On awkwardness: Ballet fails and learning to sing

For those of us who were kids in the early 90s in Metro Manila, one of the few things you could do during the summer was either 1. take ballet lessons at SM for girls, or 2. take taekwondo lessons at SM for boys. I was a hyperactive child, and my mother really wanted to burn that energy out in the summer, so she enrolled me in the ballet lessons girls were supposed to take at the time.

It was a mistake. She recalls that every time she picked me up, she would see the whole class all lined up in the front of the class while I was in the back playing by myself. She was even told by the teacher after a while that I may have been better suited to enroll into taekwondo, and my mom felt so bad for the teacher, she didn’t enroll me in ballet the next summer. She didn’t enroll me in taekwondo however, maybe because that involves a lot of discipline too, and sitting around being quiet.

Growing up, I was never a great dancer. My hips never popped, my moves stiff, and I have always been self conscious on the dance floor. I never auditioned for the Dance Club even when it was the coolest club around, choosing instead to join the Book Lovers Club (I was so cool, even back then) where we could sit and read books while earning credit. I hated field demos, when the whole grade, or the whole school had to perform by level dance numbers for our parents. There’s even video of me during a presentation hitting the guy behind me at our third grade field demo instead of dancing. (To defend myself, I remember him giving me a hard time and whispering “Wow, great dancing!” very sarcastically the whole time) Any kind of movement in public I don’t much enjoy, as I’ve never grown into the movement or rhythm required for it to look any kind of normal.

But singing was different. I have loved to sing in as long as I can remember. My nursery school gave me the award “Best in Song and Rhyme”. I memorized all the princess songs from the Disney movies from tapes our mom bought, and we played over and over. I actually volunteered to take singing lessons in the summers between school. Singing was where I found meaning and until now, a way to express myself. A few times here and there I’ve even sang in public, and when I’m particularly stressed and/or happy, I sing.

So I consider myself very lucky to have found an outlet for my energy and stress, even now, and working from home, I get to indulge in the de-stressing as long as I’m not too busy or in an actual meeting. Even if my rabbits hate it, I have conditioned them to associate it with a good thing, as I bribe them with treats when I want to turn on the speakers they actually run to the bowl expecting the bribe.

So maybe I will never be a graceful ballerina, and the closest I’ll get are the cute flat shoes that I keep buying. But I have my singing and now my bunnies have it too.

So what were your awkward lessons you attempted growing up? Did you end up going the opposite way like me?

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