Monthly Archives: August 2017

Never Have I Ever (Until Now): Chapter 3 – Truth, Dare, and Dance

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Never Have I Ever (Until Now): Chapter 3 – Truth, Dare, and Dance

Disclaimer: Five years ago,  I set off on a journey that I never anticipated would change my life in such an incredible way. The goal was to try 52 hobbies in 52 weeks. At the onset, I had intended to write a book compiling the experiences and sharing them. I wasn’t sure at the time if the book would be a quirky coffee-table accessory or if something else might evolve. As it turns out, I never published the book, but I did write most of it. Over time, I’ve gone back to it, time-and-time again. With the five year anniversary of the project, I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing it: One chapter at a time.

This is Chapter 3
For the intro to the book, head HERE!
For Chapter 1 (Vulnerability) click HERE!
For Chapter 2 (Untitled- Pole Dancing) click HERE!
For the original Hobby post this chapter digs into, visit HERE!

Truth, Dare, and Dance

My parents often brag about how I said my first word at just 6 months old, but rarely do they talk about my first steps. That’s because I’m pretty much convinced that I crawled until I was three-years-old. I’m almost positive that they’ve kept this a secret from me my whole life. I believe this, because I’ve never been graceful.  At the age of 4, I broke my arm, got a concussion from falling down the stairs, and sprained my ankle after jumping from a tree house, all within several months of one another. Then, at the age of 7, while playing during indoor recess, I crawled straight into a desk, cut open the skin above my eye and needed to be rushed to the hospital to get stitches. Years later, when I was a sophomore in high school I broke my left hand, and several weeks later, I broke my right one (or at least the fingers). Finally, in 2015, I broke my hand, sprained another ankle, and went onto break my foot in the final months of the year. Among these injuries, I suffered from countless others: stitches to the chin, sprained knees, sprained wrists, sprained hands, tendonitis, concussions, contusions, bumps, and scrapes. I often lost my balance, and was very clumsy. Needless to say, we went through a lot of bandaids, and a lot of bags of frozen peas substituted as ice bags, in my childhood home.

It should be no surprise then that dancing growing up was never my strong suit.

In fact, I can very vividly remember during a game of Truth or Dare, at an 8th grade birthday party, being humiliated as I was dared to show my “dance moves” on a chair. During the dare, someone laughed at me and said, “You can’t just hump the chair.” I tried again, but the laugher was contagious. Everyone caught on, except for me.

 I left the sleepover the next morning telling myself over and over again that by the time the next school dance came around, “I would show them” and prove that I could “get jiggy with it.”

 However, when my chance came to hit the dance floor again, the result wasn’t so hot. One of my good friends at the time kindly said that for me to dance would take some work—or more like a lot of work. She added, “Try and work it like this,” as she shook her hips gracefully across the school gym.

I had no idea what I was doing. All the kids were “grinding” and to me that was just what my teeth did at night.

It took me years to get comfortable with attempting to publicly dance, and even when I started feeling comfortable enough to dance, I still carried a great weight of self-consciousness on my shoulders.

This might explain why any time I had tried to attend a group dance class prior to pole dancing, I found myself defeated, and walking out before the class had been completed. And I can assure everyone that It wasn’t because I was out of shape, or simply tired. I was very obviously choreographically challenged.

As my dance classmates would ChaCha right, and Zumba left, I would stand in the back spinning in circles until my feet were tangled into a knot. The situation would subsequently stress me out. “Who is watching me?” “This is so embarrassing” “How can I sneak out without anyone noticing?” “Is that the bass of the song or is that the sound of my heart beating outside of my chest?” “Is that the roof leaking, or am I sweating that much?” “Wait, am I sweating cause I’m dancing so hard, or am I sweating because I’m terrified?” “Where did I put my bag…Did I leave it near the door? Is it close enough to grab it and run?”

And with that I’d find myself sprinting from a gym class to the locker room, vowing I would never return to a group dance class again.

 Now with my new found confidence at Pole Dancing, I decided it was time to to try and tackle another dance class. Though, this time, instead of trying another Zumba class, I recruited a good friend of mine, and went ahead and signed up for a beginner hip-hop class.

