When I was in high school, one of the games that my friend group liked to play was volleyball. Anytime we went on a picnic, there would be volleyball. I am not athletically inclined so I would watch but I eventually forced myself to play so I wouldn’t be left out. I remember feeling so awkward and self-conscious as I missed ball after ball. I felt horrible during the game and hated myself for being so inept. “What is wrong with me?” was a question I’d ask myself often, especially as I compared myself to my friends who were so good at it.

I’ve lived most of my life from this place of the pain I felt from being imperfect.

I took a hip hop dance exercise class this week. I’m not a natural dancer so following along was hard. I could barely keep up and couldn’t get coordinated enough to do most of the moves, usually turning the wrong direction as the entire class went the opposite way.

I had so much fun!

As I fumbled along in the class, I was keenly aware of how poorly I was doing but felt comfortable in my body. Instead of judging and comparing myself to all the other class attendees and feeling stupid, I noticed how much fun I was having. After class, I spoke to the instructor and some of the class attendees and they told me they’d all been taking the class for years. I told them that I knew I’d learn the moves eventually but that it would take time. I intend to continue taking the class, not only trusting that I will get there but also being okay even if I’m unable to learn all the moves.

This class was a good reminder of how much growth I’d been through the last 4+ years and I thought about what specific things helped me get here to meet myself with such compassion. Obviously, it wasn’t one singular thing… journaling through this newsletter, meditation, yoga, seeking deep connection with friends, doing all the things that scared me like taking WomanSpeak and starting my transformative photography business… But if I were to take all these things and sum them up into one overarching theme, the thing that truly changed everything was eventually having the courage to face myself.

When we are willing to face the parts of us that we don’t love (in my case, what felt like my entire being), we dive deeper and deeper into ourselves until we eventually get to the core of us; this is the most essential part of us that has inherent worth. This is the part of us that we are all born with, regardless of where or when, and the part of us that is essentially good. This essential core has worth, not for what exists on the outside but because we are human and deserve to be seen and loved. It is from this deep place that we can learn to live and see ourselves. It is a place that is filled with compassion and unconditional love.

The woman dancing in that hip hop class this week wasn’t the clumsy, uncoordinated newbie version of me who couldn’t keep up. It was the essential core of me learning to move her body while feeling free and taking up space as the imperfect human that she is.

This is from a personal journal writing shared in the newsletter and typically not shared on the blog. To read these, subscribe to the “I Matter” newsletter below.

Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash