I had my first pole dance lesson in 2009. It was on the balcony of an inner city apartment of a woman who went on to open one of the first studios dedicated to this sport in Brisbane. At that time the industry was in it’s infancy and this particular studio was very closely linked to the stripper industry. Many of the instructors worked in nearby strip clubs and the studio frequently did promos in these clubs.
Almost twelve years later I am still on a pole. In all honesty I should be an instructor myself. I should really be amazing but I am still rated as a beginner. Why?
So many reasons. Many of them linked to choices I made. Not practicing enough because I didn’t know exactly WHAT to practice. Getting frustrated because I couldn’t do several key moves that most people master relatively early in their journey. Being loyal to studios and teachers that I had outgrown or who were simply not teaching in a way that worked for me. I can honestly say that I have regressed a lot in the last five years. Or at the least stayed stagnant. Two years ago I was safely cocooned in a studio that made me feel good about my body and taught me a lot about dance and flaunting myself. Sadly it closed and I was left at a loose end. I contemplated many things and wondered if this was time to kiss my pole goodbye.
But I couldn’t kick the habit. I found a studio close to my house and I enrolled. I deliberately didn’t tell them my entire history. Every now and then they can see I have done something and I guess they know I am on a journey. I have deliberately started at the beginning so that I can get rid of some bad habits. It has been productive although sometimes a little frustrating. What is really refreshing is being supported but also given challenges. The difference between this studio and my previous studios is amazing. I love the structure and the way moves are broken down. I love the way success is celebrated. I also love that for the first time I am being forced to do drills and train muscles. Instead of being given vague instructions like “make sure your core is turned on” For the first time I actually know where my core is and how to turn it on properly. I can feel when I am using it.
I don’t consider myself to be completely crazy about pole dance. For me it is more of a slow burn. I think if I had found this space when I started this journey I would be in a very different place right now. But that is OK. My journey is my journey. One of my greatest failings is that I constantly compare myself to others in many different ways and aspects of my life. As a teacher, as a mother, as a blogger, as a wife and as a pole dancer. As a pole dancer I have had to really change my mindset and stop comparing myself to other women around me. We are on a journey but it is OUR journey. It is OUR path that we follow. Some of us walk along a highway that leads us straight to excellence at high speed. Some, like me, get distracted by little side roads and twisting paths. Neither path is better than the other it is just our path.
This lesson is something that can be transferred to other parts of my life. Teachers are encouraged to engage in “reflective practice” What this means is to reflect on lessons we deliver and assess how we could improve things. Especially when the shit hits the fan. Which happens, even to the best of us. This concept is great but it can be a slippery slope. It can easily go from objective thoughts to beating yourself up. Watching other teachers work is a great way to learn. But it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling inferior and as if you will never be good enough. The lesson I learned at my pole, that my journey is MINE, serves me well here. I am a good teacher. My students do appreciate me. I am valued.
Likewise remembering that my journey is valid and not to be compared to others can be applied to my writing. I came back from our voyage thinking I would be all over this writing gig. Then I got put in Twitter jail and my traffic faltered. Getting back to mainstream life has taken a lot more adjustment than I expected. It would be easy to throw my hands in the air and give up because my blog isn’t as professional looking as others and I am not getting the feedback that I was. But again this is MY writing. My journey is not the same as everyone else’s. I am very unique and that is not a bad thing.
So here I am on my journey. Not doing it the same as a lot of people. But it is mine and I have had a lot of experiences that others have not. So I am happy with my twisting, turning paths. They have led me to some very interesting people and some amazing memories.