Changing Who I Think I’m Not

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Its not who you are that holds you back, it is who you think you’re not.

I keep coming back to this quote.  It nicely sums up a lot of what I struggle with.  I still have this fear of being laughed at especially when doing something like dancing that pushes me out of my comfort zone.  I have this strong inner desire to be taken seriously as a dancer and so attempting to do something new and being in that awkward phase where nothing is going right is a bit stressful for me.  It is often why my first thoughts are negative when presented with something new.

And that feeling intensifies when presented with something requiring me to move a part of my body that typically doesn’t move and, yes we are talking about hips again.  So my defense mechanisms kick in and I tell myself that’s just not who I am and I can’t move my body that way and if I try I’m just going to look stupid.  Or, I’ll come back to using my knee which is actually not a bad excuse because I know that I pay the next day for overworking it.  Then it is easy to rationalize not doing something and staying in my safe zone.

For the longest time, that part of me would win out and any attempt to get me to do something like that would meet massive resistance.  What I’m finding lately is that resistance breaks down much sooner and my body just takes over and says “Screw it, we’re doing this”.  And, then I just find myself getting more and more into it and the movements just seem to be natural.  I may still look stupid, but, in that moment, I really just don’t care.  I don’t feel stupid.  I feel like a dancer.  I don’t know if I’m truly able to capture the spirit of the particular dance, but, in my head, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Which brings us to last night.  The group class was a cha-cha but with some other things mixed in.  There were small kicks involved and one part where you just stayed in place and were supposed to do some kind of bending and straightening of one leg and then the other in rapid succession.  Kid T was teaching and so there was a lot of hip action in these particular steps.  I was looking at one of the other guys in the class and we started doing some commentary on how this was really not the step for us and I was determined to avoid the knee bending figuring I would regret it the next day.  (That part is true because my knee is not happy with me and I’ve been icing it while typing this).

But two of my partners were egging me on to do more (Hilde was one of them) so I just said “F… It”.  If you can’t beat em, join em.  It turned out to be more fun that I thought and isn’t that really the point.

Wait, there’s more.  Our weekly party was right after.  At one point, there was a cha-cha and Hilde grabbed me and said we had to do the group class.  Now, it is one thing to do something like that in group class when everyone is doing the same thing.  It is a little different if you are the only couple on the floor doming strange stuff when everyone else is sticking to normal cha-cha.  But, she was into it and that just let me be free to get into it as well.

After the dance, she made a comment that I wish I could remember but the gist of it was that she had figured me out and gave me a little hip bump as we walked off the floor.  I think she was saying that while I was outwardly complaining about the dance and how it made me look, inwardly I was just loving the whole thing and that includes trying to do the hip thing.  At least I think that’s what she meant because that’s how I felt.  She’s full of personality and really not afraid of saying or doing anything so she just jumps into anything.  I start off as the reserved “I can’t do that type” but, in the right environment, when the music hits and I’m feeling it, well then I become someone else.  Its a slow process but it gets me closer to where I want to be which is to be less inhibited on the floor and more willing to express what I’m feeling.  It comes down to telling that first “logical” reaction to STFU when it starts in saying “you can’t do that because …” and my response needs to be “I can’t do whatever I want, you’re not the boss of me” .

For good measure, I grabbed another person for another cha-cha later and we redid the group class as well.

The rest of the party was pretty successful as well.  Kid T and I did our Tango routine weaving through the crowded floor.  There were a couple of hitches but it went pretty well.  I danced a few more with her (like Swing and West Coast Swing) but had to spread myself out because guys were outnumbered which is rare in our studio.

The night started with a lesson and we ran through the Waltz, Bolero and Quickstep.  She still makes little fine adjustments but everything is feeling much better.

Two more lessons tonight where we’ll hit everything and then it is Showcase on Sunday.  I always get a little antsy before these events but I’m starting to feel more like a race horse waiting for the gate to go up.  I’m ready to go.

Oh, and on a sad note, it looks like M-Dawg has decided to move on.  He’s young and I think he was more interested in hip hop dancing than in ballroom so he left.  Its sad because we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye but sometimes the Famous Franchise does that – instructors just slip away into the night never to be seen again.  But it leaves a hole in the studio as OwnerGuy is back to being the only male instructor and Kid T is now the only experienced instructor outside of Z and OwnerGuy.  Anybody want a job?  The funny thing is there actually seems to be an uptick in interest as there are more new faces but if you don’t have stable instructors, you can’t convert the newbies into students which seems to be what is happening.

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