I subscribe to this newsletter called The Sunday Soother, in which the author – Catherine Andrews – once wrote about how she took a training course and was asked by her coach to “get up and dance to fairy music” in front of her instructor and classmates. She then goes on to explain how this was a complete nightmare for her, yet she survived. I remember reading this in a café during a trip to Aarhus, and thinking that I would be MORTIFIED if I had to do something similar – and I wouldn’t do it, God no. I’m the kind of person who’ll be at a club holding a glass and drinking melted ice for the rest of the night SO AS NOT TO DANCE.
But I don’t like that – it’s not fun. And I actually do like to dance; I just can’t let it go and enjoy it the same way I do when on my own in my room.
Using my mixing deck
I’ve spent some time thinking about this, but I’m only writing about it now because I attended a workshop last week that had nothing to do with this, but still hit the nail on the head. It was a workshop on how to speak more confidently, organized by an English teacher and a friend of mine, Sara Coggin. In it, she talked about this technique called “using your mixing deck”. She said:
“Imagine yourself next to a CEO of a big company. He’s powerful and confident – you, on the other hand, are nervous and hushed. He’s tall and strong, unlike you. He’s the “Tall CEO” and I’m “Small Sara”. So, by society’s standards, he’s more powerful than I am. But we should remember that confidence and power can have different versions. Sure, they’re all of that, but I’m creative and passionate, traits that he might not have but are as powerful!”
And she continued: “I like to imagine that it’s like having a mixing deck to play with my own traits. I can turn on certain traits, run them faster or slower according to the situation. So, what is it that you have on your mixing deck to play with? It’s about using different energies in different situations.”
Overall, I think this is a great exercise for people to understand what they can bring to the table – but for me, it was more about understanding what buttons I have available that I’m not making use of. One came to mind: “sensuality” (bah!).
On wearing a hoodie when it’s 35°C outside
The thing is: I’m afraid of sounding and looking ridiculous. If something that I do might be perceived as “sexy”, I immediately shake it off, like after a tumble, and I never expand it or prolong it in time. There’s a thin line between being sexy and creepy and I like to play safe. I don’t want to be laughed at. The same applies when dancing in a club, and anything else that might leave me exposed.
When I talked about this with one friend, whose Instagram profile shows off her dance moves and modeling, she said: “Well, there’ll always be better dancers on the dancefloor, but it’s about accepting that and embracing it”. Another friend of mine, who I admire a lot because of the confident way she carries herself, said: “It took me persistence, ambition and a little bit of “no fucks to give”. Seriously, life is a long holiday, enjoy it.”
It seems that the common thread here is to shift the focus from the external world to your internal self only. This also reminds me of a piece of advice I received a couple of weeks ago: “Be careful with the kind of conversation you have with yourself. Like in philosophy, if the premises don’t hold, you’re living your life based on a fallacy”. So, for example, if I think I’ll look ridiculous, without any proof or bad experiences with that, I’m missing out on having more fun than I have now when I go out, in my dating life, and so on.
This becomes even more relevant when you get intimate with someone. A friend of mine shared with me how she didn’t dare to tease her boyfriend – so much as giving him a provocative stare – even when he would point out how sexy she looked. But, in the same way I felt, she didn’t enjoy being this shy.
“When you initiate sex, who is the person that comes into the bedroom and what are the parts of you that you keep out?”, asked couples’ therapist Esther Perel on her podcast. “It’s all about confidence”, she said at the end.
Anyway, this doesn’t apply only to love and sex – it’s also about the way that you carry yourself and how much “space” you feel comfortable occupying. On Daring Greatly, Brené Brown, the expert on vulnerability, addresses this issue:
“Every single student in my daughter’s middle school wears a hoodie every single day (even when it’s 95 degrees fahrenheit outside). Not only do these jumpers shield vulnerability by being the ultimate in cool accessories, but I’m pretty sure the kids think of them as invisibility cloaks. They literally disappear inside them. They’re a way to hide. When the hoods are up and the hands are hidden in the pocket, they scream disengagement. Too cool to care”.
In my case, you could replace “hoodies” for “melted ice in a glass” or the “furthest away from the big mirror as possible” – these are like “hiding tools”, built to avoid being vulnerable. But like my friend said “It’s a matter of self-love, which is more than feeling pretty every day. You have to see yourself beyond the mirror – once you get this, you stop hiding”. It’s almost like separating yourself from your body – like you’re a foreigner spending holidays in a human body. It moves, it’s nice, that’s it.
I sometimes wonder if I overall want to become a cheekier person or if that’s how I really feel underneath it all. I even wonder, from a feminist perspective, if this concern isn’t just caused by wanting to be closer to what society considers to be more attractive. Debating on what was the right answer to this, I think it lies in the kind of things you do when you’re by yourself. My friend said, “you know what helped me become confident? Music”. So, how do you move when the music is on and you’re alone in your bedroom? Probably, you’re not holding an empty glass, hiding in a hoodie, the furthest away from the mirror of your bedroom as possible. So, there you go – touché.
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