I’m a firm supporter of believing in ourselves and thinking positively. As an elementary school teacher, I read the story, The Little Engine That Could, every year to my students. We made train hats and throughout the school year, we chanted, “I think I can. I think I can.” The students wrote the words, “I can’t” on pieces of paper and then I had them rip up them up and throw them away. I’ve read the story to my own children many times and we have my very large copy of the book at home for those challenging life moments when my boys doubt themselves. I believe that saying, “I can” is a powerful tool to accomplishing our goals and when we reach our goals, we build our self-esteem and personal strength, but then there was U-Jam.
Over the years, I’ve taken on a new challenges that have helped me improve my life and my personal strength. From college and teaching jobs to learning a new language and motherhood, I’ve always thought to myself, “I can do this.” Sure, there were struggles and failures, but my initial efforts at doing something always began with the belief that I could do it. I kept going because I believed I could. After experiencing success, I’ve delighted in the boost of confidence and motivation that always follows and I’ve been propelled forward to the next challenge.
After a life time of doing what I thought I could, I decided it was time to try something I didn’t think I could do. You know, step outside of my comfort zone so I could really grow and learn. Sure, there was probably a small part of myself that thought I could do it or I wouldn’t have tried at all, but mostly I just thought I’d learn to dance a little better.
I’d been instructing Zumba classes for a little over a year and through the new dance fitness network I’d become a part of, I heard about U-Jam. I attended a few U-Jam classes and could barely keep up with the footwork. I loved the music and the dance moves, but they seemed way more difficult than anything I’d done before. Many of the dances were hip-hop, something I didn’t think I could do without looking really stupid.
I wavered back and forth about whether or not I should attempt to become a U-Jam instructor. Most of my friends encouraged me to do it since I already taught Zumba, but I had serious doubts and fears. Since we were having a training locally and several people I knew were attending, I decided I’d take the risk. I signed up for the two day training.
Although I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, I did. I didn’t think I danced as well as anyone else in the room. I struggled with remembering the choreography and hitting every move, but the trainer did a fantastic job at explaining everything. I did learn to dance much better, but I still felt inadequate. During the workshop assessment, I messed up, but not enough to not pass. I wasn’t the only one who messed up, but I still felt insecure about my ability to make it.
After the workshop, I stressed about learning the three dances required for the video assessment. My first attempts at doing the dances on my own went poorly. I couldn’t remember the choreography at all. Two friends from the workshop completed their videos within a month or so. I couldn’t believe how fast they learned the dances. I reached out to the local U-Jam instructor and my workshop trainer. They helped me with choreography and confidence, but I seriously didn’t think I could ever learn those dances. I did consider not doing the video assessment, but there were people who believed in me and kept telling me not to give up. I wanted to though.
It came time to videotape. I made five different videos and chose the best one to send out. There was an option of asking for an extension and practicing more, but I was spent. I had given it my all and hoped that was good enough. When I sent my video, I didn’t really think I would pass, but I was okay with it. I knew I could work with a trainer to improve. So much energy and time went into making the video, I was happy to be done.
Time passed and I rested in the belief that I didn’t pass. I was prepared to just let it go and not pursue U-Jam at all because it was just too hard for me. Friends asked regularly if I’d heard yet, and I’d say that I hadn’t, but I wasn’t expecting to pass. Then the day came. I had an email from U-Jam. I was afraid to open it. I read it many times to make sure I read it correctly. I PASSED!!!
The biggest surge of energy came up through my body. It was nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced. My smile hurt. I called my very first U-Jam instructor, Rosie, and told her the news. Saying the words to her made me feel even more happy and proud. Accomplishing what I didn’t think I could accomplish took me to a whole new level of confidence. I felt like I could do anything from that point on. It was such a different experience than when I’d done something I knew I could do.
I’m so proud of myself for taking on something new. I’ve learned that it’s okay to doubt your ability to do something, as long as you still try and you don’t give up. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to just depend on myself to get through something. There are amazing people in my life who believe in me when I don’t believe in myself and they will help me through. Without them, I would have given up. I wish that wasn’t the truth, but it is. I’d never tried something I wasn’t sure I could eventually accomplish. The doubt I felt was overwhelming, but nobody let me give into it. I’m so thankful to everyone who supported me, and still does.
I thought I couldn’t, but it didn’t stop me. My friends got behind me and pushed me over the mountain to prove me wrong. Thank you! Not sure what’s next! I’m sure it’s something I’ve never imagined. Here’s to living outside my comfort zone!