Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Golf, DQ, and risk-taking

I got roped into it the same way anyone gets roped into anything: beer and peer pressure. It sounded like a good idea over drinks with friends from work--sure, I'll golf! that sounds awesome!--but as I stood there in front of God and everyone (and by everyone, I mean everyone I work with) almost shaking as I waited for my turn to tee off (is that even what you say? Do you see the depths of my discomfort here???) I just prayed that I'd hit the ball straight and more than ten feet away from myself. I prayed I wouldn't fall down. True story. I had the sting of about 20 eyes on me. I could feel them judging, scrutinizing, waiting for something to laugh at. Of course, why should I be good at golf? And why would they care? These were my peers, so they didn't really have any reason to expect I would be good at golfing. Like, zero.

So why was I almost sick to my stomach about it?

Scared.  To.  Death.
It got better as we got away from the group and as the beer wagon came around, but every time I was up, I felt like I should just crawl into a hole and die. Seriously. I had patient and helpful friends with me, one of whom is an awesome PE teacher and coach, and I still felt like a total dork. My arms and legs didn't belong to me anymore--they seemed to move independently of my brain. I suddenly forgot how to stand and how to walk and how to shift my weight. For the love of Pete, I'd been a dancer my entire life. What was happening?

Stepping outside of my comfort zone is scary. My brief brush with the golf world reminded me that learning something new can completely knock you down on your butt and steal your confidence. It didn't matter that I knew I was a capable, rational human being, or even that I knew how to apply grace and strength when it mattered on stage. In front of all of those coworkers, I felt like a three year old holding her dad's golf club. Or maybe even that same three year old getting caught doing something wrong. I almost felt ashamed. Trying something new means finding your feet all over again. It means building an entirely new foundation of confidence from nothing.

Dancing Queens, 2008 (That's me in the blue and white fringe! LOLs)
I see this kind of risk-taking almost every day at work, lately. The staff GQ event I've been choreographing and teaching for is about to happen next week, and we're in crunch time for rehearsals. I have almost 30 non-dancer female teachers (The "Dancing Queens") who have learned two four-minute dance routines and they're going to perform them next week. I'm in awe of these ladies. Almost none of them have any kind of dance experience, and I know they're finding their legs and arms just as unruly as I was on the golf course. I'm really asking them to do a lot. I know they feel the same desire to be good at something that is entirely new to them. I know some of them feel bad when it takes them a while to learn something. They shouldn't, but it's part of the deal when you're taking a risk. But they push through the difficult moves with laughter and enthusiasm. They're truly inspiring to me. It doesn't matter what it is that they're trying, the point is that it's miles from their comfort zones and they're going to get up in front of hundreds of their peers and students to do it.


It's nice to have something positive at work. Ordinarily teachers are so disconnected from each other, and for the last three or so years, it's been an ever increasing barrage of bad news. By sharing this challenge and meeting it with such a spirit of lighthearted camaraderie, these ladies really make me smile.

I feel lucky to be working with them today.

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