Dare to be Awkward!

by Aileen

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t fit in, like you were in the wrong club or wrong group of people? Have you wondered if you missed the memo that told you your group was over there, not here?

I find myself in this spot rather often, especially when it comes to dance. I’m no longer in my teens or even twenties for that matter,  and most of my age group are likely found in Yoga or Zumba, rather than ballet.

I knew auditions for the Nutcracker were coming up and I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it. The thought of enduring the awkwardness of filling out the paperwork that requests my age and then dancing along side some phenomenally talented not so humble teenagers definitely made me hesitate.

Having had my first ballet class at age 23, which is a time when some are already retiring,  I never really thought it would be an option for me to perform in a production of The Nutcracker. I’ve found performance opportunities over the years, but The Nutcracker has been a long time dream.

So Friday arrived and I surrendered to my desire. I ran into the local dance supply store for a new pair of tights and a new skirt so I wouldn’t look ratty. In the tiny shop, all these girls were trying on shoes and updating their dance attire, and talking about preparing for their Nutcracker audition.

It felt like Saturday was the unstated national Nutcracker Audition Day. Whether you’re 5, 15, or …”older.”

When the employee asked me if I was looking for dance attire for “my child” I laughed (I wanted to cry, but I laughed). I said, “oh, um no, actually I’m here for me.”

Every day life gives us opportunities to define our desires. We have the option to explore them or deny them. All too often, we don’t make the awkward choice to do the thing we’d really like to do because we feel a bit ridiculous, or we find excuses that make seemingly logical sense instead.

It was at this moment, at this very moment…. that I made the awkward choice.

I do love the precious times when I feel like I’m part of a group where I belong, but it’s been rather rare because in order to do what I really want to do, I often go alone or accept the feeling of being a bit out of place. Words can not express how ecstatic I was to meet another “older” dancer at the audition. We were so excited not to be the only “older” person there, that it gave us a lighter feeling,  a fun flare and took away a few pounds of nerves.

I was the most centered, grounded, and present that I have ever been during an audition. The parts where I should have done well, I did. The parts where I would most likely mess up, I did. But that didn’t stop me. I was back on again.

I don’t know if my new friend or I will be in the production or not. We’ll know on Thursday. Of course, I’m really hoping we both make it, but however it unfolds, I’m happy I embraced the awkwardness and danced anyway.

So get out there and take the journey that you are wanting to take. Whether it’s a long time dream or a spontaneous desire, embrace awkward and have fun with it.  I dare you!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living September 13, 2010

Brilliant! So so so brave of you to do this – I am so proud of you – who says the love and enjoyment of something as ETERNAL and timeless as ballet is restricted to girls in the ages where they are children to where they are hardly mature! And whatever happens Thursday (I mean whatever!!), you have got out and auditioned and shown what brave and gutless stuff you are made of, Aileen.
Oh and by the way, if you care to find more people in *our* age-group, check out the Argentine tango scene. It might just strike your fancy, my dear – and there is a huge range of tango lovers in age but it is mostly those in 30s and 40s! Big hugs { } !!!
Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living´s last [type] ..Winners of the Movie Contest and Your 30 Best Films

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Aileen September 13, 2010

Thank you Farnoosh!
I haven’t explored Argentine tango yet :) but I may. You do have wonderful suggestions!!

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Angela Artemis September 13, 2010

Aileen,
These kind of posts are my favorite! You talk from your experience and I can relate! You’re right we need to give in to our feelings of awkwardness at times and do the things we dream of anyway – even if we think we don’t fit in. Only when we follow our hearts does the Universe line up behind our desires to give us more of what our heart desires! Good for you. I can’t wait to hear what happens next!
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Who Creates Your Economy

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Aileen September 13, 2010

:) Thank you Angela! You state it perfectly, “Only when we fol­low our hearts does the Uni­verse line up behind our desires to give us more of what our heart desires!” Sometimes it’s a challenge to commit, but the Universe does respond when we do. I will definitely let you know what I find out on Thursday :)

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The Exception September 13, 2010

YAY YOU!!!
My daughter is one of those ballerinas. She has been dancing since she was nearly 3 and will dance in the Nutcracker again this December – her first rehearsal was Saturday. It is all about shoes and the endless washing of tights… and she loves it.
There are adult classes at her school so – those who take classes are able to perform – and it is fabulous! I love seeing the women, of all shapes and sizes, dancing and performing because… they love it. They are such an example to the younger dancers as, not everyone will be a professional, but they illustrate that everyone can dance and perform simply because they are willing to try and do what they love!!
The Exception´s last [type] ..She is the woman Also Known as Hope

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Aileen September 13, 2010

Oh how Wonderful she will perform in the Nutcracker! How wonderful, wonderful, wonderful she embraces her passion and dances!
I love that her school offers adult classes and allows them performing opportunities – that is incredible fantastic! I have noticed most dance studios around here aren’t really “adult friendly” – It’s always a breath of fresh air when I find a teacher who enjoys teaching adults. I just love your words, “I love see­ing the women, of all shapes and sizes, danc­ing and per­form­ing because… they love it. They are such an exam­ple to the younger dancers as, not every­one will be a pro­fes­sional, but they illus­trate that every­one can dance and per­form sim­ply because they are will­ing to try and do what they love!!” – as an audience person, I too enjoy watching all ages and all shapes dance – it offers more to an audience.

