As many of you know, I offered my first-ever Dancing Mamas Tribe session over the past 5 weeks. This was a HUGE deal for me on so many levels. For example:
1. It was my first step back into ‘teaching’ (facilitating? leading? you know what I mean) after having Xander. And my friends and darling-patient-amazing-how-did-I-get-so-lucky husband will tell you, it was an agonizingly slow-to-happen step. We’re talking 3 years in the making here.
2. It was something I invented myself, the dream closest to my heart, the thing I created for the Meg who sat alone in the apartment with a small baby and couldn’t even dance on her own in the living room (I really couldn’t! Not for months!)
So yeah, it was a Big Deal. And I finally stepped out there and booked a space and created a description and posted on my blog and put up posters and posted ads online. I Did It.
…and then nobody came.
Not the first week, or the second week. Not the third week or the fourth week. Not even after I changed the time to make it easier for people to get to. And then the fifth and final week arrived, and I went to that studio with my gear…and no one came.
Five weeks. No people.
I am a Big Fat Failure.
…or so the gremlins told me.
But I don’t really believe them. Not entirely.
(OK, I wasn’t sitting there by myself…but you get the idea)
Here’s the thing: it’s always been my habit to berate myself for not succeeding and to walk a mile to avoid anything that seemed too difficult or doomed to failure. I was that OMG-so-annoying girl in school who was convinced that she would fail every test and then, when she scored a 95%, would be down on herself for “failing” and not making those extra 5 points. I’m the girl who dropped a German class in university because it was too hard and was going to bring down my GPA and I was too afraid of failing. That’s me. That’s my M.O.
So someone please explain why, in the face of 5 weeks of NO STUDENTS, I’m not huddled in a corner sobbing “Nobody loves me” and shoving pints of Rocky Road Hagen Daaz down my throat!
I’m not going to lie: I did feel bad each week. But at the same time, every day that I went in and sat there was a day that found me furiously scribbling notes into my journal. I got so many crazy insights into myself, my business, and the ways I’m going to do it differently next time that I actually think it was worth the price of the studio rental!
And even now, when I’m face to face with what can only be called a failed term (no students pretty much is the definition of failure for a teacher, right?), I’m really not that upset. Not devastated. I keep picturing myself a few years from now, telling the story of how I started. “Seriously, when I offered my first session of Dancing Mamas,” I’ll tell an interviewer, “Nobody came. Not one person. I sat there in that studio and waited, and nobody came. If you’d told me then where I would be in X-#-of years, I wouldn’t have believed it…but here I am!”
Only, I do believe it. This is just the beginning, and everyone falters at the beginning. The fact that I started this at all is a major victory. I’m not going to let this bother me. I’m going to learn everything I can from this experience, really get my money’s worth for the rental fee I paid, and I’m going to take those lessons and apply them to my next effort.
“I’m grateful for my missteps,” I’ll tell that interviewer, “They taught me so much about what works and what doesn’t, what feels right for me, what’s joyful, what makes me tick. My business wouldn’t be what it is today if I hadn’t danced a number or two with Failure at the beginning.”
Really, that Failure gets a bad rap. He’s not the most popular guy, but I’d rather dance a round with him than stay a wallflower and not dance at all.
…and that’s a first for me.