If it doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong

Turning Points.

Sometimes it’s hard to know that they’re happening until you’ve already set off in a different direction. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Now, as anyone who even remotely knows me will attest to, I have never dealt well with failure.

When I was about ten*, I did Ballet. I’ve danced for as long as I can remember, and by and large, I’ve enjoyed it. I do, however, remember the point in Ballet classes when I realised that had changed. I can’t remember what we were doing, but we’d done it over and over and over again trying to get it right, and my legs were burning. Despite that, I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Again and again I was corrected, but watching myself in the mirror, I could see that nothing had changed. It reflected not just my failure to learn, but worse, my reaction. I wasn’t crying (yet) but my frustration was definitely threatening to tears.

“It hurts,” was all I could say in response to my teacher’s questions, unwilling to admit how much I hated failing, and what felt like all the effort I could muster wasn’t enough.

Her response?

“If it doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong.”

Obviously this did not help. It seemed massively unfair – I was doing it wrong and it still hurt. I felt like I should have been spared at least one of the two evils. If I’d known more than one swear word at the time, I probably would have told her where to stuff it.

Instead, I quit about a month later, to pretty much nobody’s surprise.

I’ll leave the next ten years (ish) open to your imagination. I continued to dance for most of it. There were a couple of years’ break between giving up Tap and Jazz and starting Baton Twirling, and then giving up that and starting Latin and Ballroom, and then, this February, Pole Dancing.

It’s a little bit different from ballet. Well, perhaps it’s not as different as you might expect. There’s a lot of emphasis on core strength, and lots of pointing your toes and holding slightly awkward positions that look a lot better than they feel, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

I’m only two weeks into my Level 2 course, and the difficulty has increased significantly. I’m still enjoying it though, even with fresh weekly bruises and aching arms.

Then this week, I noticed something.

We’ve been learning a move called a layout, which involves using the drag of your thigh to hold on to the pole, and twisting your hips towards the pole. It hurts. Like, to the point where when I tried it the first time, I actually fell off the pole (mostly from surprise rather than pain, but it was surprise at the pain, so it had a role). To my evidently unamused expression, out teacher offered those fateful words;

“If it doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong.”

To which my response was to try about twenty more times until I finally, finally, managed to hold a halfway decent layout with a smile instead of a wince. It didn’t look too bad in the mirror either, come to that.

Hell yeah.

I walked home with a spring in my step, aching and tired, but pleased with the class’ progress. Only later, trying to stretch my protesting muscles into a split training position did I realise I had another reason to be proud of myself: I didn’t give up. I hadn’t let frustration get to me, I’d pushed through it and worked with it, and ultimately, succeeded.

You know what that is?

Character development.

A layout in a pink sparkly hat! Edit: Fae Clements


*my concept of time is shocking, so give or take three years on either side.

Main image credit: The Pole Gym, Brisbane. Edit: Fae Clements.


One thought on “If it doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong

  1. Corina Moldovan

    This is your pathway to a strong character! Being determined allows you to do whatever you want, enjoying while still feeling the pain! Carry on!!


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