Last week, a gym I had reached out to earlier this winter contacted me and asked if I would sub for a Zumba class one evening. I was pleased, put it on my calendar and didn’t think too much about it until that day.
On that day, something in me was just “off.” I can only describe it as this sort of weariness that clouded my mind. I wasn’t physically tired. I didn’t have a packed schedule, and all was well with my health and that of the rest of my family.
That made it seem worse — nothing to point to as the source of feeling out of whack. Shit. Just be happy, woman. That thought just added another layer to the weariness.
I finally just let myself open up to it instead of pushing it away. I was open to learning what might be going on instead of trying to sneak away from it, and I got some good information.
- I was going into a situation at that gym that was both familiar and foreign to me at the same time. I’ve taught many times, but not in that specific environment.
- I sort of knew which studio space I was going to be in, but I wasn’t completely sure.
- I know how to use a stereo and sound system, but the one at this place was likely to be different. How long would it take me for me to figure it out?
- Was I going to be miked up or teach with visual cues? Or both?
- Would I put the microphone head/ear piece on the right way? Or put it on upside down and look flustered and green?
- This wasn’t just a small, one room studio — this was a big facility that had a long-standing presence in my community.
- I didn’t have an exercise physiology degree and fitness wasn’t my primary career.
Looking at those thoughts and questions helped me unravel what was going on and find the source of my weariness.
What I learned was this: I willingly positioned myself for an opportunity to step into something a little bigger than I was used to. I do it all of the time. I do it because I want to do more, learn more, meet new people and try new things.
I do this on a regular basis in my life and sometimes it freaks me out. The introvert in me wants to curl up and take a nap or snuggle up to Pinterest.
That’s the part of me that still thinks feeling awkward or clumsy is reason enough to stay in my comfort zone and not take the risk. That fights to keep me at home. Keep quiet. Remain a student instead of the teacher.
But these days, I don’t acquiesce to the part of me that wants to hide.
I take action. And the action isn’t just a random impulse that arrives; I have trained my mind to turn my “what ifs?” into “so be its” and my brain just keeps trailblazing new neural pathways with every turn of a thought.
So what happened? Did I fumble my way through teaching the class? Did I even show up?
I was fierce, confident and fun. I did put the mike headset on my head the wrong damn way, but the instructor who came to show me around so I could get acclimated readjusted it and I laughed at myself. With every dance step, every moment of my phonetic lip-synching to Latin songs and every facial expression in the mirror, I encouraged and inspired the people in that room.
And they let me know they appreciated my work. They asked me to come back. They felt good, they said. They felt inspired by what their bodies could do and wanted more. I stayed after and held both hands of a young woman, looked into her eyes and truly heard her hopes and desires to return to regular exercise and better health.
If I have to work through my reticence and weariness to have those moments, it’s worth it. And if you hold yourself back in some way because it feels too big or there’s too much potential for embarrassment or missteps, think again.
Maybe asking yourself “what if I could do this?” is a step up from thinking “who am I to ______?” Work your way up the ladder to “so be it.” Stretch and grow. Lean into the vulnerability. It’s so worth it.
One thought on “Why to keep doing things that freak you out”
March 4, 2014
Spot on again! I really do love hearing your stories and being able to relate to what you’re going through. This is going to sound so silly, but I had one of these moments in my life last week. Wednesday afternoon, my contact ripped in my eye. It was so painful and my eye was tearing up really bad. By the time I got it fixed, I had wiped off all the makeup on the left side of my face. That put me in a TERRIBLE mood. I felt like I had to go home after work to fix my face/makeup so that I could go do the things I had planned. I almost cancelled my plans. Well, this is where I’m absolutely ridiculous… I was serving dinner to the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul after work. I was so concerned about my appearance that it put me in a bad mood. Really? REALLY? Who am I? I was so bent out of shape that I wasn’t going to look or feel my best to serve dinner to the homeless that I actually thought about cancelling my plans. So, I slapped myself upside the face and went to the bathroom and proceeded to wipe off the rest of my makeup. Without my “paint by numbers” face, I’m still me. I’m still a good person and no one cares what I look like. I felt vulnerable without the layer of makeup, but as silly as it seems/sounds/feels, it made me think about WHO I am deep down and not the person I portray to the world. So, again, Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability!!!