Left Shark Moment

There I am on the far left, looking seriously professional.

But don’t be fooled… This was my left shark moment. 

Let’s rewind for those who don’t know this cultural reference.

During the 2015 Super Bowl, Katy Perry rocked the half time show. It was great exposure for her, but the true star was one of her backup dancers — the man in the giant shark costume on her left.

“Left shark” became an instant celebrity featured on national news outlets. People talked about him for weeks because his choreography was clearly off and his improvised moves were oh-so hilarious. You can see the video here.

(Left shark made headlines again recently when he explained what happened during the performance. See this NPR article.)

Ok — now back to the story!

In February, I joined a four-week women’s salsa styling class. I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn new moves and make friends.

When I arrived for the first class, however, the teacher announced we would perform the choreography.

“Are you dancing with us, Megan?” She asked me (in Spanish, of course).

I said yes.

But by the end of the first class I was worried. Most of the women were already amazing dancers. As these beautiful Latinas twirled their way across the floor, I flailed around in back like a fish out of water.

Over the next two weeks, I became increasingly nervous. I spent hours in between classes trying to learn the choreography and no one seemed available to practice with me.

A week before the show, I went to a final rehearsals.

As the other ladies turned across the floor, I stood awkwardly in place. When they did a complicated series of moves, I got lost and ended up facing the wrong direction.

“You look confused.” The dance teacher told me.

Yeah… thanks.

It would have been easy to give up. This was NOT what I had expected. I felt humiliated and alone. My ego was screaming at me to call it quits.

But then my coach-brained turned on: What’s the bigger thing for me to learn here?

Since arriving, I had been trying to gain friends and connect with others by looking “together,” rather than by relaxing and truly connecting with people.

I was trying to prove myself by doing things “right,” rather than loving myself — and letting others love me — simply for me. (After all, this gringa with terrible Spanish and mediocre salsa moves was actually really nice, fun, and charming!)

It was exhausting. And I decided I would rather create success from EASE and CONNECTION rather than from PERFORMANCE.

So, for the next week, I asked for support as much as I needed it (especially when I felt like it was “too much”). I practiced laughing at myself and embracing “good enough.” I practiced not taking myself so seriously and keeping things in perspective.

From this new place, I got the support I needed and had a hell of a lot more fun. My fellow dancers helped me, rooted for me, and made sure I was able to get into my costume (those tight, frilly outfits are difficult to put on!).

As it turns out, being a demand for what you want is often necessity here! If you ask once, twice, or three times, you probably won’t get what you need. No one thinks it’s pushy. People think it’s normal. (Thanks, Universe, for the opportunity to endlessly practice standing up for what I need! What a great skill to strengthen!)

By the next week, I was somewhat ready for the performance. I knew most of the moves but — more importantly — I had the right attitude.

Making FUN, EASE, and CONNECTION non-negotiable turned everything around. And I got what I wanted: better dance technique, new friends, and a memorable experience.

Was my performance perfect? Hardly! You can see it here.

But it was good enough! And we’ve been invited to perform our choreography at the Hard Rock Cafe… so I’ll have another shot and plenty more time to practice.

Readers, Where are you taking yourself too seriously? Is it killing your ability to have fun and be present? What is the experience you really want?

Whatever it is, you can create it NOW! You can choose to assume the attitude that will allow you to have the experience you desire.

Don’t forget it, and don’t forget to…

Embrace the Adventure,

Megan

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