Embrace the Stumbles and Keep Dancing

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called “Cheeky Shorts”.  The point of this post was to highlight the lesson I learned about negative self-talk and how it impacted others.  At the time, I realized that if I didn’t accept myself and my body, imperfections and all, I was telling my clients to do the same.  And that wasn’t acceptable.

Fast forward to 2018 and I’m still learning the lesson.

The scene:  Pole Convention 2018

I was backstage, getting ready to perform with an amazing troupe.  The group was called Hope on the Move, and we were dancing to show that being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean giving up hope – or dancing.  We were dressed up, made up, and getting ready to show up and perform on stage in front of hundreds of supportive fans.  (I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but I dare you to put on a sexy costume and go onstage in front of dozens, let alone hundreds.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Moments before going onstage, my heel breaks.  At least it happened before going onstage.  Still, I can’t perform in a broken stiletto, so the search is on to find shoes in my size.  Fortunately, a wonderful angel loans me her shoes.  They’re a little too big, but they’re better than performing in death-defying pole shoes, or stockinged feet.  They may even be better than my original shoes.

As we make our way to the stage, chairs in hand (it’s a chair dance routine), I’m feeling nervous but excited.  We’re set in a pyramid formation, and I’m the point in the front.  The music begins and it’s all out sexiness.  So far, so good.  Then the trouble starts.  When making the first turn, I stumble.  I manage to recover, smile, and keep going.  A minute later, I stumble again.  This one is bigger, but I manage to stay upright and in motion (still smiling, of course).  We finish the number and walk off the stage to applause and cheers.  Rodney, the group’s founder and choreographer, is waiting to congratulate us.  Everyone is riding a big high.  Everyone except me.

“I’m so sorry.  I screwed up and stumbled a couple of times.  I’m sorry.” I apologized again and again to everyone.  I felt so bad.  Because I was in front, I felt that by making mistakes, I let everyone else down.  And I never wanted that to happen.

As I continue to beat myself up, I noticed a change in the group’s initial post-performance enthusiasm.  Everyone else became a little quieter, a little more subdued.  It was then that I realized I wasn’t just criticizing myself – I was stealing joy from everyone else.

It was a powerful reminder.

Almost immediately, I stopped talking and tried to stop worrying about it.  I went on and enjoyed the rest of the conference.

To Rodney, Eva, Laurie, Trish, Evelyn and Roxanne – thank you for including me in this group, for putting me in the front and for reminding me that perfection isn’t the goal.  You are all amazing and that performance was incredible – and so much fun.

And Mary – thank you for letting me borrow your shoes at the last minute and saving me from sliding off the stage or breaking my face in a pair of pole shoes.

I can’t wait to dance with you all again.

 

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