The Moth in the Terrarium
I moved to the Metairie area about six months ago. I am not new to moving! With two countries, five states, and ten cities under my belt you could even say I am somewhat of an expert. At least, an expert in knowing how difficult it can be to make friends.
When I lived in North Carolina it took me well over a year to decided to put myself out there and meet new people. I found life-long friendships and a wonderful community by joining Crossfit Rolesville (NCMVMNT) and when I recently moved back to Louisiana, I decided I wasn’t going to wait a whole year to do the same. I googled “Crossfit near me”, and found myself at the doors of Achilles Crossfit. I quickly joined in with the 6:30pm class, started back with the movements that I love, and slowly but surely began to make new acquaintances. I also decided I was going to get the most out of this membership, and the cool thing about Achilles is they also have a dance studio in house called, “Move”. Now anyone who knows me, knows I love to dance. I saw a room full of people dancing, laughing, and enjoying themselves and quickly signed up for the “Beginner’s Hip Hop” class. I was pumped to say the least.
The day arrived for my class and I put on my favorite pair of yoga pants, wiggled into my too snug sports bra, and put on an oversized T-shirt with some leopard print tennis shoes. I grabbed my gym-bro sized water jug and headed out the door. I. Was. Ready. I was the first to arrive at the class because, well…anxiety makes me early for literally everything. I signed in and began to stretch and limber up. Soon the other dancers began to trickle in, one by one, and the class filled up pretty quickly. The warm up began and I noticed that everyone stretching was…abnormally flexible?? “Eh…they must have been doing these classes for a while”, I muttered to myself as I tried to make my legs stretch as long as theirs.
The class moved on into the warm up and then the song was announced. We would be dancing to “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani. “Perfect! A song I know!” I thought excitedly as they began to go over the choreography and break the movements down. Now, anyone who knows this song knows the tempo is rather…upbeat. And by upbeat I mean it felt like a song on fast forward. They were poppin and lockin and droppin, and by the time I popped they were already locked, and by the time I locked they had already dropped. It quickly dawned on me that I was literally the only beginner dancer in the room and that when they said “Hip Hop for Beginners” they didn’t mean “Dancing for Beginners”. All of these people had likely danced their whole lives. Here I was in my old adidas, with my muscular, crossfitty, wide-ass shoulders and lanky long arms and how the hell did that girl get her body to move like that? And.....oh no! This shit really was bananas (pun intended as I pause to laugh at myself).
The old Hannah would have grabbed her gym- bro sized water jug and hightailed it the heck out of there. I quickly felt overwhelming anxiety and fear creep in. I felt like the odd one out, the moth in a terrarium full of butterflies and I wanted OUT. But, I stopped myself. Some of the things I had been encouraging myself to do in the midst of my general and social anxiety was to try new things, be okay with failure, and try not to worry about what other people think of me. And lucky me! That day I got to try all three. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that my failures don’t define me and that I am a bad a$$ b*%ch who can dance off beat if she wants to (sorry mom). Proud to say I finished that whole class and popped and locked and dropped just as much as everyone else…maybe just a second or two behind.
Anxiety has a way of making you feel like you don’t belong. No, literally. If you’re like me, your anxious ego’s dialogue LOVES to tell you how different you are and how you are taking up too much space. This is a feeling I have always struggled with and it has taught me to be silent when I should speak, sit down when I should stand up, and hide in the cape’s shadows when I should be letting my lighthouse shine. It isn’t just a fear of being noticed for doing something wrong, it’s a fear of being noticed at all because you have let the belief that you aren’t good enough and the fear of failing run the show and crack their whip.
That day at the dance studio reminded me of how prevalent those anxious and limiting beliefs have been in my life. And that day, I didn’t let them win. But how many other times have I? How many times have I let the fear of being different or the fear of failure keep me from exploring opportunities, meeting new people, and having fun? Too many to count if I am honest. If I had left in the middle of dance class I would have missed out on meeting some really cool people and having some really meaningful conversation afterward. (Shout out to the people at MOVE! Y'all are so nice and so encouraging)
A gentle reminder (to myself and others) that just like without darkness, there is no light – without failure there is no success, and the only time you TRULY fail is when you stop trying. Failing doesn't have to be the period at the end of your sentence. It can be a comma if you allow it to be. And what’s so bad about failing anyway? Stand up, shake off the dust, and try again. Fix it if you can, learn from it if you can’t, and for goodness’s sake STOP believing that you are the sum of your mishaps and mistakes. Beautiful soul, you are so much more.