I tie the hip scarf around my waist knotting it tightly on one side letting the beads jingle on my left hip and the fringe sway on my right. I take my place in the center of fifteen nervous women all dreading their turn at being the object of scrutiny and judgment. The music thumps through the studio and I feel it beat even louder in my chest. I close my eyes and begin.
Lately, I've been on an exploration of dance. I've tried several kinds--Hip Hop, Buti, and now Belly Dancing. I've learned something from each of them, whether it was reaffirming what I already knew--that Hip Hop is too herky-jerky for me, or discovering something new that I love like Belly Dancing.
I love to dance, but I struggled to find the kind of dance class that felt like me. I like dance that is very fluid, but also has periods of what I call spazziness, and belly dancing is exactly that. It's all about flow and graceful movements, but there are also moments of erratic shimmying that allow me to let loose and embrace the chaos. I am learning a lot about belly dancing in this class, but more importantly I'm learning a lot about myself.
In the past, my desire to learn new things mostly encompassed what I could find in a book. I wasn't interested in going out and doing the things I was reading about; I was perfectly happy knowing "enough." Then one day that all changed.
I suddenly wanted to take an Impressionist painting class to better understand and appreciate my favorite style of art. I wanted to see if I could really do some good by volunteering at my local animal shelter. I wanted to test my fear of the ocean by kayaking across Casco Bay. I wanted to prove that I could hike a mountain all by myself. Finally the fire within me was lit, and every day it burns a little brighter.
I sign up for any class/seminar/workshop that I have an interest in, even the ones I'm pretty sure I won't love. Why? Why not.
We spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about being bad at something or someone judging us, when in reality we are our toughest critics. Take a look in the giant, wall-length mirror at any dance/spin/yoga class and look around. Everyone there is looking at themselves worrying they're not doing it right, and willing themselves to do better. No one is watching you, let alone rooting for you to fail. It took me an exceptionally long time to realize that, but once I did I embraced the freedom. I could try anything I wanted and no one would care whether or not I was doing it right.
You have to change your idea of what you hope to get out of it. Do you want to spend all of your time obsessing over doing it right, or would you rather let loose and have fun?