Never… enough? Oh, but you are!

Tina spins in her blue aerial hammock. Takeshi, her black cat appears, watches, then goes.

A friend recently lent me Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. It’s not my usual sort of read, but I held scepticism at bay and began. Page 25 resonated almost immediately.

  • Never good enough
  • Never perfect enough
  • Never thin enough
  • Never powerful enough
  • Never successful enough
  • Never smart enough
  • Never certain enough
  • Never safe enough
  • Never extraordinary enough

Drawing from Lynne Twist’s The Soul of Money, Brown argues how we (that wonderful generic undetermined pronoun) are particularly conscious of our ‘scarcity’, in terms of what we (don’t) have and what we (can’t) offer.

Any time I prepare for a new class, plan a new choreography, face a fresh page to scribble my words, I feel so many ‘nevers’. They eat at my ability to function. Is this normal? Healthy? Helpful?

I often give myself time off during school half-terms. In October, with the wonderful Canterbury Festival on my doorstep, I selfishly take a full two weeks. It always fills with irregular work opportunities, watching shows, mundane admin and domesticity, and of course planning the following half-term’s classes. The moment I enter the cabin or studio, doubt smacks me in the gut. Where do I begin?

After attending a week-long Learner Centred Learning teacher training in Germany a few months ago, I have experimented with how to include my students, learners, participants in the content of my classes. At the end of the aerial yoga block, I asked all those returning for feedback. Firstly, I asked about the warm-up. Did they prefer the choreographed ground-based group set, or starting immediately in the hammocks? Secondly, did they prefer yoga-specific movements supported by the hammocks, or aerial sequences with a nod to yoga?

Image of a document asking for feedback from participants. Ground-based warm-up to music versus hammock-based warm-up. Yoga specific movements with hammock support or aerial sequences with a nod to yoga. Ticks and comments are added by hand.
Students offer their feedback.

Why was I so nervous of their responses? So many have loyally returned term after term, some even year upon year. Perhaps that’s where the pressure lies, always trying to ensure everyone gets something worthwhile from their hour-a-week session, for their commitment, for their money?

Giving myself time to face the creative challenge one yogic action, one pull-up, one spin at a time, progress will be made. I always come up with something, so why should it be different this time?

As no doubt many of us do, I judge myself on my past abilities, my past body, my past fitness. I am no longer who I was. I am older, fatter, slower, weaker. I watched Casus Circus, revelled in their acrobatic finesse and mourned the acrobat and aerialist I used to be. But through that loss I have gained knowledge, experience, perhaps patience, and a greater awareness of how my students might also feel?

And the feedback has helped. It’s given me a starting point. I know who will be present. I know some of what they like, what they want, how they are. These are great gifts. I will be making on myself, with them in mind.

Still, I also know I will gulp the first time I teach the new still-forming classes. I know there will be hiccups as I evolve the way I teach over the six weeks; shouldn’t teaching and learning always work in partnership?

I may not become a great follower of Brown, but what she has offered in those few early chapters is a way to face the doubt, the nevers, the supposed scarcity, and to accept there has to be vulnerability for growth to occur.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment if you wish.

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