If you’ve never taken an aerials class, I highly recommend it. Not because it’s fun (although it can be) and not because it’s easy (it’s absolutely not), but because it requires a certain mindset. You’re probably thinking, “But aerials is so physical! What crappy metaphor is this lady pushing?” Just hear me out, and I promise, NO METAPHORS!
My introduction to aerials started in 2013 when I met a woman who ran an aerials and Pilates studio. She was offering a summer camp for kids, and my little ones were perfect candidates. At the end of the camp, my daughter was hooked. She’d found her jam! And I was excited that she’d discovered a hobby that combined movement and was a performance art.
We began attending shows in our area, and every time, I was entranced. The aerialists moved so effortlessly, bending and contorting, doing drops, and spinning through the air. I was simultaneously excited for my daughter, but also jealous. I wanted to do aerials! I wanted to choreograph a routine, I wanted to experience the rush that I was certain those aerialists felt when they were flying. I needed aerials in my life!
Eventually, I convinced myself I could do it. In 2016 I started with a few private lessons, splitting the hour with my daughter, but had to quit when I became pregnant. Fast forward to 2017, after a miscarriage then the birth of my third child (a medically necessary C-section), and I was back at it.
This time I enrolled in an introductory class that promised to be for beginners. Ha! Hahahahahahaha!!! It was awful. It was the absolute worst. Most of my peers appeared to be either cross-fit fanatics or warlocks who had enchanted the equipment to do their bidding. They hopped onto the hoop with no apparent effort. They climbed with silks without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I was flailing. All of the confidence I has mustered from my earlier achievements dissipated into thin air.
After two classes, I quit the series, but not before nearly breaking down crying during my last session. I felt ashamed, and I felt it viscerally. Logically, I knew that the only barrier between me and an aerials career was a lot of hard work and probably some serious strength training, but what kept me from staying in that class had little to do with my physical limitations.
My head told me I was a fraud, that I couldn’t do it, and I listened. I listened to all the reasons why I should quit. “Shouldn’t you spend more time on your freelance business?” “You can’t afford these classes anyway.” “You have a gym membership you never use – what are you doing here?” I felt like someone had punched me in the gut, only it was me and I’d done it with a few synaptic fires from my brain.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I decided to hop back on some equipment during open gym with my daughter. It took a few attempts, but I was able to engage some muscle memory (and some actual muscles made stronger thanks to some dedicated training) and made a few advances up the silks. Three to be exact. And with each advance, I ignored the voice in my head telling me I would fail, and instead pushed through the doubt and climbed towards victory! Ok, it was really NBD, but to me it sparked a revelation.
Anything I do can be sabotaged by, well…me. When I sit down to write an article or work on a chapter of my book, I can either let the flow take over me, knowing that I have the ability to make progress, or I can let impostor syndrome kick into high gear and knock me down a few pegs. It’s really that simple.
I’m a damn good writer, if I do say so myself, and I could probably be an equally skilled aerialist. Like aerials, writing is about engaging muscle memory, taking each moment at face value and fully engaging, not worrying about the next and the next and the next. Because the words do come, like each part of a choreographed aerials performance. And the process is really where the excitement happens anyway.
(P.S. I lied – this whole thing has been a metaphor #sorrynotsorry)
Until next time…