For the last year and a half, I’ve been juggling a job, school full-time — and for a long duration of that, playing roller derby, which often felt like another part-time job. For most of last year, I was burned out and stressed out and any other down-and-out emotion you could tack on. My relationship was a wreck. I was a wreck. My poor house was a wreck. I started to come to peace with having to give something up. If I can be completely frank, I don’t have to work, but I choose to because it gives me purpose and makes me feel more like a partner in a household rather than… well, I don’t know what the opposite of that is. Plus, my own money dot com like a responsible 30-something. School is my future self, and I’ve been working too hard and too long to go back now. I initially gave up my volunteering role, which I miss immensely.

Derby was the final decision. It’s something that I struggled to come to terms with — that loss of identity from playing a sport that I’d participated in for 4.5 years. The irony is, once I made the decision to retire, I found a much more whole and authentic identity that has made me happier than I ever imagined.

That’s weird, right?

IDENTITY was my word for 2015, as I faced a lot of my fears about change and leaving behind an old me that didn’t fit any longer. I ended January with a new job, loss of a job in which I was employed for three years (but that was making me miserable), a retirement from a sport that I loved to play (but hated the drama that came along with it), and a calm and “free time” that I had all but forgotten about.

After attending a home game this past weekend, I miss the sport and (most) people a lot, but I have residual damage. Derby opened up the opportunity to embrace my authentic self, and at the same time, made me feel more unsettled about who I was. Who I AM is taking some time to recognize. I’m getting there.

Maybe some day I’ll get to that point of lacing my skates back up again. But does that mean going back to a part of me that doesn’t exist anymore? Is that the opposite of progress — or the celebration of it?

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