Confession time. I was invited to an event last weekend and I came *thisclose* to bailing and just staying home.
It was the 10th anniversary celebration of the pole fitness studio that was my second home for a few years, until I was injured and couldn’t participate in the activities I loved anymore. It was a place where I bled and bruised, where I lost myself, only to discover more of who I really am, a place where I laughed myself silly and ugly cried my heart out. A place where I met people that I connected with on a deeper, heart level, people who pushed me and believed in me and supported me to live out my dreams.
So why wouldn’t I want to go? Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, exactly, more that I felt isolated and far away from these women and this place that had been such a big, important part of my journey. I haven’t been there much lately, and as expected, life marches on whether or not you are there to take part in the parade. When I once felt safe and comfortable in between those walls, I now felt a bit awkward and distanced. There were so many names and faces I didn’t recognize and who didn’t know me from the next girl. Gone were the days when I felt like a part of the group. Of course this is to be expected, given the circumstances, and I knew that how I felt wasn’t necessarily the reality of who things actually would be, but it was hard.
I find myself, at times, with this deep need to feel like I belong. I know it is silly, and most of the time I don’t really care, but every so often the clock spins backwards and I am that 10 year old girl standing way far out on the outside, the one with 2 friends in an entire school because some mean girls decided that my mere existence was offensive and made it their personal mission to destroy every shred of confidence and worth that I had. I was scared that if I went, I would once again be relegated to being the girl on the outside and I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough that day to take it.
It’s a funny thing, this desire to be loved or belong. Logically, I knew that a number of my good friends were going, but in the time that I’ve been away, relationships with others have deepened, understandably of course, and that voice in my head reminded me that I was just going to be a third (or fourth or fifth) wheel. Those voices, they can be pretty ugly sometimes. The voices also neglected to remind me that I have also deepened relationships with people, just in different ways.
The thing is, I’m quite sure that I was not the only person feeling this way. I confided my feelings in a dear friend, and she totally got what I was saying. Not that she agreed, but she understood. Lives go on, people move away and continue on their own paths. We all have our struggles, it’s just that some choose to let the fearful voices in their head win and consequently miss out on things. I don’t want to do that.
When I arrived, I walked into the room, not recognizing anyone. Instantly, I wondered if I had made the right decision. No one threw stones or hissed “fraud” in my ear, but strangely, somehow, I still felt like a bit of an impostor. I continued on, knowing that there would be people, my people, there somewhere. When I found them, no one greeted me like I shouldn’t be there, in fact, some of them had been looking for me for ages. I was offered a seat at a couple of tables and immediately, the hugs began. I wondered what I had felt so nervous about.
That is the thing about life. It is ever changing, ever moving, with a constant ebb and flow. The people I felt close to that night were the ones who have made an effort to continue to foster our friendship outside of the studio. It’s natural for people to be out of sight and out of mind, and I get that, I really do. When it really comes down to it, some of these people have seen my broken insides and have helped me piece them back together, better, stronger. I can say with a ton of certainty that had it not been for my time there, sharing, learning and growing, I would never have been able to write and share a post that included a change room selfie of me in a bikini that went viral last summer. That was scary. But I was gifted with the time and space to be able to come to some big and powerful conclusions about myself in that place, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I know now that there will always be someone holding space for me there if I need it, and it doesn’t matter if I am part of the “cool kids” or not, because really, we are all cool kids to someone, in our own way.
That night, I had a couple of big, scary conversations with people about my upcoming surgery, and was reminded of some interesting and challenging lessons that I’m working on right now. Lessons on stillness, and patience, and giving others an opportunity to help. I was reminded that my challenges, as big as they may seem right now, do not make me any less loveable, and that it feels damn good sometimes to just be a goofball and dance with your friend. We all need places and people that are a safe place to land, and I know that as long as my goddesses are there, I have a few. These women amaze me with their power and strength and wisdom, with their desire to move past small talk and straight into the heart of a person. It is awesome and cool and terrifying at the same time.
I’m glad that I didn’t let my lack of confidence win this time. That doesn’t mean that it won’t on another day, but being around my people reminded me, and hopefully everyone else in that room too that sometimes when you allow yourself to move beyond, you will be much happier.