… into the “real” world.
No, this post is not about my tendency to strike up a ballet pose at random, or attempt traveling steps the second I have an open area of more than 8ft by 10ft in front of me… though those things have been known to happen quite frequently. Perhaps a misleading title again…
I found myself with some rare extra free time, so I went “hiking”. I put hiking in quotes because, due to curently not having a hiking buddy for safety, my hiking options are somewhat limited; I usually end up on this local-to-me mountain – more of a glorified hill, I suppose – that, while it does have some legitimate hiking trails, the vast majority of people end up on the main trail, which is a narrow paved road. So, it’s more of a steepish uphill walk. But it’s still one of my favorite local places outside of ballet class and my garden – and a great leg workout nonetheless – so today I ended up there.
Where the ballet relevance comes in is my posture while walking. I like to use the opportunity to really focus on my posture, staying pulled up, core held tightly, collarbones open, sternum up, shoulders back, lats engaged, tailbone down, head up – all the things that a ballet teacher corrects on during class. I’ve found that doing this when I’m doing stuff around the home really helps keep the muscle memory more active than just letting it all go the second I leave class. It’s also a sign of progress for me, because back when I first started ballet – and even as late as over a year into my ballet journey – even just standing there pulled up for a long time was a huge challenge. To be able to keep that posture while doing housework and chores would have been unthinkable. I’m getting stronger, hooray!
There’s also the being in public aspect of it. A few months ago, I read this blog post online that basically stated that our posture and body language is a function of our self-esteem – or lack thereof – and that to work on the posture of the body from the outside in, rather than the other way around (work on self-esteem first, posture will follow) was foolish. I have to admit, I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction against what he was saying. ‘No way!’ I thought, ‘Give me someone with terrible self-esteem and have me train them using Pilates and ballet, and I will get them to stand up straight!’. After all, it’s about having the knowledge of your body and engaging the correct muscles. I mean, before starting dance I didn’t even know I had lats, let alone how to engage them.
Then I did more thinking (yeah, I’m one of those people who overthinks everything, whatever…) and, well, perhaps there’s something to what he was saying. I mean, no, it’s not impossible to train someone with low self-esteem to stand up straight, but there’s more to it than that. I’ll continue to use myself as an example (I don’t know if I (still) have low self-esteem necessarily, but at times I have a hell of a lot of anxiety).
I’ve noticed, and have known this for years now, that even if I consciously choose to stand up straight, when in the presence of someone I perceive as intimidating my body will sort of close itself down. Like, I’m telling it ‘shoulders back, head up’ and I do it, but slowly start shrinking back down. I found something online that said that I’m subconsciously trying to make myself smaller, to appear non-threatening, to not challenge the other person, to avoid confrontation. Which does seem quite accurate, if I must be honest with myself.
So, I’ve been practicing keeping my good posture even when surrounded by people, especially if I feel intimidated. I’m hoping to lessen the anxiety surrounding it, until it eventually goes away completely. Will it work? Who knows, but for now I am showing signs of progress and that’s all I can ask for.
The “hike” reminded me of my old hiking buddy Lindsay (I wrote about her on here before, mostly about how I haven’t told her than I’ve been doing ballet since she moved away because I didn’t want her to tease me about it), and times past before I started ballet-ing. As a weird way of keeping the memory alive, when I came home I took a nice long bath with candlelight and essential oils, totally a Lindsay thing to do. I took a book with me to the bath, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, which I found at a thrift store a couple months ago but hadn’t had a chance to read because homework and chores. Only got about 60 pages in before the timer went off (I had set the kitchen timer to go off so I didn’t turn into a prune in the bath…), but still, an extremely relaxing time was had.