This is my first blog post in a very long time and those of you following me on my Facebook page already know why: I spent the last few months turning my dream of owning a pole and fitness studio into reality. The Live It Up Pole Fitness Studio held its first official class on July 2nd. It has been an exciting ride getting the studio ready. But as with everything exciting, there’s also an element of fear and risk. After all, starting your own business completely overhauls your life. You pour your heart and soul (and a shit-tonne of money) into the endeavour, sacrifice all your free time and your previous career with no guarantee of success. You have to wade through a sea of doubt and uncertainty. I have been thinking a lot about how we react to fear lately. I don’t mean the reaction to the gross spider that fell on your purse just as you were reaching for it, or the jolt you felt as a kid walking through a haunted house. I mean the fear of the unknown, the fear of humiliation, the fear of failure, and yes, even the fear of success.
From the time we were school aged children, we have been programmed to avoid failure. We are never rewarded for trying and failing, only for trying and succeeding. To fail is taboo. It is associated with a host of negative feeling: guilt, disappointment, anger, frustration and most of all, shame. What will people think? The fear of failure freezes us. We procrastinate. We make excuses. We sabotage ourselves through inactivity.
Ironically the fear of failure often beds down with the fear of success, after all, the road to success often requires a certain degree of risk, and what is risk but a breeding ground for failure? And what if we do succeed? Think of all the new responsibilities that being successful will bring! What if our successes make us appear arrogant? What if they are right and success has made us into arrogant pricks and we just don’t know it? It takes a lot of work to succeed, is it even worth it? What if I work really hard, sacrifice all my free time, and finally succeed…only to realise that it wasn’t what I really wanted? What if I succeed and find myself without a purpose now that my goal has been achieved?
As social animals, we put a lot of weight on how others perceive us. Unfortunately a lot of this anxiety is rooted in reality. There are a lot of judgemental people, some of them being our very own friends and family. Some are threatened by our success. Others may not approve of what we do or how we do it. Some may pass judgement on us because they are afraid that other people will pass judgement on them for what you do. (Convoluted, I know. But think of the parent/kid/aunt/uncle who gets upset that you post your pole videos on YouTube because someone they know might see.)
Life requires a lot of courage and while it’s easy to let doubt and anxiety keep us stationary, it is easier still and more common to let adequacy and comfort stop us from progressing. Many people settle for satisfactory in an attempt to avoid risks.
I often claim that finding pole fitness really changed my life. One of the big changes involve the management of fear to drive self-improvement. I learned that fear is not a negative thing. I now recognize fear as a precursor to success. If something illicit absolutely no fear response, then obviously it is not important enough for me to pursue.
Pole dancing has taught me how to fail successfully. How many times did you have to try turning into a superman before you succeeded? Every failed attempt was a step forward, making it an integral part of the final success, despite being in itself a failure… sometimes even the fall on your face in front of everyone in the studio while being filmed variety of failure. We learn early in our foray into this addictive hobby that if we are to progress, we must dust ourselves off, grit our teeth and try again, and again, and again. We learn to view every botched attempt as a small step forward. Now when I sense the fear of failure, I recognize it to mean that I’m embarking on a worthwhile journey, something I really care about.
When I do succeed, I now do so gracefully. I used to be afraid to celebrate my successes, afraid it would be misconstrued as bragging. Now I realise that successes are rarely a one man (or woman) show. They happen within a community. The last time you nailed a new move what did you? Did you hide your success? Chances are you told your pole buddies, or posted your success online, or shared your triumph on a forum, or got cheers from the other students in your class. And you know what? I bet they were truly happy for you. Not only do other people help us celebrate our successes, they are often instrumental in our achieving them. Without all the support from my family, my boyfriend and all the amazing people in the pole dacning community, I would probably have thrown in the towel after being turned down by multiple landlords because they “didn’t want that type of establishment” in their complex. And finally, even if the final destination isn’t as great as it is cut out to be, the journey there often makes us stronger and we learn much on the way. Time is only wasted if you do nothing.
On the flip side, there are times when your deepest fears are realized and you must find the courage to fight through. There are multiple instances where pole dancers were forced to choose between their jobs and their hobby. Many family members and/or friend may not approve of what we do. Sometimes, it is someone in the pole community that fulfills our deepest fears, such as overhearing snide remarks made on body shape and size. And while most individuals in the pole community are genuinely compassionate, there are those who love drama and are quick to criticize, lay blame and air their dirty laundry publicly. What about deciding to perform on stage for the first time? Or posting your first YouTube video? What will people think? What about negative or inappropriate comments? And of course, pole fitness has inherent physical risks as well. We learn to weigh risks logically, decide whether the consequences in our heads match reality and make plans to reduce negative outcomes should we decide to take the risk.
I can’t say whether choosing pole fitness as a hobby create a more constructive reaction to fear, or rather people who react more constructively to risk and fears tend to choose activities such as pole fitness as a hobby. I can say with certainty that being able to accept, come to terms and cope with fear has really helped me in my quest to take charge in all aspects of my life. Now that I have learned how to fail successfully, judge each risk rationally and recognize fear as a signal that what I am pursuing is important, I am much better equipped to handle life hurdles.
“Being terrified but going ahead and doing what must be done—that’s courage. The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward.” ― Piers Anthony.
I would love to hear about your experience dealing with the fear of failure. Has taking up pole fitness helped you overcome any irrational anxieties? Please share your stories and comments below. Now that I’m starting to have a bit of a routine again, I’ll have more time post more ramblings and tutorials, so you’ll be seeing more of me soon!
Until next time, be sure to Live It Up!