I have a confession to make: I tend to be VERY self-conscious when I’m starting a new movement practice. I remember back in the day when I was trying to lose weight (in Grade 7…oy) and I started doing aerobics videos. I dreaded…DREADED having anyone walk past the living room. Unfortunately, as the living room opened directly onto the dining room and the front hall, it was pretty much inevitable that I would be observed at some point. It was completely impossible for me to enjoy those videos. Even the one with Cher (ah, the memories).
This trend has continued. Every time I try anything new…forget it. I must not be observed. Actually, it doesn’t have to be new. I was still self-conscious when I was doing that Cher video for the 20th time. Every time I do anything involving movement I feel super self-conscious…with 2 exceptions: regular bopping to pop music (except for the first 18 months of Xander’s life…but that’s a topic for a whole other blog post), and dance performances. Performances don’t really count because they’re obviously intended to be viewed, and because there’s something magical about performing -it’s a different kind of vulnerability and it really doesn’t bother me. And I include teaching dance classes in the “dance performances” category because, to make a completely obvious statement, as the teacher you sort of expect to be looked at. But don’t get me started on anything that requires getting out of my head and just dancing. In front of onlookers? I DON’T THINK SO.
Like, oh I don’t know, an ecstatic/free form dance practice. Up until now I’ve tended to lock myself in a room, draw the blinds, and go nuts, safe in the knowledge that no one can see me. But the other day Matthew was playing Lego with Xander in the living room and…I just didn’t feel like hiding. There’s more space in the living room. So I put on a 5Rhythms play list and just started moving. Right there. Knowing that people would, obviously, see me. I just did not care at all! I still got out of my head! And it was wonderful! It was extra-fun when Xander came and joined me…although his “dancing” was running around in circles and going “Come on, Mummy! This way, Mummy! Yet’s dance, Mummy!” (he says his Ls as Ys).
This marks a very important shift that I’ve noticed this week: not caring so much about being good at things or looking “stupid.” I’ve been trying new things: ecstatic dancing in front of my family, Shiva Nata on a level other than the super-easy one (this marked the first time I have EVER enjoyed doing something truly badly…very freeing, and worth repeating! I couldn’t stop giggling!), flinging open my husband’s office door and dance-ambushing him (HILARIOUS), even trying handstands and jumping and things that I have always either disliked or thought that I couldn’t do (jumping being the thing I disliked, thanks to ballet class, and handstands being the thing I thought I couldn’t do. I still can’t do them, but at least I have fun trying now. Woah…Meg the Perfectionist having fun TRYING something?! Not taking it super-seriously?! Who am I and what have I done with ME?!?!).
I don’t know what’s going on, but I am absolutely loving it. I feel like I’m 6 years old and dancing around the living room again (come to think of it, I never experienced the aforementioned self-consciousness when I was 6). I assume it’s related to all this dancing. Giving myself permission to not care whether I’m observed and to just totally suck at something but still have fun with it is so amazingly unlike my usual routine. Will the world end if I don’t do a handstand ever? No. Will my world change if I keep following this trend and suddenly don’t give two craps WHO sees me dancing my heart out?! Ummm….YES. ABSOLUTELY (I am contemplating a new feature called “Dance in Public”…but I can’t decide if it should be a challenge or a video blog thingy. I’ll keep you posted).
So…sometimes you just need to turn on the music and not care who’s walking by and possibly watching. And sometimes if you stop worrying about achievements and just try something you will have some fun and surprise yourself.
There you go: lessons from the dance floor. You’re welcome 😛