This past weekend was Freida’s ballet recital. As I was dropping her off at my dad’s house just a few days before it, Freida was telling him all about her costumes and dances. My dad looked at me surprised because I hadn’t invited him to it – I hadn’t even mentioned it. I gave him a little “we’ll talk about this later” look. The truth was I wasn’t telling anyone about the recital because I didn’t think Freida would actually dance in it.
Each year Freida’s dance studio invites parents to come in and watch a short performance during class. This year it was a Halloween dance to the Monster Mash. The music turned on, Freida whipped around in her little costume, and immediately burst into tears and ran straight into my arms. We spent the next 10 minutes with her crying into my chest, the other kids dancing with huge smiles, and moms giving me sympathetic looks. When we got in the car, I asked Freida what happened. “I turned around, saw all these people staring at me and got really really scared,” she said. Freida then begged me to let her quit ballet and promise that I would never make her dance in front of people again.
For the next few weeks, Freida whined every time we went to ballet and asked me again and again if she could quit. But by the end of each class, she would come out smiling and laughing. Soon she stopped talking about wanting to quit and instead started asking excitedly if it was “ballet day” yet.
So why did I not think Freida would dance at her recital? Because when Freida ran crying into my arms during the Monster Mash, all I could think was Freida is me. I had really bad anxiety as a child. So bad (and I cannot believe that I am about to share this in writing) that there was a chart in my Kindergarten class where every day I didn’t throw up, I would get a sticker. As I grew up, I didn’t need a throw-up chart anymore but the anxiety was always there and still is many days. So when I saw Freida scared in front of people, I didn’t see Freida – I just saw me.
Freida not only danced in her recital, but she has never looked happier. My lesson: Freida is not me, and equally as clear is that Freida on Sunday, May 19 is not the same Freida from Wednesday, October 31.
And here’s the lesson for all of us yogis. I hear statements like this all the time: “I’ve never been athletic or flexible. I tried Restorative Yoga before and thought I was going to crawl out of my skin. I just don’t do the heat. Walking into a yoga studio is scary.” But here’s the thing – maybe these stories you’ve thought or said about yourself just aren’t true. Maybe other people told you they were true or maybe they were once true and you’ve changed since then. Either way, now is the perfect opportunity to try again. Because take it from Freida – just because it was scary before doesn’t mean it will always be that way.