I didn't always move like this.
Not that long ago, I had very clear ideas about what was appropriate for me in my role as a lawyer and mother, and carefully hid anything that wasn’t part of that picture. I really tried to be the person people expected me to be. Back then, your approval mattered a lot. Even if I didn’t know you, I still wanted you to like me and admire my choices.
This meant hiding the fact that in addition to being a kick-ass lawyer, wife and mother, I am also an accomplished competitive Latin dancer. It didn’t matter that dance has been my passion since I was a child; deep down, I didn’t believe I should be dancing. People judged, and I listened. They said snarky things and it made me feel small. I was asked how my husband “lets” me dance with another man, if my children mind that I travel, how I think dancing like this is appropriate, and the one that really stung - if other lawyers took me seriously once they knew I was a competitive Latin dancer.
I wish I could tell you I didn’t care about these stupid comments. But for a long time I did. People’s opinions about who I should be mattered to me, and so I tried to be who they expected. I danced well, but never with my heart and soul because I didn’t want to appear disrespectful to my husband. I never let anyone in the legal world know about my dancing. I felt horrible guilt when I would leave to go compete. More times than not, I would get to a competition and immediately wonder what the hell I was even doing there.
I parced my life into the pieces I thought people expected of me. I was good at all the pieces, and truly exceptional at none. I could not really enjoy even the things I tried to do for myself, because I was bombarded by judgment day and night. If it wasn’t coming from the outside, it was in my own head.
I needed the results to justify the journey, but that is a story for another day.
Everything changed for me the day I argued before the entire Supreme Court of Missouri for the first time. There is a tradition in Missouri that a lawyer who is arguing for the first time must be introduced to the Court by another attorney. My husband, who is my law partner, offered to do my introduction. I was very relaxed at this idea; who knows me better? Of course he will tell them I am a great lawyer. He got up to introduce me, and at first it went as expected. She is a great lawyer bla bla bla and then, he says, “and, she is a very accomplished ballroom dancer. You should see her dance, your Honors, she is incredible.” They all smiled, and he sat down.
I was mortified. Furious. Outraged. Incredulous. All at the same time. I couldn’t believe that this is what he chose to tell the 7 Missouri Supreme Court justices about me- and -right before I argued a complicated case. I was livid, but I couldn’t do a thing in that moment but get up and do my job.
My argument went well, and I noticed that no one seemed to be looking at me like I was a joke. After we finished, I went to the restroom and in walked one of the female Justices. She stopped me and said, “Okay, please tell me more about your dancing. I have always wanted to have more in my life than just the law. How do you do both? And where can I go around here for lessons?”
Wait. WHAT???? A Supreme Court justice is asking me about my dancing, and for advice on work/life balance? Are you freaking kidding me right now???? Everything slowed down for a moment, and as I answered her, I listened to my own voice for the first time in what seemed like forever.
It’s true, I was afraid to be my whole self all at the same time. But I didn’t need to be.
You see, we are not “just” this or that, and our roles in life are not mutually exclusive. This idea that if you are a lawyer, you can’t possibly be an amazing dancer and still be respected as both, or if you are a Mom you can’t possibly pursue a passion that has nothing to do with your kids and still be an outstanding parent, is completely and utterly false.
Similarly, someone’s suggestion that I can’t be dancing with a professional partner while remaining madly in love with and loyal to my own husband is someone else’s pathetic mind garbage- it has nothing to do with my reality and I have no reason to defend it or be inhibited by it.
So great was my desire for approval that I allowed way too much external garbage to inform my choices, my thoughts and my reality.
My ideas about what people expected of me were being dictated by the world at large, by people who didn’t even know me, by people who didn’t love me, and by people who didn’t get me. In an attempt to fit the mold of confident, powerful woman, I was actually giving my power away by letting other people define what that was for me.
This realization drastically changed my life, my dancing, and my ideas about confidence. I used to think confidence was only about selling it. About giving people what they were expecting. Sure, these things matter, and we absolutely must be able to do them. But more importantly, confidence is about BEING who you are, all parts of you at once, in the biggest, most unapologetic way.
This is how I now move through life, and how I dance. I have learned how to quiet the inhibiting internal and external noise, and I can show you how to do this too.
Join me in Club B as I guide you through movement that helps you connect with your own inner wisdom and put authentic power in your body. It’s about so much more than dancing. When you move through life in this way, magic happens.
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