I had an epiphany tonight. The burning desire to write comes rarely these days, which is part of the reason I have a blog; so I never completely STOP writing. But after Melanie’s Intermediate to Advanced pole class tonight, I knew I had some things to say.
I have dealt with black and white thinking throughout my life; it’s manifested in many different ways. It took me years to learn how to re-frame my thinking about “good” and “bad” foods while recovering from an eating disorder. If I make one mistake in writing, speech, or social interaction, I assume the entire piece or conversation suddenly becomes dirt in my hands. If I don’t answer every text or phone call I get quickly (and with a good answer or advice), I fail as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, boss, employee.
In pole, I am either “on fire” or in a complete slump. But tonight I realized that anytime I don’t hit a new trick immediately, or pull something off correctly, I declare myself in a slump. So, by my calculations, I’ve been “in a slump” for about 75% of the time I’ve done pole. I started in May of 2011. That’s a really long time to feel shitty about yourself, even if it’s only in relation to one aspect of your life. Which it’s not. Picture this perfect versus pitiful dichotomy in everything you do. Work. School. Physical activity. Eating. Cooking. Connecting with family. Seeing friends. Answering emails. Dagorhir. Pole.
Picture my frame of mind, if you will. Tonight I was trying to learn a new spin (the Floor Sweeper, I believe). I was also trying to smooth out my Superman while making it less painful. I attempted to conquer the ever-elusive Extended Butterfly. I went for my Caterpillar. I worked on my Handspring. I FAILED AT EVERY ONE. I looked around the room and saw everyone else achieving these tricks, laughing, smiling, and having fun. I was laughing, smiling, and having fun on the outside. Inside, this is the soundtrack: “Fail. Again. Lame, you know there’s something wrong with your hips. Suck in your stomach; jesus, you look fat. Of course you’re not going to get Extended Butterfly; you can’t even hold yourself up. You’ll spend the rest of your life watching your Pole friends achieve, and watching videos on YouTube, and you will have nothing to show for it ever. The ladies starting in Beginning Pole now are going to surpass you within months. You will see them land tricks that you will never, ever get. You should just give up now.” Play that on a loop; I realize that it’s absolutely ridiculous, but that’s what it is.
Then I was talking to a dancer who came into the studio right after I finished with my class. I don’t know her, but something in her stance reminded me of yours truly. She said that she was progressing slowly but surely. I joked that I was also on the slow track. Then she said something about slowing down on progress. I looked her in the eyes and said “You know, you’re going to hit slumps in Pole. This won’t be your last.” But then I recoiled inside. She was there; she walked through the door of Vertical Fusion. She clearly knew what she was doing in order to show up outfitted to pole dance, with her yoga mat under her arm. I wanted to encourage her, and in trying to do so, realized how much I pull myself down. Is this a new realization? Of course not; I’m no stranger to the fact that I hold myself back more than anyone else ever could.
But you know what I never consciously thought about during class? My Rockstar spin is awesome. I came up with a new way to booty pop (while doing Sail on spin pole) during class. I can move my hips in ways that make me look like I own the room. I can improvise awesome performances. I am creative in my pieces and in my dance. Will I ever be the girl with all the difficult tricks? Nope. But I’ll bet that some ladies who have some of those tricks think the very same things about themselves when they see my performances.
Now, this isn’t a “poor me” post. It’s also not a big empowerment post. Do I think making these observations and coming to these realizations will make these thought patterns stop? No. But awareness is one step, and I’ll take it. I want to celebrate the things I do well, and not overshadow them with the things that need work. I need to remember to try and counter the insults with compliments; that’s one action I can take right now.
So, the picture above reminds me of the things that I do well in Pole. I love being fun and sexy in my dance, both in planned and in improvised performances. And I’ll start by countering some of the mean things I’ve said about myself in this post: on Monday, I finally got my pull ups and passed into Advanced Pole! I might not like the way I perform all my tricks, and I might hate the speed at which I achieve, but Melanie and Vertical Fusion believe in me, and for now, that can be enough.