Last week, I completed the Intermediate I level at my pole class.
My last class was joyous & light-hearted. There was an excitement in the air for having completed a strenuous, transitional level, which prompted a palpable kind of confidence as we did moves we didn’t think we could eight weeks before.
The last class is a lovely mix of nostalgia & subtle self-celebration.
As we prepared for our final stretch as Intermediate I students, the girls started chatting excitedly about moving onto the next level, Intermediate II, the next level before Advanced.
In Intermediate II, we expound on all that we learned in Intermediate I, but the aerial & inverted (upside down) work is done higher up on the pole. We also work to make the moves fluid so that it can fit into a choreographed routine. Intermediate II ends with a recital.
There was a chorus of “I’m going on!” & “I’ll be there!” amongst the class, but I stayed silent.
Finally, one girl asked me, “Will we be seeing you in class next week, Ev`Yan?” I looked up from my stretch & told her that I wasn’t going on to Intermediate II; that I was going to be retaking Intermediate I. This answer prompted a stir of Awwws & Whys around the room, to which I replied: “I just don’t feel like I’m ready for Intermediate II.”
“That’s silly!” said my classmate. “You are so ready for Intermediate II. Join us!”
I smiled. “I really appreciate you saying that. But I want to honor my body & my body is telling me that it’s not ready.”
A girl from the corner of the room chimed in thoughtfully. “I like that. Honoring your body, honoring yourself…”
And just like that, it was settled.
Though I had utter peace about my decision, I was quite sad knowing that my fellow classmates were advancing to the higher level class, while I stayed behind & retook a level I had already devoted eighteen hours to. But as I walked in to my new Intermediate I class days later & began the process all over again, I felt at home.
Yes, my body seemed to say, this is right. This is necessary.
By staying behind, I’ve given myself permission to pay more attention to the moves that gave me the most trouble (mainly inversions, like Scorpions & Geminis*). And just last night, class two of Intermediate I retake, I nailed a moved that I struggled to complete in my prior Intermediate I class, & I kept nailing this move consistently throughout the entire class.
I had a breakthrough.
While it’s been a bit hard on my ego to retake this class, my success in fearlessly doing a move that gave me such frustration solidified my choice to stay behind.
I know that this is where I’m supposed to be, that this is the path I’m supposed to take.
Honoring ourselves can be tricky. It requires self-control, humility, & utter surrender to the truth, things that catapult us into the uncomfortable reality that we need more time, less time, or no time at all. Our pride often gets in the way of us obeying ourselves. We see others attempting the same feats & feel compelled to be & stay on their level.
But our bodies — our experiences — are unique, & beautifully so. What we go through, how much we can take, how we choose to process emotions… this all varies from person to person, story to story.
We learn at different rates. We come into our potential at different times. We process things in ways that are right for us.
We are not the same.
It’s so important that we honor this kind of uniqueness. It’s important that we listen to our hearts & bodies, & to not have “the right thing to do” be derogated by our pride. There’s no need for us to feel guilty for having an unconventional method of doing / feeling / making things. We are individuals choosing our own paths, creating our own stories, moving through this world at a speed that suits us.
In this way, we are honoring ourselves.
And by honoring ourselves, we are showing ourselves self-love.
My challenge to you today: Honor yourself.
Realize that you are beautifully unique & so is your story. Don’t compare yourself to the personal stories & experiences of others. Respect your body, your abilities, your weaknesses. Listen to your heart. Listen to your body. Say No (or Yes) with conviction & proceed with grace.
And while you’re at it, tell your ego to shut its mouth.
*I tried to find videos of these moves being done, but their technique was so awful! Bent legs, flexed feet. I suppose I’ll just have to show you myself one of these days.