:)

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Katie September 13, 2010

Bravo, Aileen! You are so brave to move beyond your awkwardness. I know that feeling well, have experienced it often and have let it thwart some opportunities because I just didn’t want to feel bad. Most of the time, we only think we’ll feel bad but we don’t. I’ve had both so I tend to waver depending on the circumstances, but I’ve learned do what I love and usually awkwardness melts when you’re passionate about something. Well done!
Katie´s last [type] ..A Simple Guide to Joy Riding

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Aileen September 13, 2010

Ahhh, yes I do understand the wavering based on the particular circumstance. It always surprises me a bit when awkwardness melts away in the process – it’s as though it’s a thin paper like barrier that appears so strong and impermeable.

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Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point September 13, 2010

I love this, Aileen! Kudos to you for following your bliss. (I’m slightly saddened that not more older people audition for ballet. We are we such an ageist culture?) Like many, I’ve let myself be held back more times than I’d like because of what people would think. But this is no way to live a happy, flourishing life. Being embarrassed, I’ve learned, is largely a function of our reaction to how people perceive us and has no correlation to how we actually are. If I put on a chicken suit, people might think I’m a fool but that doesn’t actually make me a fool.

Incidentally, my post today is about how I followed my dream to learn how to draw and paint years ago. defying what anyone thought of my skill level pre-art classes.

I’d love to see more and more of us following our dreams, lsitening to our heart’s desire, instead of following the herd. That would make for a lot more happiness in the world, wouldn’t it?

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Aileen September 13, 2010

Belinda, your last post about your journey into painting, http://thehalfwaypoint.net/2010/09/life-lessons-from-art-classes/ – is incredibly encouraging! I am right there with you, “I’d love to see more and more of us fol­low­ing our dreams, lsiten­ing to our heart’s desire, instead of fol­low­ing the herd. That would make for a lot more hap­pi­ness in the world, wouldn’t it?”

Yes, I do see too much of an ageist cul­ture – but maybe it also stems from within. In your post you mention the common limiting belief – “too old for …” and as you say, it’s “needlessly limiting”

I agree with you, “Being embar­rassed, I’ve learned, is largely a func­tion of our reac­tion to how peo­ple per­ceive us and has no cor­re­la­tion to how we actu­ally are” – embarrassment happens, awkwardness happens, but we don’t have to let it stop us. I admire 5 year olds for the freedom they have to just express without inner judgment/embarrassment – oh to live so freely

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Preeti @ Heart and Mind September 13, 2010

Aileen,

That is such a inspiring story and I am so happy for you that you chose to be awkward and yet succeed. I can related as I have taken ballet class (done nothing since for it) and I have felt like I do not fit in many ways.

I am too traditional for my American friends and too modern for my Indian friends! I do not fit in and that is okay, I will give you company being awkward!
Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last [type] ..What if you had Golden Touch

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Aileen September 13, 2010

YAY, I have company in Awkwardness. Thank you Preeti!! I love that you say,”I do not fit in and that is okay” You are simply you :) by design … and that may mean a bit too traditional for some and a bit too modern for others. We have the choice of trying to fit in, and trying to adjust who we are – or just be ourselves and see who accepts us for who we are. The good part of making that decision, is the quality of friendships that we can have because of it.

I happy that you join me in the land of Awkward :)

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Preeti @ Heart and Mind September 17, 2010

Aileen,

I am happy to have your company in this journey, it is not so bad huh when we are with a friend? :-)
Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last [type] ..Top 10 reasons why I am not on Twitter

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Louise September 14, 2010

I loved this cheery delightful post and enjoyed laughing as I pictured the clerk in the store – Right On!!! Congratulations !!

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Hahaha – yes, it was a funny & awkward moment in the store :) thank you!!

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Alison Kerr September 14, 2010

Good for your Aileen. Yes, I often feel out-of-step with those around me, but as long as I am receiving joy that’s what counts. I hope Thursday will be a day of calmness and light for you.

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Thank you Alison! great perspective you have, “as long as I am receiv­ing joy that’s what counts” – I completely agree!!

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Eileen O'Shea September 14, 2010

Aileen,
Now that I’m in my 60’s I’m much more likely to “feel the awkwardness and do it anyway” – whatever “it” is. And I’ve yet to be sorry when I make that choice. Hell, life’s too short to let awkwardness (or any other fear) hold me back any more.

