“At some point in our life there may come a time when we feel insecure about ourselves. We might judge our ability to do something or feel self-conscious about the way we look. It does not matter how this feeling manifests in our life, but it is important to be aware of our thoughts and how they impact our view of ourselves. Once we remember that insecurities are a normal part of life for everyone — even those who appear to be extremely self-assured — we may find it easier to step back from the uncertainty that lies within and take a more realistic look at ourselves.
“The desire to improve or better ourselves is a natural response that arises when we begin to compare our lives to those of other people. It might seem, for example, that we do not have nearly as much going for us as our neighbor, best friend, or coworker. In truth, what we think we see about another person is usually what they want us to notice. They may be putting on a mask, trying to make things in their lives seem better than they are. If we were to look at their lives a little more closely, we would also realize that they are human, full of glorious imperfections that make them who they are. Recognizing this may take some time at first. Should we, however, feel our uncertainties begin to surface, taking deep breaths while at the same time acknowledging each one of our gifts will help us become more centered. Doing this allows us to see the wonders that lie within and lets our inner beauty shine forth into the world all the more brightly.
“When we hold up such a detailed mirror to our lives and weigh ourselves against others, we are not able to see the things that make us truly unique. Giving ourselves permission to appreciate all the universe has given us, however, will make us feel more secure about ourselves and more able to use our gifts to their fullest.”
This was my Daily Om newsletter tip the other day, and I thought it was highly relevant to the way that we — well, perhaps not you, but certainly I — tend to shrink inward in wounded self-image after a physical trauma like this.
Because I’d grown up very physically expressive, my identity was one of practically boundless energy, as I was born equipped with fast-twitch muscles and therefore ran quick and jumped high. I wasn’t a “traditional” athlete, but I did cultural dance and gymnastics as a child, and later graduated to two years on my school’s spirit squad (dance/cheerleading), played on school volleyball teams and ran track, did rowing camp twice in England, and was cast always as a dancer in high school musicals. My senior year of high school, we had the opportunity of hiring ComedySportz coaches to train us to do an improv comedy show for the spring play, during which I was told my greatest strength was the “largeness” of my bodily movements. So, this physical “downfall” was in a way a robbery of the way I’d identify myself.
This summer, I found myself religiously hooked on So You Think You Can Dance (I’d never seen it before). Now, I’m not usually a reality show watcher, but I will occasionally make exceptions for talent-competition type shows because, I’d wager most may admit to this, they satisfy a minor desire within us to live vicariously through these outstanding contestants. (After the horrendous injustice that occurred when Adam Lambert didn’t win Idol, I boycotted it.)
I found the experience far more exhilarating than I’ve felt for any other show. It wasn’t just a vicarious-living sentiment for me, but a great impatience to just snap out of this already and get back to dance. Push myself to dance properly like I used to — and even better, of course. I was never quite as hardcore as these impressive athletes and artists are — so don’t get any wrong ideas. But their art in their movements touched a part of my spirit that had long since been dormant. There was choreography that never in a zillion tries had I ever been able to do (like aerials and back flips), as I lacked their training and probably routine discipline . . . but it never hurts to dream. The kicker is, I have a dancer’s body, a petite but muscular build with precisely the fast-twitch fibers that I assume most dancing requires, so when I see beautifully performed dance, there is a longing that vibrates from within, and I’ve honestly had that since I was at least five years old when I begged my father to let me take ballet (alas, he never did, as he didn’t want me to develop muscular legs — guess the joke’s on him). In October, I’m dragging my sister to the SYTYCD tour when it hits Chicago.
I remember as a freshman at university, I would frequently gather groups of friends to go downtown and hit the High Dive, a little-known dance club that admitted even nineteen-year-olds. To get there required either a car (which I hadn’t brought down to school) or to take an off-campus bus, but I loved to go dancing so much that I made it happen anyway.
Nowadays? I’ve probably been dancing something like under twenty times in the seven years I’ve been this way, and this is no coincidence. While my body was made for dance (and of this I am thoroughly convinced), I unfortunately hide under that ubiquitous insecure-wallflower guise that many people too shy to dance in public employ when they go out. I guess it’s pretty convenient that it’s socially acceptable to hang out on the sidelines on the dance floor, but I can barely put to words how frustrating it is to have to do it because I feel too ashamed to get out there and bust a move at 60%. (It’s similar to the feeling I get in Italy when people assume, upon looking at me, that I don’t speak the language. Which I do.)
Rationally, this is complete nonsense, because dance is about physical expression. It’s the way you feel the beat and want to translate the music through your physical movements, and like all art, if it brings you joy, you should do it whether or not you have good technique.
But . . . at the same time, forgive me for being candid, but there is nothing that makes me cringe more than poorly written poetry.
You know what I mean. Technique is what qualifies your art to be shown to the masses. And so if you’ve got any (albeit superficial?) insecurities as a result to any traumatic injury you’ve had, be it physical or however, rest assured that I understand completely.
I can’t really offer a solution to the issue, other than doing a little self-examination and working at minimizing the insecurity as much as possible, but I did think that by sharing this, I may shed some insight on an aspect of disability acquisition that perhaps is too often ignored and not addressed. So if you’re not the one who’s in this position, please at least use this as a tool to better understand why sometimes we make up lies or hide behind a façade that isn’t true to character. So please, be kind.
To our healing,