Oh, holidays. Admittedly, the holiday season is always tough for me. I lost my mom when I was fifteen and since then holidays haven’t felt a whole lot like, well, something to celebrate. Every year I end up someplace different, adopted by well-meaning families and I spend a lot of time answering the question, “why are you here? Where’s your family?” Hahah. They’re always so sorry they asked. And for me these events are a ton of emotional work, putting on a nice face, learning the ins and outs of yet another set of family traditions on the fly, not getting sucked into a sink hole of depression somewhere in between dinner and desert.
But this year was different. This year was like magic because I spent Thanksgiving dancing. If there is anything that I’m grateful for today it’s the fact that I can dance and that I have my pole community to dance with. I’ve been making art since I can remember, but -no joke- pole dance is hands down the most transformative thing that I’ve ever done. Here’s some of what I am grateful for that pole has given me:
1. Confidence like none other. A lot of pole dancers have talked or written about this, but is ten thousand percent true. Very shortly after I started pole this summer I found that I walked down the street differently. I wasn’t intimidated by situations that I used to find intimidating. I could stand up for myself. My anxiety shriveled up. I’m not sure if this is just a byproduct of practicing sexy movement that looks good on anybody (and I do mean any body) or if it has to do with knowing that you can scale a 14 foot pole with no issues, but whatever it is, I’ll take it.
2. This is related to confidence, but I like to call this the I DGAF Effect. The longer I do pole, the more I do not give a fuck. I don’t care about petty things. I don’t worry about getting embarrassed by anything. I don’t waste my time on poisonous people. I call people out more. Simply, I DGAF. And it’s awesome.
3. I think that the reason that the I DGAF Effect exists is because of the increased body comfort and strength that pole offers. Like so many other people, I have had serious issues with body image for years. My father has insisted for years that I am weak. No matter what I did, no matter how active I was, no matter how many first place trophies. Nothing has ever changed his mind. And for a long time nothing could change mine. But a six pack and the fact that most of my pants don’t fit anymore because my butt is so muscular- that was enough to change my mind. And on top of all the muscle there’s all the sexy dance shit I’ve learned. Weak? You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.
4. Along with all the super lovely internal and personal effects of pole, I have been lucky enough to find one of the most supportive learning environments in which to do all this crazy, wonderful stuff. The community that Holly Bordeaux had created at Pole Fitness Seattle is truly remarkable. I am so thankful that the space in the pole studio is one of shared joy and support. I don’t think I would be having anywhere near the same experience if the studio I was at had a competitive environment. I love the fact that we can celebrate each other’s breakthroughs and victories and support each other when things are awkward or tough.
5. This community and the studio space is a sanctuary. I go to the studio when I’m sad, when I’m angry, when I’m stressed, when I’m happy, when I’m bored. It’s like church, but for your whole body, mind, and spirit. Often if I’m having a tough day at work, I spend the entire day thinking, “just get to the studio. Things will be better.” And you know what? They always get better once I’ve gone to class.
6. Pole dance has convinced me that I can conquer anything. We spend so much time limiting ourselves and defining our lives by what we can’t do and the narrowest sliver of what we are “experts” at. Learning pole dance has really made me call bullshit on that whole way of existing. You may not be able to do something. Yet. I have learned to do things that I would have been totally terrified of two years ago and I want more. Currently, I’m working on getting my splits back after busting my knee when I was 20. After that’s done, I’m going to fix my handstand if it kills me (it won’t). Pole dance has taught me that people are capable of some amazing stuff and we are definitely capable of more than we think we are.
So. Thanksgiving. I spent this morning dancing and rehearsing at the studio. I was surrounded by friends, poles, and good music. No awkward questions, no weird traditions. Just celebration. After class I came home, took an Epsom salt bath, and then a two hour nap (yes, you are jealous) and then made some delicious food for dinner, and wrote this post. And today has been PERFECT.
One thing that Holly says a lot that I really like is “girl, you do you.” This applies to celebrations and holidays just like it does everything else. So I hope you did you today and that you did what you love with people you love and are grateful for.
That’s all I got.