Aerobics, and a Theater Dance Invitation
And So It Starts: Gardens, March 2, 2007

Shyness and Self-confidence

After doing aerobics twice in the last 2 days, and theater dance once, I realized that these are two places where the people there may not know how shy I really am (or at least can be).  On the other hand, people who know me only from my current church probably would be surprised at how un-shy I am in aerobics or dance.

When I was in the wind ensemble in the high school, you got to be a higher "chair" in your section by "challenging."  The band director would give you and the person you were challenging the same excerpt from one of the wind ensemble pieces.  You both would have a week to work on it.  At the end of the week, you'd both come in and play it.  Whoever played it better would get the higher seat. 

One time, I challenged another flutist.  I won, and she challenged me back.  I won again, and she made it a point to tell me that she could beat me but she had just been too busy to practice those weeks.  I suppose the intent was that I would feel disheartened or demoralized, or, at the very least, impressed.

My outward reaction was to smile politely and go back to what I was doing.  My inward reaction, however,  was that actions are better than words.  If you can play better, do it!  (Come to think of it, I don't think she challenged me again...)

She made the mistake of thinking that, just because I was shy and uncertain in the social world of high school, that I was lacking in self-confidence.  Musically, I'm not.   

Now, I'm more musical and mathematical than I am verbal (though, I know, I can write blog posts that go on and on.  This one might do that).  I'm no good at small talk, and I'm not interested in a lot of what is popular.  So, in many social situations, particularly purely social ones (say, like high school or church), I am definitely lacking in self-confidence, and shy.  On the other hand, in graduate school, where I could debate ideas, I could sometimes be one of the more talkative people in class.

I shouldn't be at all self-confident in physically active situations - after all, I was aways the last one chosen in gym class.  But, after 13 1/2 years of teaching aerobics, I've developed self-confidence there, and I can even can make small talk sometimes.  That self-confidence, for some reason, has spilled over into theater dance, even though I'm way behind the other dancers who've been taking dance regularly for years (and I'm years and years older than most of them).  But still, I can talk there too. 

About a decade ago, at Father C's church, someone we knew said that they felt comfortable and accepted in that parish, even though they'd never really felt at home in a parish before.  I realized that I felt the same way - unusually accepted in a church.  I'm not sure what happened to make that parish at that time so unusual.  It's a transitory parish, though, and very few of the people we knew then are still there. 

Other than that, I tend to feel out of place at church.  It makes sense that I would be shy at churches since I do church very badly (I've mentioned why in my post The Ideal Church Woman).  On the other hand, I'm not usually that shy in work situations since they deal more in ideas.  Then I get used to co-workers and can interact socially. 

There have been times when I've been teaching aerobics, everything is just clicking, everyone is enjoying it, and I have the fleeting thought, "You all don't know that I was always picked last in gym class.  You shouldn't be enjoying my aerobic class!"  But they do.

Of course, there has to be a song with this!  There are various singers who write or sing about things relevant to my life.  It's not the only thing important in a singer - after all, I don't always even listen to (or understand) all of the words of songs (this comes from my instrumental musician side) - so I like many varieties of singers.  However, Christine Lavin (along with Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Maura O'Connell) often sings songs that I can identify with.

Followthatroad_3So, here's a song for those of us, in Janis Ian's immortal words, "whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball."* And, though funny, a song that is totally irrelevant to those good at sports (i.e., if you dine with Greeks).

"Ballad of a Ballgame," by Christine Lavin, from (yes, again) Follow that Road (Highlights of the second annual, Martha's Vineyard, singer/songwriters' retreat).  To listen, click here.

Hey, Christine Lavin is 5' 1 1/2" too!  And she likes to round it up also!

*  From "At Seventeen" from Janis Ian's album, Between the Lines.



It's a shame that you and I weren't in gym class together. I'm not sure which of us would have been picked last, but we'd have been alone together for a few moments just before.


There are certain situations where the people that know me only in that context would not believe how shy I can be in other situations, and vice versa. Sometimes I wonder if I have a multiple personality disorder!

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