Thanks to a last-minute invitation from a treasured colleague, I participated in my first Zumba class this evening. As soon as I arrived at the gym and stepped into the mirror-covered studio, the shame gremlins kicked into high gear. What were you thinking? You can't do this! Don't you remember those horrid salsa lessons you and Chris attempted a few years ago? You have no rhythm, you struggle to distinguish left from right, and unless you are slightly inebriated, your anxiety prevents you from letting loose and enjoying the moment.
Ten minutes after the class began, my heart was pounding, my breath was shallow, and my sense of inadequacy was at an all time high. As I watched myself fumble through each step and make ungraceful movements, I thought about the negative self-talk dominating the landscape of my mind. Three important theories forcefully collided.
I'm a fan of Howard Gardner, Carol Dweck, and Angela Duckworth. Their research, TED Talks, and books have shaped my educational philosophies. However, when it comes to athletic pursuits I'm not sure I fully embrace their well-grounded theories because in some ways they seem contradictory and incongruent.
When it comes to natural intelligence, I was not blessed in the areas of bodily kinesthetic or visual spatial. Anyone observing me as I attempt to dance, throw a ball, or read a map would probably laugh out loud. Because I was not endowed with natural talents based on these specific categories, I tend to have somewhat of a fixed mindset. If I fully embraced a growth mindset, my internal voice would say things like, You're not good at these skills YET, but you can improve. Grit focuses on the power of perservenance and sticking with a task for years or decades. This too proves challenging, because I have NO long term plans to audition for Dancing With the Stars.
Overall, I am glad I attended the class. My activity tracker hit the 10,000 step mark, and I enjoyed an connected conversation with a friend. Maybe being word smart and people smart is sufficent, and perhaps my tendency to overgeneralize and make premature cognitive commitments is the real problem.