What Are You Afraid Of?

Failure?  Looking silly?  Too fat?  Too skinny? Not pretty enough?  Not skilled enough?  Performing?

What am I talking about?

These are all reasons people have NOT taken my or other teachers’ belly dancing classes.  I’ve heard it all.  I’ve been told that people are scared to take my classes because they know they will never be able to do what I can do.  Seriously?

How can you know until you try?

Let me tell you a story:

There once was a lady who was a bit overweight.  She had asthma (or an equivalent that caused similar problems), she hated exercise, and had no self-esteem.  One day, a friend suggested getting some exercise videos instead of moaning over yet another missed day at the gym.  This lady found three belly dance videos on sale and, on a silly whim, decided to buy them and try them out.   She had heard of belly dance, but had never actually seen a performance before, so didn’t know what to expect.  Would it be hard?  Would it be silly?  But try them she did, and she found that belly dance was actually a lot of fun.  It was hard, sure, but there was a deliciousness in the challenge of trying to make her hip move this way instead of that way.  Ever so slowly, the lady’s body began to change.  Awhile later, bored with the videos and not sure where to go for more, the lady decided to see if there was a teacher in the area.  Surely, in a town this size, there would be a teacher, right?  Lo and behold, there was.  Scared, unsure what to expect, and feeling extremely self-conscious, the lady went to her first class.  She stood in the back, away from the other dancers who seemed skinny and flexible to her.  But surprisingly, the teacher was no yoga-hard-body, and the class was fun.  However, the lady still felt self-conscious, and would not bare her belly for the class.  But she resisted the natural urge to wear T-shirts as large as tents and picked up a few work-out tops that were more form-fitting.  She went to class after class, and soon, rolled up her shirt and bared that belly to the world for the very first time.  It was scary.  But she did it anyway.  To her surprise, the teacher asked her to move into the intermediate class, and before she knew it, she was in the performance class.  A new world of costumes, makeup, and performance lay ahead of the lady.  It still was scary, but she enjoyed it.  Sure, being part of a troupe was hard, but it was fun.  The other ladies in the troupe became her friends, and they had fun together.  Soon, it was time to strike out on her own.  Now the quiet, overweight, scared lady became a professional belly dancer.

And now I’ve said it…that lady was me.

I NEVER in a million years thought I would want to perform in front of other people.  I NEVER thought I would get good enough in belly dancing to perform it in front of others.  But you know what: I did.

I told you my story not for self-aggrandizement, but to help others realize that it’s OKAY to not be skilled in belly dance.  It’s OKAY to be overweight in belly dance.  It’s OKAY to not want to perform.  These things should NEVER stop you from starting a class, or trying a new teacher, or rolling up that shirt.  I started out as a newbie just like everybody else.  Here’s a secret: Rachel Brice was a newbie sometime in her life, too.  So was Jillina.  So was every single person that pops up on YouTube when you search “belly dance.”  You gotta start somewhere!

And if you DO want to perform, how can you expect to get better if you are too scared to even go to class?

Humans, on the whole, are afraid of failure.  Mix in our society’s pathological fear of failure with the ease in which failures and mistakes can make it out to the entire world through the Internet, and you get people who are terrified of trying anything new.  It doesn’t matter that you might never want to perform.  If you want to learn belly dance, don’t let ANYTHING stop you.  Go to class and have some fun.  Think of the difficulties you have in learning it as fun challenges instead.  If you want to perform, don’t let ANYTHING stop you.  Go to class, and improve yourself.

Don’t EVER be afraid of failure.   Failure is a part of life.  Yeah, it sucks, but you pick yourself up and move on.  How can you grow if you never make the move towards change in the first place?  Not good at hip circles?  Don’t just moan about how bad you are at them; put yourself in front of a mirror and work on it.  Or take a class with a teacher you respect.  Never done belly dance?  Try a class (many teachers have drop-in deals or free trial classes) and see how much fun it can be to challenge yourself.  And don’t be afraid of failing.  Don’t be afraid of not being perfect.  I sucked at belly dance when I first started, just like everyone else.  Getting good at something takes a brave heart, a strong mind, and a will to improve yourself…and we can all have those if we just put away the fears we have inside.  NEVER let fear stop you from doing what you want.

Now go out there and take a class!

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About Kamrah

Kamrah is a belly dancer in Chicago, IL. They started belly dance as an exercise routine but it turned into a passion for dance that has not lessened, even after more than a decade. They have a powerful presence on the stage, and is particularly known for their amazing shimmies. Kamrah is also known as a very versatile belly dancer, and audiences have come to expect the unexpected from them. Performances can be anything from traditional Egyptian, to tribal fusion, to fantasy cosplay (costume play) pieces.

2 responses to “What Are You Afraid Of?”

  1. trophos says :

    Goodness, this is exactly what I needed to hear tonight! I’ve been frustrated with myself in all my dance classes lately because I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut. But you’re right, I’m not going to get any better by sitting around and criticizing myself. Thanks for reminding me to be gentle with myself, and focus on the fun of dancing rather than some magic ideal of perfection.

    • Kamrah says :

      I’m glad! I sometimes do the same thing–tell myself I’m not as good as so-and-so or that I can’t ever possibly do this move or that move. Then I sit down and go…ya know…three years ago, I couldn’t do this move, and I thought I never get it. Now I perform it and get compliments on it. We have to allow ourselves space for failure 🙂 As much as we don’t want to admit it…

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