“Yeah, right.” Your posture says it all: eyebrows raised, head shaking, laughing in disbelief, exchanging glances with other students as if to say, “Do you see this? Is she serious right now?” The instructor just demonstrated the next move the class is going to do, and you’re convinced you’ll never get it. You see a couple other people go first, but rationalize their success by telling yourself that they’re more advanced, or more flexible, or stronger. Now it’s your turn. She talks you through the moves as you follow along. So far so good, but now comes the scary part. “Okay, now let go,” she tells you. You stare at her like a deer caught in the headlights. “It’s ok, I’m right here. You can do this. Trust me.” And you let go. And you don’t die. You’re doing it! The instructor turns you so you can face yourself in the mirror. Your face is a bit red and your foot isn’t pointed, but that doesn’t matter right now because YOU’RE DOING IT! You get off the apparatus (clumsily, but whatever), and you’re all smiles and pounding heart. The instructor gives you a high five, and you take a moment to catch your breath before attempting the move on the other side. You’re quicker setting up this time, and when the instructor tells you to let go again, you don’t hesitate. Another success!
And so it goes. The more we practice a move and the more classes we take, the more we learn to trust. We trust the apparatus, we trust our instructors, and we trust ourselves. There are moments when our bodies and minds are telling us we can’t do something, but we learn when to hold back because of legitimate safety concerns – like sweaty hands or fatigue at the end of a class – and when to recognize that that voice is just fear of the unknown. Quite often, it’s the latter. As we build trust, it gets easier and easier to push past that fear and move into growth until it becomes habitual.
In my own pole and aerial journey, I’ve had to make the conscious choice to try new things despite my fear – to choose trust – countless times. When Instructor Niki told me as a beginner to practice sitting on the pole at every practice because it would make it hurt less over time, I chose to trust her despite the pain I felt in the moment. When learning my first invert, I trusted Instructor Chrissy when she told me I could let go with my hands despite the fact that I was, ya know, upside down. Some of the hardest times to trust was when I was told I was ready to advance to the next level of a class. Every single time, I would fret that I didn’t yet have the strength necessary for the new moves, or that I wasn’t familiar enough with the moves I did know to start adding on. At every new step, there’s been a level of fear. But even when I didn’t trust myself, I trusted the instructors, and so far, they haven’t been wrong.
The prospect of becoming an instructor brought on its own fears. Am I ready for this? Am I skilled/fun/knowledgeable enough? Can I communicate in a way that will help people learn? What if I make a mistake? For me (and I’m guessing for many of us), the fear I feel when presented with something new is a habit. It happens without much thought, as if by instinct. But my trust is ready to counter that fear. I trust my instructors that have trained me so far. I trust Paula and the curriculum that she’s designed to prepare new instructors. I trust my classmates-turned-students to continue being their supportive (if sometimes sassy) selves. And despite my fears, I trust myself. I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I can do hard things. I’ve been given the skills I need to succeed and to help others succeed. I’ve learned how to lean on others when I can’t do something on my own. I’ve learned how to recognize my fear and then choose to move past it. I know my habit of fear is always going to be present, but it can’t compete against my habit of trust.