Like pole dancing, I instantly felt intimidated as I walked into the dance school. Everyone there was wearing bright colored, professional looking hip-hop shoes; baggy sweats; and an easy relaxed tank. I had on my running shoes, a pair of field hockey shorts, and a white t-shirt. It wasn’t difficult to feel out of place.

 Everyone was also chatting, as if they knew one another. As I looked at my friend, I questioned:  “Is this the illuminati of dance?”

Then I whispered to the woman next to me who was tightening her laces: “This is the beginner class, right?”

“Yeah—but he doesn’t always treat it like a beginner class. It’s fast paced.”

Of course he didn’t.

All I wanted was to learn how to “shake it” without falling; but instead, of course, I would pick the “Be Beyonce’s next back up dancer” class.

Like a cartoon character, I verbally made a “gulp,” sound.

I turned back to my friend. She didn’t seem nervous at all. I was grateful I had brought her. I knew I’d feel more comfortable if I had someone else with me who hadn’t tried it before. And she was calm. She was ready to dance, and that energy was contagiousas we took our spots on the dance class floor. Not before long, we were shimmying to our left, shaking it to our right, spinning, and hip-hopping all over the room—or attempting to at least. I began to sweat as I lost my balance.

“You’ll get it,” one girl confidentially said to me. “Just take it slow.”

Frustrated, I continued to try and keep up. But the teacher was moving quickly. My friend and I had split up into two different spots in the room. She seemed to be getting it. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by the Justin Timberlakes and Keshas of beginner dance. They moved effortlessly, their legs stretching far beyond any point of flexibility that I might be able to.

 And just as I started to get one eight count down, our teacher began moving on to the next one. I had to remind myself that this was my first time. I wasn’t supposed to be perfect. Patiently, I continued to try and find my rhythm.  One of my main issues in the past about group dance classes had always been, “Well what if the others in the class judge me.”

 But what I was learning as I struggled through 5,6,7,8 was that these people weren’t there to judge someone who couldn’t do a two-step. These people were there to better themselves, to get good at something they loved doing—or to try something that they’ve always wanted to try. They weren’t concerned if I was hip-hopping to the left when they were spinning to the right. As long as I didn’t get in their way, my skills weren’t a matter of their concern.

These people weren’t there for me. They were there for exactly who they should have been. And as we approached the end of the class, I realized that I too was there for the one person I was supposed to be there for: myself.

This epiphany was the perfect reminder as the class let out. This moment of clarity was the difference between me abandoning a class the way I had before, and me finishing the class with my eyes set ahead. It was the difference between me leaving the class and vowing I’d never go back and me saying “I’d like to try that again.”

The next day, my co-worker asked me how it went. I told her that it was fun—difficult—but fun. She asked me to show her what we learned in the class. I was nervous. Would she judge me the way my 8th grade classmates did? Would I run away, scared?

Instead of declining in shame, I took a deep breath, found the song online, hit play and then stepped it out.

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 Unlike my eighth grade classmates, she didn’t laugh. She was actually impressed. And I won’t lie; I was impressed too. The moves that I struggled to put together just one night earlier seemed to be flowing easily now. My muscles had retained the information. I got tap happy with the music, as I showed the dance again. I wanted to keep doing it—I wanted to keep showing it off. An overwhelming feeling of pride accumulated throughout my body.

Excited, I thought to myself, ‘This is going to be an awesome year.’ And then I yawned, “And an exhausting one.”

 

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I Was Wrong About The Hobby Hoarder

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Recently, I’ve been sharing chapters from the book that I wrote during and subsequently following the initial two Hobby Hoarder years. Now several years removed from the project and a few years older, I thought it might be time to reflect even more deeply. I’ll still share chapters from the book. But wanted to share what I consider to be an “out-cerpt.”

It’s been five years since I initiated the Hobby Hoarder project, and sometimes I find myself pondering how it was possible—How could I have ever done one hobby each week, how could I have ever afforded it, how could I have ever preached that anything was possible when now at points I feel so tired, when the bills are so big, when I prefer a Friday night at home to a Friday night out; when time moves so fast.

