Fighting with the aerialist in your head

Sunday, July 20, 2014 6:18 PM

We all have one: An aerialist in our head that looks amazing, is super strong and can perform amazing feats at exactly the right time. This inner aerialist can often cause us to feel frustrated. Below is a blog written by one of our own, the ridiculously bendy April VanSleet. In class she is everyones biggest supporter and cheerleader. But, like everyone else, she was hardest on herself. She learned to defeat that inner aerialist though, maybe you can too!

I’ll admit, when Zahra first asked if I was interested in writing as a guest blogger for the Air Born Aerial Fitness blog, I was stoked (and flattered). My intention was to write an informative piece about how imperative it is to truthfully assess our skill level, but then a revelation occurred! What makes me an expert in assessing someone’s aerial skill level? And who cares? (Okay, we care. Don’t be stupid! Know you’re skill level and work within it.) There are several students with aerial knowledge equal or exceeding my own, thus any information I give will be a mere repeat of what they already know. So what can I write about? What relevant information do I possess that may be of interest to others? Then it hit me! I needed to pick a subject I had personal experience with, not something requiring hours of research and various facts. So after some serious soul searching, I decided to write this....

How many of us have left class discouraged because we were unable to perform a pose? I mean, every other student entered into it easily, what was my malfunction? How many felt like a failure because another student executed a pose with ballerina style grace while you resembled a peg-leg leprechaun?

Honestly, I am guilty of having all of these feelings at one time or another. Many times, I debated on my commitment to aerials, desperately wondering if I could progress enough to be “good”. But one day as I sat in yoga class, the fog cleared and I saw everything crystal clear. (side note: April and Crystal are working on their yoga instructor certification! Kudos to them for that accomplishment!)

The only reason I wasn’t progressing as an aerialist is because I was telling myself I wasn’t progressing. I cheated myself with constant comparison and a reliance on others to validate my abilities. I would never be my inner aerialist because my inner aerialist wasn’t me! My inner aerialist was a deranged mash-up of everyone else, but me! How tragic is that? And there was no one to blame, but yours truly.

It was at that moment, I decided to no longer sabotage myself. I realized I could be my inner aerialist when I started being content with myself and appreciative of MY abilities. Yes, I can still be amazed and slightly envious at the talents of others, but I now understand I will never execute a skill like anyone else. I can work on perfecting a skill, but my body will never look like anyone else, because we all move differently. My legs will never look a mile long in back straddle, but that is okay. My short legs allow me to easily reach my toes and call capris “pants”.

I also realized I should never base my self-esteem on the opinions and acknowledgments of others. Not only is this stupid, but it totally contradicts the word self-esteem. Yes, it is nice for your instructor or classmates to notice your improvement, but isn’t it more important for YOU to notice your improvement?
So, (queue ‘Breakfast Club’ closing music here) next time you’re in class and you find yourself jealous of my bendy back, Alicia’s strength, Arielle’s grace, Brenda’s ability to fearlessly “become” a character, Crystal’s beautifully pointed toes, little Faith’s ability to quickly pick up her aerial skills, Jordan’s all around flexibility, Marissa’s ability to effortlessly execute EVERYTHING we find painful, Patricia’s gorgeous middle splits, Rainey’s fearlessness, Tracey’s determination, or Will’s ability to show everyone aerial can be performed beautifully by women AND MEN; and the bravery of our new students who come to class every time with beautiful determination; remind yourself of your own awesomeness! Once we all realize our skills and our potential, we BECOME our inner aerialist. No, we may not have perfected a craptastic, but in time and with practice, we can do anything. Rome wasn’t built in a day and no aerialist came to her first class with every skill perfected; everyone must work to achieve his or her goal. It is when we commit ourselves to a goal; we take the greatest pride in achieving it.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. So, stand up, stop comparing yourself to others and recognize how amazingly perfect you truly are! And as we say in yoga: Namaste.

  1. -April

Interested in being a guest blogger? Email me with your brilliant words, and let’s put them forever into cyberspace history!!