This “little” anecdote starts sometime in 2016 when I used to ride transit to work. Back then, en route to and from work on the bus I saw that a new ballet studio was gearing up to open for the first time. It had somewhat of a unique slogan that combined ballet with fitness and that combination sounded really appealing to me.

Some Background

All my life I had been attracted to ballet and specifically to ballerinas. In my mind they represent the epitome of feminine grace and elegance. Ballet was one of those interests that just because of how I grew up it didn’t even make sense to spend any time learning about or even watching more than the seldom presentation on TV. I was interested, but not enough to do anything about it. I could say I was vaguely curious about it.  On the other hand one of my nieces had been dancing ballet from an early age, pretty much all her life and in the back of my head I had a bit of envy that she could do it but not me.  When I saw that this new ballet studio was going to open I told my niece that we should go try it when she’d come visit. Another important thing to note was when I learnt about this place and told my niece, I was still not full time. It’s somewhat blurry, but I believe I had already started my process and was just into my first few months when I told my niece about this place.

In short, I had always been attracted to ballet though I had never done absolutely anything about it, I saw that this new place was going to open that had some sort of mix of ballet and fitness, and I was at the starting stages of my process. For more than a year after that I still didn’t do anything though my curiosity had grown. Not only that, but also after starting my process and breaking down my own barriers I felt more at ease getting out of my comfort zone and exploring things I had always wanted to explore. Ballet was one of those things.

Fast forward to the last quarter of 2016 when I had my FFS, then January of 2017 when I had my hair transplant (HT) and had switched from working at the office to teleworking from home. In late April of 2017, after recovering from FFS and the HT I restarted cycling in the afternoons with the idea of returning to do some physical activity and getting out of the house as a break from being inside all day due to working from home.

Now or Never

One of those evenings out on my bike I decided to ride in front of the ballet studio to get an idea of what it was.  I wanted to go in and enquire but I was terrified. That evening I slowly rode my bike right in front of the studio. There was a class going on and I saw someone at the front desk. At that moment I didn’t stop.  I kept riding for a few more metres where I could not see the inside of the studio anymore and no one inside could see me. I stopped. Standing out on the sidewalk with my bike my first thought was “I’ll come back tomorrow or the day after”. Almost at the same time as I was saying that inside my head the next thought rushed in: “if I don’t do it now, I won’t ever do it!” I was between going in and asking for information or to going home and see if some other day I would have more courage to try again. That was the question. Go in and enquire or go home. Again I thought that if I didn’t go in and ask how the studio worked I would not do it later.

My bike
A reflection of me standing next to my bike, circa August 2017, just a few months after I restarted cycling again.

I was terrified. I was on my bike, in my cycling shorts and yellow jacket, my hair tied at the back, the HT still growing, all sweaty from the bike… I felt I looked too much like a dude and that made me fairly uncomfortable to go in and ask at a ballet studio. My head was spinning. Go in or go home, go in or go home…

If I don’t do it now, I won’t ever do it!

My heart was pumping and my hands were starting to sweat. That question alone inferred the answer. If I always wanted to do this and I had the chance just a few metres away, why would I not go in. Going home at that moment would have made the mountain even higher to climb if I were to try enquiring at a later date. If I didn’t go through the door of the studio that evening I probably would never know what would it be like to learn ballet and do exercise in a mostly women environment.

That evening that I rode in front of the studio I not only wanted to learn ballet.  I wanted to immerse myself  in a mostly feminine atmosphere, I wanted to learn grace and the bonus was to do exercise.

I Have to Go In

The decision, the back and forth in my head, as stormy and polarized as it was for me, it was also quick. The time that I was outside of the studio debating in my head was probably less than 2 or 3 minutes. As hard as those 2 or 3 minutes were the next step proved to be much harder.

The front door of the ballet studio.

I gathered courage from I have no idea where and I went through the door of the studio. Opposite to other firsts that I had been in control, this time I did not feel in charge of the situation at all.  I felt that I was winging it by the seat of my pants. But I was already inside and I wanted to do this!

There were two girls at the desk and up front I told them I was terrified of being there because I had never done something like that before. Neither of them seemed to be taken by my appearance or me being so nervous. On the contrary, they both made me feel welcomed and tried to explain to me the kinds of classes they offered and how the studio worked. I did mention a couple more times how terrified I was of being there and how new all this was. One of the girls kept replying to my insecure comments “you’re so cute, you’re going to be fine”.

All that was on a Monday evening and by the end they had set me up for a first class the following Thursday. When I left the studio I felt amazing since I had been able to drop my fears, decided to go in to enquire and setup my first class. I was excited for the opportunity I had opened for myself!

In Retrospect

Going in through the front door of the studio was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life, and to this day it stands somewhere at the top tier of my hardest things ever.  After two years and 4 months from that day in early May 2017 I now know that apart from being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it was also one of the most life changing things too. I did it! I got the things I wanted; to be in a mostly girls’ environment, learn some more grace and do a fair amount of physical exercise.  From all those 3 somewhat different objectives, being in a predominantly female setting has been by far the most positive and impactful thing for me.

If going through the door of the studio for the first time was a growing experience outside of my comfort zone, that new environment has given me so many more opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and try experiences that boggle my mind. I’m still learning and growing from being in that environment.

Now, more than two years later, looking at my notes from those days in 2017 I get conflicting emotions.  On one side it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and I acknowledge and remember the apprehension, but on the other side, like many other firsts, my apprehension was larger that it needed to be.  Even as I now know that it didn’t need to be that hard, there was no other way around it. It was something I had never done and that day I was not feeling in control of the situation. One of the great outcomes from this experience is that I’ve learnt to somewhat diminish my worries when getting out of my comfort zone. Yet another outcome is that it has given me the opportunity, many times, to get out of my comfort zone and explore new crazy experiences that just 5 year ago would have been pipe dreams.

I am extremely proud and glad I went through the studio door that evening and I booked what would be my first of hundreds of classes.

3 thoughts on “Starting Dance: One of the Hardest Things Ever

  1. Ballet, learning ballet as a novice is an excellent way to keep fit, flexible, and pointe aid in wearing high heels, really high heels. I have thought of ballet for stretching, it’s better than yoga.

    1. J., ballet and yoga have a lot in common, like being in the moment and mindful. One thing I feel ballet has given me over yoga is the opportunity to see and learn to be a little more graceful. Every class I take I find myself mesmerized by the effect little tiny moves and gestures have on grace. That on top of the physical benefits of moving my body.

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