Choose your own adventure. Remember those books? You’d get to a certain point in the book where you get to decide which way to go next…
I was 12. How old were you when you were first given the choice to feel like you were not good enough? I think I was pretty lucky, I made it til I was in high school before I really coped that lesson. Sure there were times before that where I didn’t feel great about myself for one reason or another but at 12 I had a blow that hit me so hard I think it changed the direction of my life for ever.
It was simple, some would say a normal thing that happens to teenagers all the time. For me, it was the hardest thing I’d dealt with in my life so far…
When I was 6 my mum took me to ballet. Like so many other little girls I caught butterflies, pointed my toes and picked imaginary flowers dressed in pink from head to toe. As soon as I entered that little imaginary world of my own I was in heaven. I was me. You know when you’re in your ZONE, loving life? I get that’s what it was now. I was on top of the world. Luckily for me I was also naturally ‘turned out’ which is ballet speak for – flexible as hell. That combined with the love, passion & pure dedication I had for this created little world of mine made me a ballet teachers dream.
For years I did my thing 2 – 3 times a week I’d arrive early to start at the barre and watch the older girls finish their class while I warmed up on my own. The studio was my happy place, the calmness, the music, the energy. So far from what was at home.
My heart is fluttering and I’m shaking just a little even writing this. It’s taking me right back into the moment. Intense!
Ok so years go by, exams, concerts, pointe shoes, bloody feet, tutu’s, hours of pirouette practise, even when I broke my ankle I worked so hard just to get back in pointes again… it was ALL about dancing. No matter what else was going wrong at school or at home I always had my own place to go to.
Year 7, we were studying intermediate about to move into advanced ballet – it’s the time when you decide how serious you are. Do I do this every afternoon or do I do my homework? Most of the time school work wins. There was no question for me. You don’t need to know algebra to dance do you? I was all in. And no one thought I was delusional. I was told maybe I could do this forever.
The end of year concert was looming, we were in the studio later & later, we started costume fittings, heaven! Until one day Miss J brings in the costume for our ‘Jazz ballet’ dance – a Prince song ‘Cream’– if only we knew what he was singing about!!! BAHAHA
Hot pants. Tiny sequin hot pants. Kyle Minogue style. We had to try them on & mine came all the way up but that was it. No buttoning up, not even nearly. I was not even overweight, just had a bigger arse than the other girls. I can look back and realise that now. But at 12? I wanted to die.
They all just looked at me. Like I would ruin everything if I didn’t fit into those hot pants. We had 3 weeks til the performance. “Lettuce for the next 3 weeks” was the only comment I remember from Miss J.
I can’t even remember clearly the rest of the words or if there was even a real plan. All I can remember is the shame. Humiliation. I felt sick, like I was trapped and wanted to run away and cry. But I couldn’t. I didn’t eat that night.
We finished up and I went home, I didn’t tell my mum anything & I stopped dancing that day. She had no idea what had happened just that I couldn’t face ever going back. I couldn’t talk to her, she couldn’t help me. She didn’t know how to help me get into those pants! Why spread the humiliation further? Have her pity me. Nope. Easier to never feel like that again. So I got tough, real tough. No one was going to mess with me! And I ate, why not? No reason not to now. I think my inner rebel kicked in to protect me, don’t tell me what I can & can’t do. Know what I mean???
I look back now and see all of the repercussions of that day, & my decisions around it. From never allowing myself to look vulnerable to not loving my body that had betrayed me & my dream of being a dancer.
Miss J became the voice in my head. I let her in there. I didn’t know she didn’t belong there.
Last year I had some business coaching. Somehow we got onto this subject – thank you Lyndey Baigent – and it became very clear that I needed to dance again to reclaim my voice & my body. Enter Karyn. I still like to call her Miss Karyn. I love her – she is the dance teacher I wish I’d always had. She is my barre teacher. She knows my story, hugs me after every class and those girls I dance with are my sisters, they have no idea how that hour every Wednesday makes me feel. They will now.
Who’s the voice in your head? Time to reclaim in.
Start with recognising how you talk to yourself. Hear it and start to question who’s voice it is. Is it making you a better person or holding you back? Can you say ‘thank you’ when it throws some crap at you and then choose a better thought to replace it? If you can learn to choose your thoughts, you have the potential to be unstoppable! Start here and see what happens. You CAN choose your own adventure, the story you tell yourself about who you are, what you can do, what you deserve & who you want to spend time with. Only you can make those decisions. I’ve started to choose very wisely. FGF x