You know how I can be when learning something new – I get all tangled up in helping my body move in the way my brain wants to and then I get annoyed with myself. My annoyance makes me tense and the tension makes me worse at whatever I was struggling with in the first place.
Yes, I do get on my own nerves just thinking about it.
One of the few times I have sidestepped this scenario is when I tried Zumba on the Xbox a few years ago. Instead of being frustrated when I didn’t ‘get’ it, I found myself laughing at my mistakes and then just carrying on. It was eye-opening.
Unfortunately, soon after I got into the habit of laughing at my ineptness, changes in the Xbox menu made it tricky for me to access Zumba easily. It was a tiny obstacle, but enough to deter me.
I remembered that feeling though. I am rarely casual about learning new things, and I hardly ever laugh in the process of making mistakes. I wanted to have that feeling again, in other contexts, but it didn’t happen.
Then, last spring, I was lucky enough to take a Nia dance class from my friend Elaine.
I made a mess of the movements* but I was laughing at myself. I was only getting about half of the choreography but I was having a grand time.
I have been trying to fit more Nia in ever since but I have only managed to make that happen in the past few weeks. Every Thursday morning, I go to class, flail around ridiculously and enjoy the hell out of it.
I can’t hear the changes in the music that tell me I should change steps. I routinely head in the wrong direction. I start too early and end too soon. As I told a friend of mine recently, I feel like I am gloriously awful at it.
I’m not putting myself down here. I’m probably not particularly bad at Nia – and the nature of Nia is that it doesn’t seem to matter how good you are anyway – I’m just celebrating the fact that I am not getting into that cycle of frustration while I learn. I am not the least bit concerned about how slowly I am learning – I am just reveling in the fun of the movements. I’m sure it helps that there are martial arts-type moves in the dances so I have a feeling of familiarity but, mostly, I’m just going with the feeling of glorious awfulness.
I LOVE being gloriously awful. I feel no pressure to get better at it – even though I am, no doubt, improving as we go along. Getting better just doesn’t seem like something I should focus on – having fun does.
Being in this space is really fun for me and it has my brain whirring – how can I bring this same feeling to other movement I am trying to learn? Can I enjoy being awful at a new pattern? Can I be gloriously awful at parts of Taekwon-Do while I learn?
I certainly intend to find out.
Are you gloriously awful at any forms of exercise? Is being awful part of the reason you enjoy it?
*Learning new moves WHILE matching them to music is a challenge, at the very least.