Releasing Comparisons & Competition

For the past three (ish) weeks, I’ve been taking Aerial Hoop classes and loving it. I’ve had five so far, and have learned a ton of positions, conditioning exercises and even how to start spinning!

aerial hoop

Sitting in the hoop during my second class

Taking on this new activity has been challenging, both physically and emotionally. A lot of these maneuvers require a core and upper body strength that I don’t have right now. I know that I can get there, but sometimes class can be tough – especially at the end. My hands will burn, biceps and triceps will shake, and my abs will protest.

side climbing an aerial hoop

Hand over hand climbing up the side of the hoop in last night’s session

More challenging though, are the emotions. I’ll start comparing myself to the other women in the classes, and feel low when I’m not as good, or as strong, or as thin. Many of my fellow aerialists are petite and whipcord tough. I’m pretty strong, but I’ve also got about 30lbs and 5″ on most of them.  I’ll forget that they’ve been attending classes for months, or were gymnasts for decades. The comparisons and negative competition in my head will lie to me, reminding me about my belly, or weak arms. A familiar siren song will play: “You’re not one of the be-est. People will se-eee. Might as we-ell stick to what you’re gooood at.” It’s a tune that I’ve listened to in the past. For example, the first time I went skiing, I was 4 and I couldn’t figure it out. I fell over again and again. I got increasingly frustrated (I’m fwustwated Mama!), and upset.  Why couldn’t I do this?? Everyone else could! The answer? I was 4.  It was the first time I was on skis. Everyone falls down, A LOT, the first time on skis. So then, instead of persisting, I refused. I was over that impossible shit. I lost 7 years of fun ski time, as I finally picked it back up at age 11. Nowadays, I LOVE to ski, and I wish I’d stuck with it.

The Don’t Suck Song is a liar. Comparisons and negative competition do no good, and keep us from the thrill of achieving hard fought goals. Feeding my insecurities doesn’t help me to perform better, and definitely doesn’t help form good relationships with my classmates. I’ve got to release my inner comparisons and appreciate what my body can do.  Because my aerial classes will help to tone and strengthen me, but I’m never going to be one of the best, not even in the top 25%. I’ll get to about the middle, and will most likely stick around there. I’m going to be okay with that. For a recovering over achiever, a solid middle of the road performance can be SO freeing. So, goodbye comparisons, and hello appreciation!

reach for the stars pose aerial hoop

Performing the ‘Reach for the Stars’ position last night!

Vacation

Over the 4th of July week, Anthony and I went to San Francisco for a summer vacation. It was exciting, interesting, and overall relaxing. Yet, there were still episodes of stress and anxiety that threw me off guard. I got upset as I navigated our rental car through the hills of Pacific Heights, fretted as we tried to find parking in Chinatown, and fumed as we bought BART tickets. I had a small meltdown on Pier 39 about where to buy our chowder bread bowl (I know). Far worse, on Monday morning I believed that it was Tuesday until about 1pm – my anxiety had lost me a whole day. I was supposed to leave these emotions and reactions behind in Austin! Wasn’t 1700 miles far enough? Why couldn’t I just relax?? I was on vacation dammit! ARGURGHGRH!

But…

…except for the BART tickets, I was able to stop my anxiety spirals fairly quick. Catch myself, breath, feel the SF wind on my face (SO MUCH WIND), and give myself space to respond rationally. Because finding the right roads through a major city that you’ve never been to before? That’s difficult. Ditto parking in a major tourist zone. Pier 39? Mucho overwhelming. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to be instantly great at it. To just take each day, experience, and moment for what it was: something new during our vacation. As I learn how to be more honest and friendly with myself, I recognize my stress, give myself a hug, and imagine the fear evaporating off of me. Because fear was behind my anxieties: fear of looking like a tourist,of not getting to experience ‘everything’, of having to go back to work, of getting lost. But noticing those fears, and hugging and loving the girl having those fears, helped them to float away.

Ultimately, it was a great trip, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take it in and enjoy friends and family!