Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Maybe I’ll even throw in a few deep, thought-provoking quotes for good measure along the way to break things up. Plus, I will add links to external content wherever I see fit.
Now that you can’t say I didn’t warn you, let’s begin. Read on at your own discretion.
As I mentioned on my last post, this past Lenten season has been by far one of the most incredible and life-changing of my twenty-one years of existence, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. While I don’t want to go into details about it, I will say that it got me thinking about all of the ways in which maybe I sell myself short out of fear or because doing something new would give me that, “Oh man, somebody bring me the trash can, I’m going to stress-vom my almond butter sandwich, here” feeling, and let’s be real: I loathe that feeling. So, for the sake of keeping my lunch in my stomach (among other reasons), I’ve opted out. But is that what I really want for myself? And, to put a more spiritual twist on it, as it was Lent when all of this came to me, is that what God wants for me? To hide my talents and gifts and my true super-happy self from the world because I’m too afraid of how others might respond to that girl?
Every year in the spring, I do the Busy Person’s Retreat, put on by Campus Ministry (side note: I’m now on the CM team for next year…SUPER EXCITED.). This year, my spiritual director asked me who had hurt me in the past. After all, this is likely where my insecurities and anxieties stem from. And as I was thinking about it these past few days, it finally hit me: ballet. My time as a ballet dancer is largely to blame for a lot of the negative feelings I get in my gut before I go and do something new. Let me explain.
During my freshman year of college, I made myself take classes at one of the hardest, best ballet schools in St. Louis. Behind as I was, I was put in the class with the twelve-year-olds, who often asked me if I really was in college. I remember one such conversation with this little red-headed prima. I told her my age/year in school. Her response?
Anyhow, this place was awful. The girls were so, so, so talented. And they knew it. And they had money. (Okay, their parents did.) And they knew it. I, on the other hand, was the college girl who not only was not going to be attending ABT’s summer intensive in NYC, but was also the one who clearly had nothing better to do than hang around with twelve-year-olds in tights every Saturday. They talked bad about me. They exchanged weird looks when they thought I wasn’t looking. I wanted to disappear. I did the next best thing and left at the end of the semester, as dancing was no longer fun at that point.
So I suppose what I’m getting at here is that I’ve been burned. And, as much as I hate to say it, I’ve never let those wounds completely heal, and instead have been anxiously awaiting the next time when somebody else, like some fancy Lululemon clad, Boston-qualifier decides to give me the dreaded once-over. And, as a result, those anxieties have kept me exactly where they want to keep me: somewhere safe, where I can’t get hurt or embarrassed by somebody I know in my heart I’m bigger than.
But that’s no way to live: letting past experiences keep you from being whom you want to be now, or letting people who are probably actually intimidated by you let you believe that you should in fact be afraid of them.
So this evening I did something I was scared to do. My digestive system hated me all day. But this evening, for the first time, I went and joined a running group. I wanted to turn around and go back to my car. Confession: I did. But then I told my Kayanos that they’d be sorry if they carried me anywhere but to where the other runners were. So I walked over to them. And we ran.
And you know what? I was so, so, so glad I did. The running community, unlike the hateful, competitive world of ballet, has been nothing but welcoming of me. I may not have the best splits (HA! Get it…we’re talking about dance and running here!). I may not run every day because of my foot (that’s another thing I have ballet to thank for. Thanks, pointe, thanks.). I may not be Scott Jurek in all of his awesomeness. But you know what? I’m still a runner! And everyone I’ve met thus far has told me nothing less.
Sure, I’ve been hurt in the past. But I don’t want to let that hold me back anymore, because, as I’ve come to discover through running, nobody wants to humiliate me or make me feel bad anymore. And if they do? They’re not the people I need in my life anyway.
So! What are you waiting for? Me to give you a quote? Okay!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
So eloquently said, Mark.
“All of Me” by Tanlines (I swear the number of times I play this album rivals the number of times my little sis plays T-Swift’s new one, whatever it’s called (which I should know considering how much we hear it)).