The falacy of “I can’t”

Good morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. Mine was quite awesome and sugar-filled.

I had an epiphany the other day, during Zumba class no less. Nothing like joyful movement to get those juice flowing. Here goes:

I was not blessed with the gift of dance, or athleticism of any kind really. Most of my cousins are either dancers, gymnasts, play sports, and are generally quite talented in the realm of athletics. Not me. I’ve said more than once that I dance like a retarded gibbon and my nickname in grade school was slow-poke. I dreaded the Presidential Fitness test the school put us through every other year and PE class was horrible. I was the epitome of every gym class cliche; being picked last for everything, getting smacked in the head with volleyballs, slipping in the mud while running laps…I’ll spare you the rest. Though sports don’t really interest me, I’ve always wished in my heart that I could dance.

Anyway, my Mom’s been trying to get me to come to Zumba for months now, and I always wanted to but it never seemed to work out. Last Saturday, the stars finally aligned and I got to go. I promptly took my place in the back of the room so I wouldn’t injure anyone.

I knew I’d have a blast, even if my legs got all tangled up and if I couldn’t keep up. I watched myself in the mirror and I realized that while I may not be super coordinated and I don’t pick things up very quickly, what I did pick up looked really good. What  I didn’t get right away, I faked. It felt good. I looked really happy, with a bright smile and my skin glowed. We can debate whether Zumba actually counts as dance, but I was dancing! Don’t get me wrong, I took a couple dance classes in high school that weren’t totally disastrous (beats regular PE any day) and when I did theater I danced well enough to hold my own (after months of rehearsal).

Then I thought, maybe the only reason I think I can’t dance is…because I think I can’t! I’ve always labeled myself as a non-dancer, but I loved to watch dance because it moves me on a very deep level. When I listen to music, sometimes I choreograph in my head. Sometimes at home, I close all the blinds, put on some music and let loose, and it feels good. Coordination and quick learning may not be my strong points, but I understand rhythm. I can be graceful. Through years of yoga, I’ve learned to better control my body. I can learn, I just don’t pick it up as easily as my cousins do.

Maybe I can dance. 

By extension, maybe I can be athletic. Maybe I can run and play sports.

So now it’s your turn.

What are you holding yourself back from?

Maybe you tell yourself that you aren’t creative (Wrong: everyone is creative. It’s part of being human) Maybe you believe that you can never be assertive, or never dress a certain way or never start a business.

Why do we tell ourselves these things?

Either because of a bad experience in the past like the junior high PE class from Hell, or because we’re afraid of failure and rejection. My particular insecurity with dancing and athletics come from a lifetime of self-esteem issues which led to disconnection from my body, and comparing myself to others. I never thought of dancing on my own level, I only considered it something for “other people” who were naturally gifted.

So, I challenge you to take a risk and try something you thought you could never do, whether you’ve tried it before or not. Take that painting class, join that community basketball team, dye your hair blue, or sign up for a dance class. You know what? You might suck it up the first couple of times, but you might enjoy it too. If you enjoy it, pursue it and you will probably improve. I once had a teacher who told me “If you are drawn to something, if you admire it, that talent is buried in you somewhere.”

There’s a dancer inside me somewhere, and there’s a/n (fill in the blank) in you too. Find it, bring it out.

Have a great day!


Posted on April 26, 2011, in Body image, Creativity, Goals, Happiness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am paralysed by fear and “I can’t” . . .

    But lately, I really have been digging deep and figuring out WHY I believe I cant do something and when I get to the bottom of it . . . it seems that the reasons dont really even exist!

    Its very freeing and really makes me excited about life and trying new things. If you “wait” until you are happy enough to do something . . . you realize that time will never come!


  2. What a great post!

    Congratulations on finding something new that you love!

  3. This was a wonderful post! I’ve always said that I don’t believe in “I Can’t” – I think it’s synonymous with “I just dont want to try.” Unfortunately, lately I’ve been falling into the “I can’t” trap a lot – especially when it comes to running and working out. Terrible, I know! Thanks for the reminder to get up and do!

  4. Hi – found your blog through the word by word series… I am a big fan of Zumba and definitely think it counts as dance! (Although my husband still isn’t sure what strange tribal activity I am engaging in.) Well done on getting out there and trying it! I remember when I was terrified of dancing before the 8th grade dance back in the day because I didn’t know how to dance. Turns out I did (although I’m sure we all looked ridiculous back then). The thing I like about dancing is just the pure joy I feel – there’s nothing better than going to Zumba at my gym in the middle of an otherwise sedate work day and jumping around, making a total fool of myself!

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