27 March, 2016

We are legitimate.

When I sat down to write this post it started something like this;
fuck them all.
how dare they try to hold you back.
how dare they believe they know your worth.

I spent nearly two hours just typing, furiously at my keyboard. Letting it all flow from me. Now lets edit it down and see the direction it ended up in. I was angry about a lot of things.

Over a year ago I started to lose my passion, my one love, my life; pole. It started to slip away from me, slowly at first and then around 6 months ago all at once. In the beginning I stressed about it, who was I? What was my identity without pole? How would I live my life without it? Eventually I relaxed, I let it happen. I stopped fighting it, and it turns out I needed to; surrender that is.

My most popular posts, with good reason, have been informative. Personal posts get much fewer "views". I understand that when posting this, few of you will bother to read it and that's okay. This writing, this post, has been cathartic. It has been exactly what I needed now. This is where I get it all on to paper and let it go.

I won't go in to the full deep gory details but for those of you who don't follow this blog or myself closely; over a year ago I had my first ever panic attack and since then I have spent every day finding a way to fight and live with it. This post isn't about this, but it has to be said. It is the context for everything that unfolded.

During the time of my panic attack another incident knocked me back. As a general rule I don't let my life be led by drama. I try not to fall out with people and try to be respectful - understanding any issues from their point of view and looking deep to understand why I feel the way that I do. I always try to talk it out. Sometimes that doesn't work, sometimes you have to let go and walk away. Sometimes difference of opinion, clashes of personality just can't be resolved. That's okay; not everyone has to be your friend, not everyone has to like you.

This small incident just over a year ago, coupled with my mental health, had a knock on effect. I felt small. I had no motivation or belief in myself any more. And I let this person enrage me, burrow deep in my subconscious and rule me. It has been said that you forgive not for the other person but for yourself. This is wholly true. In my case I had no interest in training, my teaching was affected, my passion for this industry waned. I felt blocked. My creativity stunted.

No doubt if the person involved in this incident were to read this, and she may, she will be sat there going, "oh my god, get the fuck over it already!!" and she'd be right. It's not like me to hold on to things, or to let one small thing rule my life. But I suppose in this case this incident was just something tangible to hold on to, an excuse, a reason. My mental health seemed to have none, no starting point, no trigger. I could blame it, I could blame it more, but I didn't, because it was easier to blame a person. At times I would ask whether I wanted to be part of an industry who bowed down to this person. Childish, I know!

Once I surrendered myself to it all, and spent my time elsewhere, I found myself naturally coming back to the pole. Focusing on the teaching side of pole was easy - the vast majority of the students I teach are of beginner or intermediate level. Teaching the same moves over and over is comfortable, is easy. It became important to me to empower my students, more so than I ever have before. I needed to give them the platform and tools to change their lives. That became my focus, not the pole.

If you know where to look the world is full of harsh and horrible people. It's no surprise then that we are all so scared to be our true selves. To shine bright. This is where I ended up, scared to speak, scared to be, scared to dance with abandon.

As an instructor I have seen many weak, broken, self conscious women enter my studio. Beaten down by society, friends, family; people who were supposed to love and care for them. They have no belief in themselves any more. "I can't do that" is the most common phrase uttered in my studio. To the point where I have banned it. I ask for self-positivity in the studio. If they can't be nice to themselves; I at least won't let them be mean.

But I wasn't being very nice to myself through all of this. I was holding myself back and comparing myself to the pole world at large. So let me say this, you and I are legitimate. What we do holds weight. We are important, our creativity and our voice is IMPORTANT. Whether you've taken one class or thousands. We will make mistakes and sometimes what we produce will be goddamn fucking shit but we will learn and grow. We won't stop. We won't let these voices, real or otherwise hold us back.

There will always be people who want to take credit for what you do. Your inspiration will come from all around you. Unless you shut yourself off in a sealed room without any outside contact, that will always be the case. It doesn't make you a lesser artist. There will always be people who want to dampen your achievements.

I actually got told the other day that the reason my classes are so busy is because I don't have any competition. I nearly laughed. Granted this conversation was in relation to our other studio, which has a tonne of competition, it obviously does make things harder. But that's not true I have loads, in the form of every type of fitness and dance taught in the area, other studios, the voice of a prominent local who doesn't like me much. My students come from far and wide, many driving over half an hour to get to me; from towns that have other pole studios, others that don't. I built up my classes from two hours a week and a few students to over 9 hours and over 90 active students a week. I then took on private students, a kids aerial hoop class and group classes at our studio in Trowbridge and was made the manager. With support and help from only one person. I listened, watched and learnt from those around me, online and in real life, and put it in to practice. Without that effort I would have maybe less than a handful of students. I've dragged them in, I've nagged them in, I've encouraged them in. And for the most part they've stayed. I'm sure I've upset some people along the way. We all have. But I now have a community of students, who I adore and love. Pole is not a necessity, it's a luxury, and with luxury products you have to create demand. For the most part people won't just walk on in and find you. You have to find them. And I did.

Now I must re-direct that energy not only in to my business but in to my craft.

It's taken a lot of soul searching to get to this point. But I'm back and I won't silence myself again.