Today, I went to tap class and at the end of it I felt like a total idiot and I wanted to cry. There was a simple step I just couldn’t do. The teacher even stopped class and slowed the step down to a beginner pace. I just couldn’t get it. And I should know better. It’s an easy step. A freaking Waltz Clog with an extra shuffle! Ugh. And my normal shiny, bright, Pollyanna self just can’t get over the berating. So…here we are.
After walking a few saddened blocks post-class, I stopped in Starbucks to get myself a treat to cheer up–it’s a simple dance step. I’m in line thinking: I know I’ll get it. I know my learning curve with dance and I know it takes me longer than some. But the straight “A” student in me ALWAYS gets frustrated when I can’t do something–let alone something that I used to be able to do or that I’ve already struggled with and overcome.
But life isn’t like that. Once you get over a hurdle, if you forget about it or let it lapse, that hurdle will come back around and trip you. You’ll trip hard. On your face. In the mud. In front of important people–it never fails.
So my lovely teacher, has now stopped class so I can pick up the step–that isn’t hard, it’s just a challenge. And somehow after picking up so many steps and changes, my feet are just done and don’t want to participate. And I’m upset by this.
Ugh. These crippling adult thoughts. “I should be able to do better because I have done this before.” “I’m smarter and more talented than this.” “I’ve been doing harder things than this, why is this difficult.”
Well–from the outside you look in and say: Clare, it’s ok. Just practice. Your body is out of shape. This was your 4th tap class in 7 years. Life will go on. No one is mad at you or thinks less of you for this moment.
But I’m still down.
And I’m at Starbucks. And as the Universe would have it, I’m not the only one struggling today. A blind lady walks in before me. She’s not too much older than me, but she keeps bumping into things. And there is confusion for her as to where the line is and if the barista taking orders is really talking to her. She finally places her order and heads over to the pickup bar. I order and make the move to the pickup bar as well. The barista behind the machine is struggling, too. He is on an island of espresso–making all the drinks on his own, and it seems like his first time alone making the orders. And in the mass produced individuality that is Starbucks, it’s not an easy task. Or it is easy after you find the rhythm, or the steps.
My lovely new blind friend’s order is finished and she cannot see the cup, so I gently guide her hand to it. And the barista gets some help too, getting another barista to help him fill orders. My drink came. I grabbed it and was on my way.All three of us, the blind woman, the barista, and me are just having a moment. Struggling through. But when shown other people’s hurdles, I realized my hurdle today comes in many forms and visits often.
1. Believe in yourself. Know that you are smart enough, good enough, strong enough to get it/figure it out/live through it easier next time.
2. Forgive yourself. If you lose the skill, it is a new combination of skills, in a new place, or new speed–it won’t be perfect.
3. Practice. Even if you were perfect once, unless you keep up the practice, you’ll lose the skill.
4. Ask for help. I have moments where I’m better and worse at this. There are people who are more experienced, who can see, who can help. Let them. It’s ok to take a couple extra minutes now so you don’t keep struggling later.
5. Don’t be upset at help. Most of the time the people assisting you are doing it to help YOU. So, try not to snap at them in the moment. And make sure to say thank you at the end–a thank you goes a long way.
The struggle IS real. But it’s also something that you can overcome. The barista is probably making coffee faster after it becoming more mechanical, the blind woman can probably navigate the same Starbucks store a little easier now that she knows the layout, and I can do the step now that I’ve stopped thinking about it.
Remember, hurdles are just hurdles. You run at it with all you can and jump. Sometimes you get over it and sometimes you have to practice, ask for help, give yourself time to adjust. You’ll get there. I believe in you.
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