I’ve seen a lot of people walk into their first few aerial lessons and knock that shit out of the park. Maybe that was you? Possibly a former gymnast, you’re strong, you’re graceful, you can invert on the first try no cheat, no problem. Effing wonderful. You’ve got a killer head start.
But a month or two in, something happens. We’re not doing just the basics anymore. We’ve diverted from the things you were so comfortable with (that’s what happens when you’re progressing). The people you were effortlessly showing up week after week are now catching onto moves before you are. No more one and done tricks, you’re having to work. And think. And sweat a little.
And by the end of class, you still might not have figured out what we’re doing (hint: that’s expected!). And you’re pissed. Where before you were so eager to do whatever your teacher threw at you, now you’re refusing to try and begging to do that move you mastered two weeks ago while your instructor is explaining something new.
You stop progressing. Do you know why?
It’s because you’re afraid to look stupid.
Looking stupid is important to progress.
Get comfortable with it. Embrace it, even. Because if you want to get better, sometimes you’re going to look really stupid.
And that’s okay. Really. I promise. Who exactly are you trying to impress in class? You aren’t on stage right now. If you are learning new things, those things are going to be awkward and sometimes awful at first. The only way to get better is to start at awful.
If you refuse to look goofy, you are holding yourself back. Not just a little bit. It will compound. You refuse to try moves that made you feel awkward the first time through, so you never improve them. They don’t get added to your aerial arsenal. You don’t learn new ways to move through things, new positions, new transitions. Having a wide range is important, especially as you start creating your own routines. Do you really want to leave all that on the table?
That’s me, losing all grace as I nearly fall out of the air.
And I hate to burst your cool looking bubble (that’s not true, I’ll happily burst this one), but you look like an idiot trying to play it cool all the time.
You aren’t fooling anyone. Instead of coming across as an aerial savant, you really seem like the person who doesn’t want to try. And that’s really lame.
I teach a way to go from standing to seated on the trapeze that can be scary at first, so I have people start by doing somersaults on the floor to simulate the motion. And sometimes I have students all but refuse to do it. They came here to learn to be prima aerialists gracefully gliding through the air, not to look like toddlers rolling on the ground.
The people who somersault with me? They get that move a lot faster than the student sneering in the corner. And they have a lot more fun in class. And, well, this may be reaching a little bit, but I’m going to assume they have a lot more fun in life, too.
So get over yourself, my little spider monkey. And embrace your own awkwardness. It’s okay to look a little stupid.