Why You Should Try That Thing You Are Scared Of

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I try not to speak for people other than myself. Somehow, I feel pretty confident that I am not the only person who is afraid of experiences. Especially when it’s doing something for the first time.

My problem with these fears is they hold me back. They have kept me from exploring the world, and all the new experiences it has to offer.

Last night, I tried stand up comedy for the first time. It was a resolution last year, and I had put it off. Why? Because I was scared.

I was scared I wouldn’t be funny, that people wouldn’t look past my outward appearance, and I know deep down I was scared because I didn’t feel good enough.

I put off trying stand up comedy for a year. Though, I know I’ve been putting it off longer than that. I delayed because, despite my lack of fear of a microphone, I was afraid of not being funny. It’s the only time in my life I’ve worried about crickets.

When the time came, I wasn’t nervous about the crowd (I had, unknowingly, stacked the room with all my friends), or being on stage. I was nervous about making people laugh. I was nervous that I might not accomplish my goal, which was to bring some joy and laughter into the lives of those in the room.

I learned a long time ago, when doing speech team in high school, that a certain level of nervousness is a key to success. It was a sign I had truly invested in a speech. Those speeches, the ones that made my palms sweaty and my heart race when I took my initial breath to begin, would make it finals.

It was the speeches where I was cocky, and without a care in the world, that never made it past the first round.

Not all nervousness is a sign that you are doing something wrong. It’s not always a sign that you are in the wrong place, or the universe telling you it’s not your path. Some nervousness is a sign of how much you love this thing you have created. It’s a sign that you have poured yourself into something.

Rejection happens. Failure happens. Don’t let a fear of those things stop you from trying. The only true failure is the project that is never taken on.

I wish I would have realized this sooner. I wish I would have shed the weight of shame and guilt years ago. But, I also know that the universe brings you things when you are ready for them. And, maybe this is a sign that I am ready for my next adventure.

 

Come Wade In The Water With Me

blonde-826027_1920It seems to be a common bonding ritual for women to stand around and talk smack about their bodies. I am in no position to judge this practice, as it was general operating procedure for me as well. I stopped when I took a challenge in mindfulness. (herehere, and here.) I learned so much about how often I automatically insulted myself.

The problem with these comments is they seep into our heads, and fuel the bitchy voice that reminds us of our faults. Fueling that bitch only creates a perfect storm of self-hate.

It’s not our fault we talk shit about our bodies. I think society has so warped how we are suppose to see ourselves. It is considered vain to not knock some part of our body when someone else does it. It is how women bond.

And, let’s be honest. It’s how we fish for compliments. Both with fellow women and with men. There’s no better way to get a man to tell you how beautiful you are than by looking at him and saying that you aren’t beautiful. I get it. Been there. At the same time, it is hard to take compliments about our bodies. Any time someone verbally acknowledges our physical features, it’s so hard not to swat those words away and speak down to them.

couple-663183_1920Wanna know a little secret? If you talk shit about your own body long enough, not only will you believe it, but so will your partner. Eventually, they will also see your body in a negative light. We tell our partners how to treat us, and how to see us.

But, coming from someone who has been off the wagon of talking shit about myself for a year or so now (give or take a few mistakes), I can tell you there is a better way. It’s amazing much easier it is to enjoy your reflection in the mirror when your not talking shit about your body all the time. What we say out loud becomes what we think to ourselves at our most vulnerable moments. Be kind to yourself at all times. And, honestly, believe when people tell you that you are beautiful.

Wash off the weight of the world’s shame. Come wade in the body positive water with me. You will find it refreshingly invigorating.

How I Win A Mirror Ball Trophy

close-up-18753_1280“… you think you are better at west coast (swing) than you really are.”

I received this feedback recently, and it struck me how similar it is to what fat people hear about their lives. So many in world want fat people to be miserable because of how they look. If a fat person “dares” to live their life exuding confidence they are told they act happier than they really are, or at least happier than they should be.

