One of my favorite quotes is from radio personality Alex Blumberg.
On a recent episode of Startup Podcast, he says;
“There is no succeeding without sucking. You’ve got to suck and then learn how you sucked and then resuck so you suck less and that’s the only way to get good at anything.” – Alex Blumberg
While Bloomberg was talking about hosting a podcast, the advice is applicable to so many things….including pole dancing.
When I teach my Foundations level pole dance classes at San Francisco Pole and Dance, I start my classes off with the same pep talk. I tell my students that while they are each beautiful, unique, talented, and wonderful human beings, the fact of the matter is that they are going to go out there on the dance floor and they are going to try something that they likely aren’t very good at.
They are going to try climbing and very quickly realize that OMG, it hurts! because the pole tugs at the skin.
They are going to walk around the pole and most likely feel like they are learning to walk again for the very first time because they are learning to walk in a very different way than normal.
I tell them that there may be glimmers of hope – nailing a spin, getting the hair toss to land just right, feeling a wiggle in the booty while we cover twerking fundamentals, but that for the most part, a first pole dance class is going to feel hard, and sometimes confusing, and counterintuitive, and that most of the things that the instructor makes look easy will end up being technically difficult because they’ve never done this before.
I tell them:
“We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to have fun and most likely, we will be terrible….gloriously terrible.
And that’s ok.”
Most people smile, once my students even clapped. Usually, my classes are filled with levity because we took the time to take our expectations off our shoulders.
More wisdom along these lines from another radio guru, Ira glass:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Of course, being terrible at something you’ve never done before is totally normal, but we’re humans and sometimes we’re illogical and we expect greatness from our first tries at things. Let’s try to not do that. Each time you come back to practicing anything, pole dancing included, you’ll be a little better and then a little better and a little better.
The students who embrace their terrible, and are able to laugh easily at themselves, to put down the pressure for perfection, seem to me to be the ones who enjoy themselves the most.
Let’s take our time on this journey, enjoy the process, and start one gloriously terrible step at a time.