Inside and outside of pole class, we often compare ourselves to our fellow students and our pole icons. While this comparison can inspire and drive us, it can also be a source of negative energy on our pole journey. Pole dancing is an unusual sport in that most dancers and athletes don’t start training until adulthood. Still, cross-training in cardiovascular or strength sports translates to pole dance, allowing those with more experience to accelerate faster through difficult moves. As one who did not play sports or exercise regularly before pole dance, I have made slower progress with pole than some of fellow students. At times, I have been self-conscious of the lack of progress I’ve made throughout my 4.5 years of off-and-on pole exercise. When I start mulling over these thoughts, I remind myself that the only person I’m trying to be better than is myself. I make progress at every class and practice I attend. 

This lesson is universal. Whether in athletics, education, career, or personal development, the only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Progress is not linear; it is a rollercoaster of peaks and valleys. We fall back, make mistakes, lose hope, but we also try again and improve with each effort. We must be gracious with ourselves and others through their struggles, development, and achievement. We deserve it.