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What I Learned About Taking Up Space from Pole Dancing

What I Learned About Taking Up Space From Pole Dancing


Exactly 192 lifetimes ago, as a child, I was a dancer (ballet, tap and jazz). I wasn't particularly any good, but in my 41 years of life, it was the only time I can remember being unable to stop smiling.


That was until age 14 when some random dude stepped on my untied shoelaces at an Alanis Morissette concert (one that I won tickets off the radio for, nonetheless!) and poof... there went my dance career.


Flash forward two decades later, I was having a chat with my coach about quitting alcohol. We were pondering that if I was to give up booze, what would I do instead? She asked me to think about to a time in my life when I was really connected to my passions, to the unique things in my life that made me tick, before self-doubt got in the way and the pressures of the world started to weigh me down. I answered "swimming and dancing".


That weekend, I bought a pool. Mind you, when I say "pool", I really mean a giant eyesore of a tub that I filled with water, but one that I could do laps in and that worked in a pinch.


Reconnecting to dancing took way longer. I had sooooo many limiting thoughts:

· I was too old.

· I was too big.

· I didn't know how to move my body anymore.

· I didn't want to go alone.

· People would judge me.

· What if I got winded or couldn't remember the moves?

It took a lot of effort to change that mindset, and truth be told, I still struggle with some of it today. But I reminded myself it was okay to do things scared, as long as I did them. So I signed up for a pole dancing studio.


In one of my first classes, the instructor had us lay down on the floor and close our eyes. She instructed us to start moving our bodies in any direction as long as we remained on the floor with our eyes closed.


There was one additional rule: no apologizing. She pointed out that we would undoubtedly bump in each other, and when that happened our instinct would be to be totally forgiving of the person doing the bumping. But when we felt like we were the ones invading someone's space, we would be tempted to apologize. See, the benefit of the doubt, permission, forgiveness, compassion and leeway we readily give other people is often something we would never grant ourselves. (::mind blown!!!!!::). So, we followed her instruction, bumped into each awkwardly and got familiar with taking up space without apology.

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