Growth hurts. Any gym bro will tell you this. To get the gains, you must go through soreness. This actually starts far earlier in life though, and in my experience so far, never goes away. First it starts with teething. Then some years go by and we get achy joints from growing upward. Not too long after that, our wombs and chests start to hurt, which ushers in the era of our child bearing years.

After these years, as we transition into adulthood, a switch happens. The growth (and pain associated with it) seems to become less literal and more of an abstract concept. We begin to work through trauma, and new traumas do not hesitate to kick us while we are down. But something incredible happens on the other side; we have a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. Think about this – in order for a stab wound to heal, you must remove the knife. Life is, by and large, really hard. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful as well, but it is difficult. The understanding does not always happen right away. It can be years or even decades before the pain stops and the healing is evident.

I’ve found the journey at Aerial Dance symbolic of the journey through life. As “baby” polers (regardless of age on this one) we have no clue what to do, and we need a whole team of mentors to guide us through it. After some time – and all on our own time – we start to find our footing. We develop realistic ideas about where we are now versus where we want to be. The mentors are still absolutely there, but the knowledge of what bounds we must not pass grows. The beautiful part about it is that, we don’t remember the specific bruises, or exactly the date we first cried in class due to feeling unsuccessful. But what never leaves are the first inclings of success. Emails from instructors wishing us well; marking a nemesis move off as “proficient”; getting to know other beautiful humans who, despite our ages and backgrounds, are all finding ourselves on this journey together.

There have been times when I thought my journey was over – both in life and at Aerial Dance. And now looking back, I can’t imagine all the wasted potential if either one of them had ended.