I stood in front of the mirror in dance class looking at my body. The movements just weren’t coming. This was only my second class for close to two months. My body looked cumbersome and I felt like I was stomping around like a dancing bear. There was this constant dialogue running in my head as I worked through the movements.
Snake arms: “You look like a wavy blow up man that you see at car malls”
Hip lifts: “This is the wrong outfit, I’m not even sure my hip is lifting”
Demi Walk: “was I this bad two months ago and didn’t realize it?”
Arm movements; “where did all the clear movement I had go?”
3 point turn: “you have no grace, how could you think you’d be able to perform this year?!”
Hip drops: “you are still so fat, look at your stomach extending out”
Then I got to hip eights. My mind went back to summer’s class. I inhaled. In my mind, my teacher was standing next to me, on the opposite side of the room from where I was currently standing. I heard her voice as I looked in the mirror at my body, telling me to extend my hip out further. My hip slid beyond the previous movements. I exhaled, refocused back to this class. Everything slowed down. Like the slow motion you see in movies when the character becomes aware of everything. I looked at my hip, seeing the gold coins of the hip scarf, watching it move beyond to a fuller extension. I breathed in again as the hip scooped to the back and my left hip slide forward sensuously. I saw one of the coins, slightly out of alignment, as I stared at my body and in my head I heard “you have goals, you just aren’t there yet. This is a journey. This is a process. Stop…being…so…hard…on…yourself.” I inhaled again and I let go of that stupid, ugly voice.
It was then that I realized three things. The first: Anytime I focus on the movement, when I’m in the moment, experiencing what is happening, that is when the position works the best for me. And really, isn’t that the truth with everything in life? When we are focused in the moment, our best selves begin to appear. We become unencumbered by judgment.
I began to think about a coaching call I was on last week with Alexanders Grace. From that amazing call, I have a sticky note on my home office desk. It says: “Zero judgement, All love” Where was my head on that scale of judgement vs. love? Dancing is a process. There are good days and there are bad days and sometimes you just have to feel like a dancing bear, stomping around with paws out to get to the next shift in your dance. That’s when I let go. I can accept myself with love that I had an imperfect class. It’s the imperfections that lead me to practice and grow not just as a dancer, but as a person.
The second realization: As recent as a year ago, I would have shut down with that negative voice in my head. I wouldn’t have reached out to my bellydance teacher and expressed my feelings, and I would have skipped the following night’s class. But avoiding “feeling the feels” only leaves you stuck with an ugly voice in your head. It’s when I feel those emotions that I’m able to work through them and get out to the other side.
The third realization: It’s time to stop holding a level of perfectionism that is unobtainable. Dare I say, fuck perfectionism? Zero Judgement, All Love.