I love Zumba. It’s my newest activity in the fitness world. I find myself doing little salsa steps in the kitchen and hearing the music in my head. I’m beginning to learn the routines, and I even had a moment in yesterday’s class where I correctly anticipated an upcoming move. That gave me a split second of feeling pretty terrific, which of course caused me to lose my focus and completely miss the next series of steps.
I am not a natural for Zumba or any other kind of dance class. I’m not the least bit graceful, and I’m not sure I even have the body parts that I see the instructor moving. When I tried to show off a move to my husband, he said with some alarm, “Be careful! You’ll hurt yourself!” He’s impressed by my weight lifting, but a swiveling torso—that looks pretty risky.
Going to Zumba was a leap outside my comfort zone. I did what most newcomers do: I hid in the back row and hoped no one was watching me. I tried to find people who knew the routines so I could follow (I could barely see the teacher from the back of a large class), but I also tried to find people who didn’t know what they were doing. People who were klutzier and more out of step than I.
In other words, I wanted to assure myself that I wasn’t the worst one there.
Do we ever get over this desire to compare ourselves and to prove we are not the worst? Do we ever forget the childhood anxiety of fearing we’ll be chosen last for the team or the engrained embarrassment of having someone laugh at our awkwardness or appearance? Do we ever get beyond the need to be judged acceptable by others—even in situations where others’ views are ridiculously insignificant?
Admittedly, when I looked around I felt comforted: I saw others who moved haltingly, or who couldn’t catch up with a pattern, or who lacked the wiggle in the middle or the shimmy of the shoulders. I saw every variety of movement along the continuum of graceful to clumsy. I saw limber people and lumbering people.
What I didn’t see was anybody making fun of anybody else or any grim, angry, or hostile faces. The only judgment I could find was my own. So I wiped the concern from my mind and threw myself into the dance—with just enough abandon to have a really good time…safely.
Questions for Reflection: What do you notice when you go out of your comfort zone? What childhood reactions or memories get in the way of your ability to try new things? Do you ever start comparing yourself to others when you feel insecure? Do you enjoy activities even if you are not naturally suited for them?
Writing Prompts: “When I am insecure in a situation, I start to ______” (then keep writing); “I start to compare myself to others when ______” (then keep writing); “I want to start doing ______, but the thought of it makes me feel ______” (then keep writing); “This blog reminds me of the time when ______” (then keep writing).