This last weekend I had a very enlightening experience…

My Dad took my sister and I and my sister’s fiance to a dance to celebrate his birthday. I’ve always loved ballroom dancing and my dad used to teach us girls when we were young. I’ve since forgotten most of it but on the rare occasion Dad takes me dancing I pick it back up pretty quick. We were dancing together and had several laughs as I stepped on his toes or spun into another couple while trying to remember the Swing and Cha Cha. A song ended and, rather out of breath from dance and laughter, I said to Dad, “Ok, I need a break! You should grab Jasmine and dance with her.” To which my Dad replied, “I don’t think she’ll try. She’s more self-conscious than you.” I burst into a laugh of disbelief. If you haven’t met my sister Jasmine, you’re missing out on a real treasure! She’s fun, bubbly, out-going, gorgeous, kind, thoughtful, half my size, and the most confident person I know in public settings. She’s a social butterfly and flourishes in groups while I, the introvert, feel like throwing up when more than 6 people are in a room together. So, when my Dad implied that I was more confident than Jasmine to be free, be myself, let go and have fun no matter what all these people thought of my terrible dancing, I was astounded! A quote came to mind from our Smart is Sexy meeting the week before – “For many of us, there is no form of self-expression that makes us feel more vulnerable than dancing.”
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown talks a great deal about vulnerability and how important it is to be the real you instead of who you think others want you to be. She says, “If we have a friend, or a small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.” The only place I have always been filled with a true sense of belonging despite my imperfections and being incredibly vulnerable is Aerial Dance. I show the most of myself there (emotionally and physically) and have never once felt judged, belittled or ashamed for who I am. Quite the opposite in fact – the first people in the world to see my post baby belly was my Intermediate class learning Embrace. How ironic that they cheered me on when I showed the least attractive part of myself and embraced me who I am and what my body could do.
As we discussed her book last week, I listened to how many others at the table struggled with authenticity and vulnerability. Many shared their stories and I noticed that, while we all have insecurities, many of our greatest joys and stories happen in the moments we are out of our comfort zone. Brene wrote, “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.” Every single person is a work in progress, not a one of us is perfect, no matter what someone’s facebook profile looks like.
Dancing with my Dad made me realize that Aerial Dance has helped me with more than just strength and weight loss. It is a place that has helped me learn to embrace myself for who I am. I have begun to own my story, good and bad, struggles and successes, and share than story with others. I have become a more authentic person. A person who can see someone struggling, walk up to them and say, “Hey, I’ve been there. I’m willing to listen if you want to talk. We all have bad days and I’m able to help you get through yours. Whatever you need. I care about you.” Aerial Dance gives you a safe place to reveal the real you and practice authentic courage, practice compassion for yourself and others, and building real and meaningful connections. I’m so very blessed to have found a place where I can open up and practice being Tessa without judgement so I can slowly start being the real me in the rest of the world!