Yesterday I was at the gym. The gym is my own personal escape. I was thinking about how natural it is for me to be there. Working out is part of who I am. If I miss too many days at the gym, I don’t feel like myself.
But it wasn’t always that way. I remember walking into the gym, being intimidated by all the strange equipment. Once I did venture into the world of weights, I did so timidly – intentionally visiting the gym during the hours when the least people were there. I felt incredibly awkward being the only girl in the weight area. Now, I don’t give it a second thought. If I have the gym to myself, or the place is packed, it makes no difference to me (as long as I don’t have to wait for equipment! 😉 )
The point is, in all new ventures, we all start somewhere. In the beginning, whatever you are trying to learn feels awkward, intimidating, out-of-reach. But with time, it becomes second nature.
I recently started salsa. I love it. It’s so fun – both to watch and to dance! But I am very much in the early days, fully aware of my incapabilities and two left feet. That said, I have the history in other areas of life to know if I keep at it, the day will come when I will be able to dance without focusing on each step. It will become second nature.
Last week, the beginner class was mixed with the improvers. I felt like a little minnow in with the big fish! We danced steps I had never seen before, partnered with people who have been dancing for ages. That’s part of learning something new though – sometimes it is good to be thrown into the deep end. You can learn more than you think you can.
What stood out to me though, was the reaction of my partners. We rotated partners, so we ladies danced with each man, a couple of times. 9 out of 10 were SO nice. Many of them took extra time to teach a part of the routine, or say some kind or encouraging word. One guy said, “You’re all over the place”, in a not-very-nice way. I just laughed, but I thought about it afterwards. I thought about how people’s reactions make a strong impact on our experience. This man didn’t really affect me, because everybody else balanced out the experience with kindness. But if 9 out of 10 guys seemed irritated to be dancing with a beginner, I wonder if I’d even go back.
It was a lesson to myself. The man who made that comment probably had no idea that it was my first time seeing or trying those steps. In life, we don’t know somebody’s back story. But when we show kindness, we can encourage others to try, learn and master new things – and to enjoy it!
I have to add here, that the people I have met through salsa have been incredibly kind, welcoming and patient. Always happy to teach me a dance step, or work with me on a technique. Not only that, they have welcomed me as a friend. Truly, some of the kindest, loveliest people ever.
I’m always amazed by people who come to an English speaking country without knowing any english. Most of the people I have met are fluent in english by the time I know them. But I love their strength of spirit and willingness to immerse themselves in a completely foreign culture that speaks a completely foreign language. And then how that experience changes them, the new language becomes a part of who they are. Some have told me they think in English and rarely speak in their native tongue. Their entire identity has expanded and changed by their willingness to try something new, and put themselves in an uncomfortable circumstance.
Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation is the best way to expand who you are as a person – to learn and master something new. Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from discovering a new love in life!