Spoiler: I didn't make it.
DC All-Stars' tryouts did not even cross my mind when I saw the date on the league calendar. I completely ignored it because my skills are nowhere near all-star level yet. But then my teammate, who is an all-star, sent an email around encouraging new skaters with all-star aspirations to try out--even if we didn't feel our skills were up to par--as a learning experience. So I signed up. And then, every time I thought about showing up, even though we were encouraged to come, I just kept imagining the other skaters watching me and thinking, "I can't believe she came to this." It made me want to be invisible.
Then this morning, one of the captains of the all-stars sent the list of skills that would be assessed at the tryout. My first thought when I read it was that the title of the list should be "All the Things Carla Can't Do." I'm not being humble. I'm not saying I haven't been working on doing those things, but really, most of them are things I can't do or can just barely do. And it's one thing to work on these things in practice. It's another thing to do them while people are scrutinizing you in a tryout.
All day I dreaded going to the tryout. The friends I commiserated with reminded me to frame it as a learning experience. Meanwhile, I reminded myself that just the act of doing something that made me feel so uncomfortable would be therapeutic, and off I went. As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm glad I did. Here are some observations from tryouts.
My teammate was right. It was a good learning experience. It helped me get a better understanding of the skills I will need to meet my long-term goal of becoming an all-star by the time I'm 40.
Nobody's perfect. Guess what? Not everyone at this tryout did everything perfectly. Not even the current all-stars. We all have things to improve on, we're all working on becoming better skaters. Which brings me to my next point...
Progress Happens. I frequently have to remind myself not to compare myself to other skaters. As I just noted, we all have things to improve, and each of us will get better at our own pace. Even though I felt like I sucked at just about everything I did tonight, there were a handful of moments when I realized I sucked at least a little bit less than I did three our four weeks ago. As long as I'm getting better, that's what counts.
About those hockey stops. I dreaded the hockey stop portion of the assessment most of all. I've only just begun working on breaking down this skill. I find it extremely difficult even at very slow speeds. But I've watched videos and gotten instruction from my league mates. I know I'll get it if I keep practicing. Tonight I stood in line waiting to do my hockey stops, knowing that everyone would see me try and fail. I told myself it would be less than 30 seconds of discomfort and then it would be over. That was true, and it turned out that I didn't die of embarrassment.
In fact, after I finished the hockey stops, I started thinking about how I tried out for the DC Rollergirls in 2010 when I barely knew how to skate. When I think about that now, I am stunned that I had the guts--not to mention the naivete--to do that. Then I drew the obvious parallel. Maybe a couple of years from now I'll stand in line at an all-star tryout with a different outcome and think, "Remember how I tried out for the all-stars when I couldn't even do a hockey stop?"