I’ve spent the last three years of my life trying to come out of a shell that was created & hardened by anxiety. Since then, I’ve been obliterating fear-induced walls, stepping past my deepest comfort zones, & trying with all of my might to become more brave, more free.
I am wholly dedicated to my mission to push myself into doing things that make me feel outwardly awkward, uncomfortable, & a little frightened.
Signing up to & attending my very first pole dancing class was one of those things.
Pole dancing is something I’ve always wanted to try, but I never made an effort to put that desire into action. There was always multiple excuses as to why I shouldn’t endeavor in a class: the studio was too far, the sessions were too expensive, I didn’t have the right clothes/body/sex appeal, I was too much of an introvert, & on & on.
The silly excuses appeared to mean well, but only stifled my longing.
And then I moved to Portland, where I’ve proven to myself how capable I am of being perpetually courageous: going downtown all by myself to have coffee with a very new friend; using public transportation for the first time; realizing & acknowledging that my sexual orientation has shifted; taking the initiative to do what I love… All of these things would have never gotten accomplished in my solid state of nervousness & self-doubt. But I’ve done them, & I continue to do them because it feels deliciously good to push my own limits.
Since I’ve been on such a positive roll, I decided that it was finally time to take a class to teach me how to writhe seductively on a metal pole amongst a room of strangers.
As I started my car to begin a drive along freeways & intersections I had never ventured on, I felt empowered. I was really going through with it.
When I arrived at the class & stood near my respective pole, my nerves began to buzz loudly in my ear & I could feel my palms start to sweat. This was really happening.
Throughout the entire class, my whole body shook in nervousness as I did the best I could to loosen up, trust my body, & stick out my ass in ways that would entice potential onlookers. I felt timid inferiority as I watched my gorgeous instructor lift herself onto the golden pole effortlessly & gracefully. I caught glimpses of myself in the mirror as I tried to mimic her movements, stumbling, hesitating, gripping the pole like I was going to plunge to my death.
I wasn’t graceful. I wasn’t erotic. My lanky body was discombobulated, out of shape. I was sweating, giggling nervously as I failed yet over & over to attain enough coordination so that I could spin around the pole using only my knees to balance. I felt super exposed, super awkward. I looked ridiculous; I felt a little moronic.
But as the class ended & I walked to my car, wiping sweat from my brow, I evaluated all of those emotions I had felt: vulnerability, fear, borderline humiliation, jittery excitement. And then I smiled because I had finally done something I had always wanted to do; I had felt the fear & did it anyway; & despite my horrendous lack of expertise, I fucking pole danced!
I felt splendid. I felt liberated. I basked in the glory of my own courage for the entire drive home.
I am still basking in it.
I know that it’s much easier to stay dormant, to live a predictable life as a hermit crab, snug in a shell of security. I understand how much better it feels to maintain a safe existence, one that shelters you from embarrassment, rather than propelling you into the unknown. I am all too familiar with feelings of self-doubt that hinders you from doing what you really want to do.
And there is nothing wrong with those feelings; there is nothing wrong with protecting yourself from humiliation. But I am here to remind you that you house an ability within you to surpass your own limitations & to excel in things your mind is too shy to dream of. In trying new things & endeavoring in new experiences, you are enriching your spirit; you are taking full advantage of this beautiful life you’re living.
You’re worthy of exhilarating adventures. Don’t let your timid, self-conscious ego tell you otherwise.
So do something that scares you. Ask your crush on a date. Go bungee jumping. Take a road trip alone. Try a hobby you have no experience in. Make new friends. Go karaoke. Do one thing that scares you once a week, twice a month, three times a day — anything to annihilate your comfort zones.
And when the fear feels like it’s trying to cripple you from succeeding, lean into it. Remind yourself that all of the uncomfortable things you’re feeling are just mere side effects of your being incredible in the present moment.
After completing your mission, congratulate yourself. Even if you failed, even if you stumbled, even if your efforts were laced with several ounces of hesitation, be proud of yourself because you felt the fear & did it anyway.