Jan 15, 2015 by

          “I believe all women have a natural ability to dance,” a fellow pole student, who’s been dancing since age 3, said to me last night.

          “You think so?” I responded in amusement. This woman definitely hadn’t seen me dance.

          “Yes,” she said confidently. “It might take a while to get it, but you will.”




          I can dance all night, but not with grace. My hips don’t move. They never have. Many friends have tried to fix me, some even physically circling my hips with their own hands. For years, Olivia has been shouting to me over music to let go of the “inhibitions” she says I have while dancing. Hence why this morning, during a free session that I was offered by a personal trainer at the gym (score!), I wasn’t surprised when he told me that I have tightness in my hips.

          “Sounds like the story of my life,” I laughed. “No one has ever professionally assessed that I have ‘tightness in my hips,’ but I’ve never been able to move them while dancing. Now I have a valid reason.”

          Needless to say, I have no dance background. Unless you count the time I tried ballet when I was 3. Let me tell you how that went. It’s one of my most vivid early childhood memories. I remember eagerly waiting at the bottom of the stairs at the white house (which is how my sisters and I refer to the house with a white garage that we previously lived in, not realizing the double connotation until much later than you’d think we would) with little pink slippers on my feet. I was going to be a ballerina! I remember, possibly incorrectly, that I was wearing a tutu. Next, I remember nervously but excitedly walking into the class – right before my parents abandoned me. To all mothers and fathers everywhere, you need to warn your children that you are going to leave them at ballet! I was not prepared for that. I sat on the bench at the side of the class, where I sobbed like I had been given up for adoption, and I never went back. Oh, I also tried tap dancing when I was 8. I didn’t even make it to the recital. My tap shoes hurt my feet.

          Like I said, I have no dance background. I also have limited coordination and my upper body strength is an ongoing work-in-progress, so pole dancing challenges me in a really good way. Aside from wanting to get my confidence back up to where it was, I’m also trying to build strength and flexibility. Since pole dancing is contorting my body in ways that it doesn’t quite go yet, as evidenced by the resultant muscle pain and bruises that I find highly gratifying, I think it has excellent potential to do just that. Pole dancing requires being able to lift and hold yourself up. Because I’m lacking the strength to hold, I’ve been struggling with the lift.

          “I’m afraid to lift my feet,” I heard myself say aloud to Jocelyn, one of the instructors, during my third class.

          Oh fuck, I immediately thought. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I sternly questioned myself.

          Suddenly, my feet were lifted into a backward spin.

          “Good!” Jocelyn exclaimed. “I swear your feet were off the ground for at least three seconds!”

          “Which is way better than zero!” I excitedly shrieked.

          Somehow, though, by my fifth class, I had regained my fear, which was unacceptable to me. Motivated by pissed-at-myself determination on Tuesday, during my sixth class, I forced both of my legs up into a (kind-of) fireman spin! My form was completely off, but all that mattered was both feet were elevated! I could almost hear my legs yelling, “Fuck you, fear!” What got me back off the ground was firmly telling myself that my instructors can’t lift my legs for me. Other people can guide me, but I’m the one who has to pull myself up. (Whoa. Life metaphor! I wasn’t even trying to be profound.)

Happiness Tip: Pull yourself up.

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