Confronting my Inner Scaredy Cat
Or, How Getting Better Requires Work
Or, How Handstands are Fundamental to most Advanced Pole Work but I suck at them
Or, How I am not Making New Years Resolutions but I am Trying to change my Bad Attitude
This story starts a few months back, at a bar in Brooklyn. A group of pole dancers were gathered over drinks and dinner and one of them happened to be Tehera Nesfield, who is absolutely phenomenal and not so long ago moved from LA to NYC, and another the fabulous Natasha Wang. Now, let me explain something first. Natasha Wang is like, my spirit animal. She’s like the poler that I feel like maybe in another lifetime I could have been, except that in this lifetime I am definitely not even close to being as ridiculous as her. But, she started pole so late, and with no athletic background, and she is Asian (although not even remotely Korean) so we’re almost like the same person, sort of. Except that also I can’t do anything she does, really. But someone deep inside of me feels that it Could be Possible to be like Natasha, and for this reason, and also because she’s so fucking nice, I’ve always adored her as a human being.
So we were sitting there talking about many things, including life and not just pole, but one of the things we ended up talking about was how there is a lot that is great about NYC pole, but for the most part (notable exceptions like Sam Star aside) we are not power trickers. We are not fast, we don’t do grip changes, we don’t do all the handstand things, we don’t do anything dynamic, we are floaty and smooth and dance-y. And I was talking about how much that LA shit scared me, and about how totally remedial I was at that kind of pole work, and long story short, because I want to be more like the Wang, and also more like the Tehera, and because some good points were brought up, I realized: I am just going to have to fucking get my ass into class and make Tehera my Guru.
The Guru of all the tricks and things that scare me.
Of all the things that make me just say, “Nope.”
So you know how sometimes you follow people on Instagram or in class who are just a little bit (in your mind) better than you, who do combos and you’re like, “oh, I’m going to actually try it now, because if they did it, I can totally do it!” And then there are the people you know who are just WAY better than you, and you just watch them with your mouth agape and marvel at what is Possible with the Human Body?
Tehera is one of those. She’s someone who is doing this balls out shit all the time, and I don’t know where her fear glands are, or if she has them, but I do, and mine are huuuge.
So I go to her class and I’m literally pulling out the crash mats as soon as warmup is over because I’m like okay Amy, you’re maybe going to be scared this whole time, but you’re doing everything she’s teaching and you’re doing it on both sides and you will not give up.
So, I did.
And you know, it was horribly hilarious to see how awful and bad I was at everything, and I needed her to spot me like a baby through like the whole class, she basically should have just strapped my ass to her hands to hold my entire body weight the entire time but then at the end of class I was talking to some of the other students- one of whom I taught as a baby poler and who is just this like fearless creature now- and she was like “oh yeah, when I first started coming to this class a long time ago I couldn’t do anything!” and something totally cliiiicked.
I was like, oh. So that thing I tell students, about how you shouldn’t give up on yourself, is kind of true for me too maybe.
Like maybe I wrote off all this shit as stuff I’m not “good” at, because mostly I’m scared of it, and instead of fighting through the challenge I just kind of laid down and died. And that’s not to say that everyone should work on all the things they hate or aren’t good at- I mean, everyone has their own time to spend how they see fit- but then when I see all these videos of people doing crazy shit, and I’m just like yeah, that could never be me… maybe I’m actually writing myself off?
Maybe, I AM a WANG inside?? Maybe my inner baby Tehera is coming out? And I just need to put in some work? I mean, who knows, right?
So, I started going to Tehera’s class every week. Sometimes, work got in the way, but I went whenever I could. And I got better at so many things. Not GOOD at them, not even close, yet…. But I can feel improvement. Like now, I can confidently hold a couple of different pole-assisted handstands. Not welllllll… but way better than week 1. And thankfully, Tehera includes the same conditioning and drills every class, so I can really see how I’m getting better.
So then, at the last Pole Unbound, something magical happened. Two Unbounders both ended up teaching flips and crazy ninja shit in their workshops, and I. Got. Almost. EVERY. TRICK. THEY. TAUGHT.
I could not BELIEVE it. I was so impressed with myself and also fully embarrassed that for so so so so long, I have looked at those tricks and fully just said, “NOPE.”
And not JUST said “NOPE” either, but spent all this time and mental energy convincing myself that I’m not really into that kind of pole, it’s not really my “thing.”
I fully gave up on myself and instead of pushing myself to see what I am really capable of, I just stood on the sidelines and half-assed attempts and just waited for something else to come along that I felt more confident with. And you know, it’s okay to be like, “yeah, I’m not into any of that, it is just not for me…” but when you’re trying to Grow, and trying to Learn, sometimes you have to push yourself way outside of your comfort zone.
And sometimes, you create this box for yourself, and not only do you get used to living in it, but you also don’t realize that maybe it’s way smaller than you thought. Maybe your limitations are way further out than you thought. Maybe you can do way more.
So here’s to pushing boundaries, and to confronting your fears. 2017 is going to be a good one, guys.
[If you want a laugh- here’s a link to a video of me learning a flippy thing at Unbound, and sheepishly realizing afterwards that it wasn’t actually THAT bad….]