Overcoming the fear factor

One of the biggest struggles for me at the moment is working through the fear factor. The fear of being alone, fear of not finding love, fear of not becoming a mum, the fear of not being happy with myself.

There’s not a lot I can do about some of those things but there is something I can do about being happy with myself. I’ve known for a while that I needed a hobby. A real struggle with online dating is listing what you’re interested in and what you do for fun, for a hobby. I certainly have things that I enjoy, but I wouldn’t call them hobbies.

I started thinking about it. What do I enjoy and what can I do more of? Dancing came up. Dancing is something I enjoy; I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it. My bestie used to do belly dancing so I whipped out Google to find somewhere local. I couldn’t find something that seemed right so I expanded my search and got the right fit. Pole dancing. Yep. Pole dancing.

After a little hesitation and far too much over thinking, I thought bugger it, and signed up for an eight-week course. The class times suited and the term started the following week. I’m now four weeks in, and last night I finally started to feel proud of myself.

I’m not proud of my body; I’d like to be slimmer, have smaller hips, thighs and a smaller bottom, a toned down belly. The usual really. But it’s more than just appearance for me. I’m lacking confidence in my body’s strength and ability to give me what I want. I’ve labeled my miscarriage as my body’s ultimate betrayal. My body wasn’t able to sustain a pregnancy; there must be something wrong with me, with it.

I am growing to accept my body. At times I do feel quite pretty, attractive even, happy with my figure and features. When I get dressed up, I’m happy with my reflection in the mirror. I also remember that Gary, and other guys, have made me feel sexy – they never complained about my body and in fact enjoyed it. So why shouldn’t I accept it, enjoy it, as well?

Past feelings of sexiness isn’t enough however to give me the confidence to dance around a pole in underwear. I had to think beyond my body and focus on the physical activity, the skill involved, the strength I’ll gain and the fact that I’m doing something that isn’t work, isn’t self-loathing and isn’t filled with pity. I’m doing it to meet new people, try something different and get out of the house. I’m doing something incredibly unlike me, yet completely right for me.

What I have found is that pole dancing is actually quite empowering. I’m enjoying telling others that I’m taking pole-dancing lessons. I feel sexy and cheeky and a little naughty when I tell people about it. My psychologist gave me a high five and my friends are keen to learn more, see the epic bruises I’m getting (I do mean epic – I think my right shin will be a continual bruise, layer after layer after layer). I like sharing my experiences.

I was quite open, yet incredibly nervous, for my first class. Would the teacher be nice, would the other students be nice, would they be slimmer than me, bigger than me, better than me? Would I be able to let myself go with the flow and eventually end ‘bottoms up’? I needn’t have worried. Everyone is friendly and helpful and supportive; we’re at different levels but we’re all learning and focusing on ourselves. We’re there to get fit and have fun; try something different.

But, the lessons are tough; this isn’t just swinging around a pole. This is a true workout and you move body parts you didn’t know moved and you move in ways you hadn’t thought of before. It is incredibly sexy, the movements, the hair flicking, the confidence and the attitude. I can’t help but compare myself to the others and then hide behind my lack of co-ordination. I have told myself not to give up, that my teacher has been doing this for years and I have literally just started. It was a fight for me to keep going; I do lack co-ordination with finer movements and I over-think all the moves, so I’m stilted rather than flowing. So my confidence has suffered, but I told myself that I was not to give up.

We’ve been taught new moves each week, expanding on the week before. I’m taking my time with it, trying not to over think the moves and let myself go. But I am holding myself back, allowing the fear factor to take over. The truth is though, I’ve already got lots of bruises and they are the worst injury I’ll get. So last night, I finally just told my mind to shut up and I actually completed a chair spin. I had both legs off the ground and spun around the pole. I felt good. I felt confident. I felt that I could do this, that I will do this. I stopped thinking about it, and just went with the flow. I got the move and I felt so proud.

I have a long way to go and so much to work on, but I’m going to do it. This is for me. I’m feeling empowered and better about my body; I’m getting over the fear factor and learning to accept myself further. I’m letting myself go so I’ll get more spinning done, I’ll be dancing around that pole in no time. The fear will of course still make an appearance, but once upon a time I couldn’t walk, talk or drive. Perseverance and practice got me through. And they will do again. It’s okay to have fear, but it’s important to work through it. Pole dancing: a hobby for fitness, empowerment and overcoming fear.

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Author: Laura

In my 30s, simply working my way or travelling my way through it.

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