There is this idea in the world that you have to have certain things, or be certain things, to be happy. I have to be a certain weight and look a certain way, before fat shamers think it’s okay for me to wear a smile (not to mention horizontal stripes or contour dresses). That’s why they think it’s glorifying obesity anytime someone overweight is seen in the media doing ANYTHING other than crying.

I can go out on a dance floor and enjoy myself, because my goal is to enjoy myself. I’m not blind to my lack of skill set. I certainly have no delusions of grandeur about entering a dance competition anytime soon. The same philosophy goes for life. I don’t always know the right steps to take, and I’ve been known to stumble through difficult situations. That doesn’t change my worth, and it certainly doesn’t have to take away my smile.

There will always be a panel of self-appointed judges in the world. They will sit on the side of the life’s dance floor and critic everyone they see. Since I started this journey, I’ve stopped dancing, or living, for them. What they think of me is none of my business. 20150921_140359What matters is if I’m dancing my way through life in a way that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. As long as I can look myself in the mirror and give myself a high score all the categories that matter (Am I a good person? Am I good mom? Am I good wife?), then I’m winning the only mirror ball trophy I care about.

I don’t mind admitting that I smile when I think of the self-appointed judges of the world. I like to think I try to bring happiness to everyone I meet. And, if snickering about my dance and life makes people happy, then I’m glad they are watching. It costs me nothing to make them smile.

 

There Are No Inferior Positions, Only Inferior Attitudes

I line dance on the weekends. Getting ready to dance means finding your place on the floor. If you are lucky enough to get a front row spot it is either a slow night, or you have been  nominated by the crowd around you to be front and center. It usually means that the people around you trust your knowledge of the dance and want watch your feet.

20141226_212702There were a couple times I was “nominated” for the front row. Yet, after a few minutes I found people pushing me out of their way. It was a combination of feeling invisible, and yet, obviously unwanted.

Luckily for me it doesn’t take much to change my spot mid dance. Being in the second row, or even the back row, doesn’t bother me much. The crowd is less competitive, and I don’t feel as much pressure to make the dance look good. (Okay, let’s be honest. I take more creative privilege knowing there aren’t people watching my feet.)

Like most deep thinkers, I thought this was an interesting metaphor for life. Some people will do whatever they deem necessary to be in the spotlight, even if it means pushing someone just as deserving behind them.

The key, for me, is letting go of my desire to be in the front row. Life isn’t about the spotlight, it’s about the dance. I have more fun being surrounded by people who are having a good time.

There are no inferior positions, only inferior attitudes.

The Only Island In The Sea of Palm Trees

I have fallen in love with hobbies that are, shall we say, “unconventional” for people of my body type. I could write a whole blog about why that is bullshit, but that’s for another day. Even in this age of body positivity and role models like Tess Holliday and Whitney Way Thore, I still do not see a wide variety of body types on the hiking trails or the dance floor.

Last night, I was invited to a social dance by a friend. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really planned on going at all. I’ve already heard how “I’m not a dancer” and “I wouldn’t understand.” Dancing anywhere but my normal floor is always uncomfortable for me. I’ll be honest, even my normal floor makes me want to run home and hide under my blankets sometimes.

But, I also have promised myself to stop letting fear get in my way. Being afraid of other people’s opinions is a fear I need to conquer.

As soon as the social dance started, I noticed right way that the friends I came with were being asked to dance. Even though I was closest to the dance floor, these men would reach across my face to ask my friends to dance with them.

As if I were invisible.

I admit I could have been more assertive, and asked leads to dance with me. But, I can’t help but feel like part of it was being the only big girl in the crowd. While the other women I was with were getting asked to dance consistently, I was not.

When a lead would come close, looking like they were looking for some to dance with, I would flash my best inviting smile. I noticed multiple men make eye contact with me, look at their phones, and put them away as soon as they passed me. Maybe I’m paranoid, but after awhile it starts to look like an excuse to look busy. Especially when they ask a woman two tables down to dance.

