I mentioned in my last post the quote about what holds you back is who you think you’re not. That is a struggle I continue to fight with and it often leads to my first reaction to things being “I can’t do that”. Sometimes, I’ll use the knee as an excuse when asked to bend or move in a certain way that seems awkward to me. And, to be fair, there are certain moves that I can do but will pay a price the next day.
There’s a lot wrapped up in that. It is overcoming my mental picture that I’m not a dancer. But, break through that and you also have the fear that by doing something new, I’ll look stupid. Go beyond that and I’m really saying “don’t laugh at me” because I’m afraid if I do something new and end up looking awkward that someone will laugh at me. To get even more basic, it is really just me saying “don’t hurt me” because laughing at me is hurtful.
To get over that, I really have to trust the person asking me to do whatever it is that I need to do. In a safe, trusting environment, I can be at ease and I can truly laugh at myself when something breaks down. And I don’t mind people laughing with me. If I don’t feel safe, then I use my self-deprecating humor and start getting really defensive and I can be downright stubborn when I need to be.
I know this can be confusing because it can be hard to tell the difference. When I tell someone “don’t laugh at me” and then they get confused if I later can laugh at myself. I can’t explain the dynamics behind it or when I feel safe and when I don’t. I can’t even really explain how I get to the point of trusting someone. It is a process that is built piece by piece but it can be torn down quickly and then it becomes even harder to rebuild.
So, because I’ve been known to put my foot down and refuse to do things, I know I’ve got a bit of reputation at the studio. I can’t tell you how many times the Body Double or 3 of 3 would begin something by saying “they said you’d never do this”. And yet, I was more than willing to push my personal boundaries with both of them. There were things in our routines that were out of character for me but convincing me to do them was easy. Why? Because they had somehow managed to create a safe environment. I knew they were on my side and was willing to trust them.
With Kid T, that process has been a bit slower. She’s not the type who is going to laugh at me. I know this. But I have to “feel” it and that just takes more time. There are parts of the West Coast routine that it has taken me some time to get comfortable with.
On Friday, we were doing East Coast Swing and there is a step called toe/heel swivels which I’ve done lots of times. Well, she looks at what I’m doing and then tells me that I’ve got to actually swivel and bend my knees to make it look good. My first reaction was of course negative – I can’t do that, blah, blah, blah. But she stuck with me and we tried it and, of course, I can do it. (I felt it the next day – now I’ve got another muscle group to have TrainerGuy work on)
There is the quote that “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step”. I know this may not be the first step but it was still a big one even if it doesn’t sound like one. I had all the negative thoughts just rush right out and I was giving her my patented “you must be joking” look when she suggested it. But we worked through it. For me, trust can take a long time to develop and it is absolutely necessary for growth as a dancer. This was a big step in the right direction.