This summer I started taking ballet classes. Call it an early midlife crisis if you'd like, I've just always wanted to dance and while I had the extra time this summer I figured why not. I loved every one of those classes, I may not have been able to walk most days this summer, but ballet was oh so much fun and totally worth the pain. Fast forward to August when my teacher told us she wouldn't be returning for the fall. Devastated, I frantically searched the web for classes that wouldn't break the bank or the Uebel portfolio. I struck gold when I found a dance company at VT that offered free public ballet classes.
So a couple weeks later I met some friends outside the dance studio and with locked arms and trembling knees we walked in. Just inside the lobby at least twenty girls were stretching, changing into tights and slippers, and chatting away. I introduced myself and promptly found an open spot on the floor where I started stretching as long and hard as I possibly could. The problem with this is I DON'T KNOW HOW to stretch. I was copying what the girl next to me was doing, what the girl in front of me was doing, and even the girl behind me when I happened to look that way. Normally I hate stretching, I roll my eyes at Nic if he even suggests we do it before a run. But this particular night I could've been Gabby Douglas prepping for the vault. Yes, I was that intense.
Why? Because the 19 other girls in that room were doing the exact same thing and I was not about to be the only one not doing it. Especially since I was probably 10 years older than some of the girls in that room. *Did I mention my class this summer was a bunch of late-20, 30, and 40 somethings?* It was like I was back in middle school all of the sudden and I would say or do anything just to fit in. What in the world? I'm 28 years old and I'm suddenly having an identity crisis??
I think there's a little bit of that terrified, nail biting middle schooler in us all. Even the most independent, confident of women. We start to size each other up the minute we walk in a room. "She's so pretty, I can't talk to her. She's super smart, she wouldn't like me. Her voice sounds like an angel, she's too good for me." It's like we create some kind of ranking system in our head and we can only talk to the people who rank near us on our scale. So if you happen to think yourself a 10 then you could talk to anybody in the room. But if you're just a 3 you're going to spend the rest of the night trying to earn everybody else's respect and attention.
I used to think guys had it rough. I heard Nic say once that guys are always in competition with each other (the following is his example by the way). "Dude, my dog kicked me in the groin today" "Oh man that's nothing, last year my dog kicked me so hard it ended up on America's Funniest Home Videos." As stupid as it may be, at least they vocalize it. We ladies keep it all inside, hoping no one figures out where we rank on the scale, so we pull every muscle known to man because we want to seem like we know what we're doing.
So what do we do? One dance class and a few months later I realize my identity isn't quite as formed as I thought it was. And somewhere sits my middle school self just waiting for her spotlight to come around again.