I learned early on that I should not compare my pole journey to someone else’s pole journey.
But that is so. freeking.  hard.
I have been doing this crazy pole thing for about 3 years. I’m an Advanced student, and I’ve honestly been at that skill level (to me) for at least a year and a half. Transitions to Superman kick my butt, and I still can’t nail a Hooked Recline. I could go on for a while about what moves are a struggle for me and make it hard to really break into Extreme level moves (even before my “break”). These are things that haunt my dreams.

4 shows

It’s been 3 years and 4 shows…. time flys!

Enter the “naturals.” The women who waste almost no time making it up to the Extreme level. It looks like everything comes easy to them. They can nail a move in the first few tries and make it look BEAUTIFUL. With a SMILE on their face, no less. The ones that are in your class and nail the moves you’ve been struggling with for what seems like forever. Some of you know that you are, and some of you don’t.  I am extremely jealous of you and extremely proud of you all at once. I’m jealous, because you’re doing what I’ve not yet been able to achieve, and you do it with ease in almost no time flat. I’m proud of you, because…. I don’t know, I just am. How could I not be proud when I know how difficult it is to do what you’re doing? I’m also going to expect a lot out of you, because I know darn well you can do it :).
Lately, every time I encounter one of these naturals, I end up leaving that encounter wondering, “How the…… how can they do that?” How can you do, with ease, what has been ailing me for YEARS? Not fair. I actually get mad! Not at the woman with natural talent, but at myself. If she can do this so easily, I must be doing something wrong. The problem has to be me, since I’m the only element that changes. I end up leaving the studio in a combination of mad, sad, and motivated.
If I carry it around, it just pulls me deeper. That’s what’s been happening since I started, and more since I came back–I just keep sinking deeper and deeper. It becomes less motivating to improve, and almost more motivating to take on a sense of apathy. I have left the studio, on more than one occasion, so upset. I’m re-living all the feelings now and I’m actually crying as I write this and ask: Why me? Why do I have to struggle? Why can’t ALL of this come easier to me like it does to those naturals? Self-defeat likes to crawl in and say, “It’s hopeless, you’ll never get it, don’t bother.” It is just SO frustrating when you’ve been at the same move, some of the same things, for what feels like FOREVER, what I’m certain is years, and it still eludes you—and it seems like it only eludes YOU. It’s not true, but it feels that way. Everyone else doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. Folks that have started, literally years after you are getting it in a snap. I do believe I have just short of thrown a tantrum on occasions where I have struggled with a certain move. Flag–dear goodness– is one that is guaranteed to piss me off. I just can’t, for the life of me, get it. Everyone else I’m around does, and the last time we had it as a move in class, I think I was the only one who couldn’t do it. Everyone was trying so hard to help me, and I really appreciated that. Still, I got so worked up that I felt that I could throw a tantrum, a “why me” tantrum, and I had to leave that move alone.
I’ve actually had almost the same feeling when it comes to algebraic math. You’re laughing right now, but the struggle is real–or at least it was for me. I took high school Algebra 1 twice, and college Pre-Calculus twice. I remember calling my mother, mad as a badger and in tears because I JUST DIDN’T GET IT. I couldn’t understand why I had to struggle, why my brain just couldn’t *poof* understand it. Even though I learn from failure, I do NOT like failing. I was doing a lot of that in my math classes. I was so mad at myself, I felt that there was something wrong with me. I could excel at plenty of other things, so why couldn’t I excel at this too?
Something IS wrong with me, but it’s also not. What is wrong is that I keep defaulting to the negative, to what I can’t do. There really is plenty that I CAN do.  When I stop and think about it, I know that there are people who struggle with some of the things that I find easy. Another thing wrong is that I hold some sort of twisted belief that this person of natural talent is somehow my measuring stick. There is no measuring stick. I have it set in my head that I need to reach a certain skill in a certain time, and that’s just not true. There’s no real deadline, just the one I made for myself when I started comparing. It is NOT a race– it never has been.
If you have ever felt like me, or even still do, you’re not alone. It’s going to be OK. Together, we need to hold a positive and realistic view of ourselves. We need to celebrate our strengths and our victories. We also need to work many times harder to get past those weaknesses. This means more practice, more repetitions, and perhaps even more conditioning and cross-training to build strength in the areas we lack.
Those of natural talent–keep on being awesome. Even if I am frustrated that I can’t be like you, you motivate me. When you do the move that I’ve been struggling to do, you show me that it really is humanly possible. When you do those harder moves I haven’t gotten to yet, you show me that there’s more fun ahead. I strive to do what you’re doing, so I work harder. I train more. Your natural bad-assery can be supremely motivating, and very pretty to watch.
Even though it’s very hard, don’t compare yourself to another. You’re not the same person as them, AT ALL, so your struggles will be far different then theirs. Keep working hard and never give up on your goals and dreams. Keep pushing, keep striving. Ask for help and advice. Train, train, train–and someday, it’ll come to you :).
I leave you with these lovely words of advice that I found, which I should probably write on my mirror at home:
bitter and better