The truth is that as we age—our bodies change, our minds change, and our lives change. I didn’t believe people when they told me that. Some people said “Just wait until you’re older. Life will be different. You won’t be able to keep up with the hobbies. You’ll have more responsibilities. It won’t be easy. ” I didn’t want to listen to these people. I thought they were just naysayers and debbie downers.

You see, when I was the Hobby Hoarder, I came to feel invincible. I was ziplining through mountains, I was diving out of airplanes, I was swinging around poles, I was tap dancing through studios. I had no fear.

Except the truth is I did.

When thinking back, it’s easy to remember all that fun, terrifying, exhilarating stuff.

But when I was doing the hobby hoarder project, life was much different: sure I was younger and had more energy. But the big — really important parts of my life— were much, much in disarray:

-I was a freelancer–who always worried about what job I was going to find next, and if I lost my current job, would I ever find the next one?

-I was still in the closet, worried what coming out would mean–worried not just about what friends and family might think, but how I would feel–and if I would get to the point of self-love.

-I was single and not in a place to be in a relationship.

-I was battling depression.

-I cared a lot about what people thought of me.

-I hid my most deepest thoughts.

-I struggled with my most deepest thoughts.

When I took on The Hobby Hoarder persona, I transformed into a confident, outgoing, dedicated, determined, human who no one could tear down.

I was my own superhero, battling my internal struggles by becoming more outgoing, more courageous, more energetic, more positive. By taking some of my fears and facing them head on while I avoided the other ones.

I realize now that all the “nay-sayers” and “Debbie Downers” were quite right about two things:

– Life as I’ve gotten older isn’t always easy.
– And it is much different than when I was 24.

But what the tone in their voice got wrong when they told me those two things, was that it would be different and probably much more difficult:

The truth is, that even when I struggle, and even when the days are tough: Life is different. Life is better. 

Even though some days I find myself to be more tired, to be more anxious, and to be just as insecure–I’m constantly reminded that I’m in a much better place now than I could have ever been then. It is in my most raw and vulnerable moments that I have to take a pause to realize this. It is in the moments where I stop feeling invincible–I have to remind myself that I am and can be. It is in our tough moments, where we come out stronger on the other side.

The best part of it all is that now, at 29, I don’t need the cloak of the The Hobby Hoarder.

At 29: 

-I have a full-time job.

-I have hobbies that I turn to as an outlet–not an escape. (Photography and sports)

I’m out of the closet, and couldn’t be more comfortable with that. My family and friends also could not have been more perfect in that struggle.

-I’m in a relationship with someone who I love. Someone who makes each day better than the last. Someone who I might never have met 5 years ago–when my heart wasn’t open or ready.

-I’ve cut all my hair off, and finally enjoy taking the time to look at myself in the mirror and see who I’ve become.

-I still struggle at times, but I’ve learned to admit the struggles. I’ve sought out help and therapy.

-I’m honest and open (sometimes some will argue too honest and too open).

-I ultimately have good intentions.

-I have  morals and values.

-I have more responsibility. I still struggle with stress and doubt and worry. Because of this, I tend to share the little thoughts inside my head–for better or for worse.

-I’ve got the best friends in the world: honest and loving ones who tell me when I’m being a little crazy. When I’m being selfish. Who tell me when I can do better, who offer advice on how to do better.

-And I’ve got people in my life who let me know mistakes are okay, but remind me to move on from them. I have people in my life who remind me that perfection is often in our imperfection. 

When I think about the Hobby Hoarder years, and everything that was possible—everything I was capable of, and then I take the time to see how much has changed since those years—I feel lucky. I didn’t think life could get better than when I was doing all those hobbies. I thought that was life. and I didn’t think life could be better than those moments.

I was wrong. 

And I’m glad I was. 

Life moves. It changes. But it’s always something we should and can continue to conquer, and the world–something we can always strive to be on top of.

And if we are lucky, we’ll reach the top, a little bit wiser as well.

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