Zumba Exposure therapy for shyness

You folks might laugh at this, but I teach Zumba. I’m actually quite good at it and I’m a gym favorite pretty much anywhere I’ve gone to teach. Well, almost everywhere, Riverdale and Fordham Road weren’t very welcoming. Hell, neither was Richmond Hill for the the most part. Meh, you can’t win them all.

I do this because I was never a good dancer and I’m terrified of large groups. I’m shy to the point where I want to run away sometimes. In fact, there have been times in class where I actually become hyperaware of what it is that I’m doing and during those moments, I want to get off the stage and run away. You’d never know it by just being around me, you’d think I was confident and totally under control. I’m not, but I always stay there and see it through to the end, I make myself get uncomfortable. 

I guess this is called exposure therapy, I’ve self prescribed it to become a better, stronger person. I decided to teach and get decent at something that I’m not very good at. I used that stage to force myself to face and overcome the fear of being in front of 80 women dancing in silly and even suggestive ways. To my surprise, I’ve managed to win their hearts and minds and have become one of their favorites, despite being terrified. 

Due to covid, it had been months since I taught. During that time I gained a lot of weight and I felt terribly anxious about going back and pretty much starting over on my fitness journey. How could I go on stage and lead when I lost my own way? This made me very scared and uncomfortable in my head, but when the time came, I once again answered the call and delivered the goods. 

By the way, Zumba exposure therapy came later, I once fought in an underground MMA match and I got my ass whooped. Way to get some brutal exposure therapy! But that’s a whole other story. Basically, some people are just not meant to fight, they are not “fighters.” I didn’t want to hurt my opponents, but they had no problem hurting me. This was a raw deal and I realized that I’m not meant to compete in this sport. I just don’t have the will to try and hurt someone for sport.

I still love training BJJ and MMA, but dancing is way safer and gives me less headaches. Haha. Performing poetry and music was another great outlet for me and helped me get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Whatever it is, find your own way to cope, (even Zumba) and just do it.

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