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Wise words Eileen!!! “feel the awk­ward­ness and do it any­way” “life’s too short to let awk­ward­ness (or any other fear) hold me back any more”
Thank you for sharing your wisdom & thanks for stopping by :)

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John Sherry September 15, 2010

I loved the title of this Aileen and the story that followed was even more impressive. I used to be called awkward by my mum for daring to choose things I wanted to do i.e. not toe the line or do what I was told. I guess we grow up fitting in and being part of the herd mentality when we would really love to branch out into our own stuff. And we can as it starts in things like ballet or bowling or being the only male in an aerobics class of 50 women at the health club like I did in the 80’s! Start there and be as awkward as you like or dare to be. It’s where the individual is born and the identity grows. Good luck at Nutcracking and please send me picture of that tutu!!!
John Sherry´s last [type] ..Go On Have A Go

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Aileen September 15, 2010

John that sounds like fun – being the only male in aerobics class. – I’m glad you’re a fan of daring to do the things you want to do! brilliant words, “It’s where the indi­vid­ual is born and the iden­tity grows”

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Cristina September 15, 2010

Brilliant post! Congratulation for going to the audition – no matter the result, you deserve a prize for daring to be yourself, and gor trying!
I’d love to try ballet, but all the classes in my area are for kids :(
Hope you get chosen :)
Cristina´s last [type] ..Design Basics Series- Understanding Colour

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Thank you Cristina! I really wish there were adult ballet classes in your area :( maybe we can find away to make it hip for dance studios to offer more adult classes

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Leah McClellan September 15, 2010

Love it Aileen–Good for you! I hope you get the part :) I can definitely relate since most of my inline skating friends are or have been much, much younger than I am–and most of them guys. Aggressive stunt skating doesn’t attract a lot of women–of any age! And I didn’t start until I was in my young 30s. Got a big kick out of kicking the butts of the 19-year-olds (men or women) in races and performances! Lots of fun, too. Fun knows no age!

You go–do it! YAY!
Leah McClellan´s last [type] ..How Many Ways Can We Harm Someone

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Leah you are right on!!!” Fun knows no age!” I love that you enjoy kicking the butts of the 19-year-olds in races & performances – that is truly, truly fabulous!

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Tess The Bold Life September 15, 2010

What an awesome and brave thing to do. Congratulations! You made it even if you didn’t;)
Tess The Bold Life´s last [type] ..The Art &amp Craft of Saying ‘No’

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Aileen September 15, 2010

Thank you Tess!!!

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Lance September 19, 2010

Aileen,
I love how you have chosen to embrace life in this moment of awkwardness….and in that touched upon something deeper within you. And you know what else that does…it gives others permission to do that same…and that’s very awesome too!!

Keep dancing!!
Lance´s last [type] ..Sunday Thought For The Day

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Aileen September 20, 2010

So very true and great to be reminded , “it gives oth­ers per­mis­sion to do that same…and that’s very awe­some too!!”
Thank you for your fabulous comment Lance.

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Kenia copeland September 20, 2010

Awesome, I love articles like this one. Life begis at 43! :)

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Johanna October 9, 2010

Love your post, Aileen!
I know what you´re talking about – the awkwardness of not fitting in, or feeling like you don´t. I was 22 when I started ballet, and at the time I wasn’t the only late starter, and fit in just fine. Now, some 19 years later, I find myself often being the oldest in class -actually old enough to be the mother of some of my classmates! It´s weird, because I don’t feel my age (and luckily, don´t look it, either), but you just can’t argue the numbers..
In many ways I´m just like my young friends, obsessing about all dance-related stuff and trying to be a better dancer. However, I´m always avoiding the question about my age. I just don´t want to be pidgeon-holed away, I want to be a part of this fabulous group of dancers! Although I guess no one would care the least if I “came out” (with my age, that is). Fortunately, our adult advanced class has students ranging from 17 to 42. And our fantastic teacher pushes me just as hard as the younger students. Two years ago, I even performed for the first time on a real stage! I was scared as heck, waiting in the wings, but It was then or never!
Yeah, so it is awkward at times, and yes, we adult dancers are oddities, but so what? I say embrace your unique desires and talents! Don´t let other´s expectations for mediocrity cloud your dreams!

Always keep your love for dance alive.

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Michael@OutMaturity October 20, 2010

Aileen,

Really great post! Reminds us all that all it takes to “succeed” whether you get the part or not, is to take the first step!

Thanks for posting!

Michael
Michael@OutMaturity´s last [type] ..Just a post

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Aileen October 20, 2010

Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by :)

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being amazed at the power of small steps – and taking the step even when all sorts of hesitation tries to hold a person back – it’s a neat experience to move forward while wrestling with self.

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Ananga - Living by Design November 30, 2010

Thank you for sharing. I always love stories from people who dare to “have a go” whatever the outcome may be. I particularly enjoyed how your honesty carried you forward when you could have backed out due a misconception.

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Aileen December 2, 2010

Thank you Ananga! I too am encouraged by those who “have a go” at things that are in their heart.

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Fred Tracy January 25, 2011

This is awesome. To me, pushing boundaries is what life is all about. Looks like you blew through that one!
Fred Tracy´s last [type] ..Guest Article About Creativity

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