Or, maybe my eager, excited, face reminds people to check for notifications.

Of course, a few of the leads at this dance were also very willing to dance with me. Some of them were even able to look past my lack of training and my body type, and have a good time. These leads introduced me to improvisation and having fun with musicality.

I know I don’t look like a “dancer,” but how many role models have to come out of the woodwork before people start realizing that every body type can dance. Just because I am an island in a sea of palm trees, doesn’t mean I am unable to sway with the wind.

Tonight I will strap my dance shoes back on, and step on the dance floor. I with bath in the camaraderie and mutual support of my friends. The moving meditation of dance will clear my head of the negativity, and of society’s bullshit standards. When I leave the floor, exhausted, sweaty, and out of breath I will be home.

 

 

 

One Year Dance-versary!

I can’t believe I let such an important date go by without a post. Well, I know why I did, March was incredibly hectic!

The Timehop app gave a reminder on March 27th that it had been a year since I went to my first line dance lesson at Maverick’s Country Bar and Grill. It happened to be Friday night, so I could celebrate by dancing the night away. I’ll admit, I also bought myself a shot of fireball, which was a rare treat for a dance night.

Have you ever had a moment where you can’t imagine what your life would be like if you hadn’t made one tiny little decision? Taking a line dance lesson is such a minor thing, but I really think it changed the direction of my whole life.

I cannot imagine my life without dancing because I can’t imagine my life without my “dance friends” in it. It seem so natural to have these “regulars” in my life, and see them 2-3 nights a week. I miss them when one of them isn’t there. I miss them any night I can’t go. It’s dumbfounding to think I’ve only known all of them for, at the most, a year. Really, I’ve probably only gotten to know most of them in the last six months or so. I’m kind of a shy wallflower around people I don’t know. I celebrated my birthday with them. I rang in the new year with them. I’ve celebrated an embarrassing ER visit with them. They are like my second family.

I cannot imagine my life without dancing because dancing as become my favorite way of expressing myself. It hard for me to listen to any song and not start line dancing to it, or practicing some sort of partner dance with myself. I cannot fathom the idea of listening to music and staying stationary. How did I used to do that? It’s inconceivable. I have a hard time cleaning my house now. Every song makes me dance.

I cannot imagine my life without dancing because it’s how I turn my mind off. I equate this experience to a type of moving meditation. When I’m line dancing, or partner dancing, I stop thinking about what’s going on in my life. I stop worrying about my son, worrying about my marriage, worrying about my body type or my self esteem. When I’m really zoned in, and enjoying myself, the rest of the world seem to fade away. When I’m finished with the dance, and I’m sweaty and out of breath, whatever seemed to be bothering me before doesn’t seem as big of a problem.

Of course, I admit this isn’t always the case. (See the blog post I posted yesterday.) Usually I have a hard time turning off my fear of what other people are thinking of me when it’s a new dance I don’t quite know yet. But, that is another reason why I can’t imagine not having dancing in my life. I don’t know how I would have come as far as I have on my “Body Positive Journey” without dancing.

I cannot imagine my life without dancing because it’s an amazing creative outlet for me. I’ve begun to start choreographing line dances. My line dance, “That Bass”, is still occasionally played at Maverick’s. I don’t know if I will ever get over seeing a dance floor of people doing a dance I created. I currently have two more dances that are “finished,” but not yet shown to the world. I do have other creative pursuits, but nothing that gives me the same feelings of satisfaction as choreography.

I cannot imagine my life without dancing because it has given me so much confidence. Dancing is something I’m good at. I won’t say I’m the best, but I certainly do all right. It is amazing to feel how quickly I can get my body to learn new dances. It’s amazing to learn new dances like West Coast Swing. My husband is even taking West Coast Swing classes with me, which we would have never done had I not started this journey.

Never be afraid to try something new, or experiment with a new hobby. You never know how one simple class will change your entire world. You might even be unable to imagine your life without it a year later.