I went to bellydance tonight. That’ll make, what, the second time I’ve gone? Added to the handful of times I practiced with Mari and Brooke privately, that isn’t a whole lot, total.

I’ve gone back and forth on the bellydance issue many times. I always thought that I didn’t really want to do it, that I was trying to force myself to go out of some bizarre sense of obligation, but today I finally figured out what it is.

I was trying to do a “jewel”, which is two and a half side-stepping hip circles followed by a pose. I was having a hell of a time going to the right. Candy, one of the Alchemy dancers, was there for a workout and was doing the moves right ahead of me. She looked back and watched me for a minute, then said, “You don’t have to step out so far.”

I kind of spluttered, “Okay,” because I have trouble taking criticism, even when it’s helpful, but she was right. I was stepping out a lot. Why was I doing that?

Then I realized that I had a natural tendency to step as far as comfortably possible with a stable center of gravity. This tendency came from one of the ways I learned to move in kung fu: covering a lot of ground swiftly while maintaining balance. Not making large steps was extraordinarily difficult because of the muscle memory.

I did kung fu for two and a half years when I was in high school. I didn’t just go to a class. I (sort of) made being a kung fu student my life. It changed the way I thought about things, and it changed the way I comported myself. Kung fu stances are second nature to me now (even if I’m not as flexible as I used to be).

This means that when I’m trying to do some other kind of stylized movement, I constantly have to fight my tendency to fall into a fighting stance. When I’m in bellydance, raising my arms for a pose, I have to think about not putting guards in front of my face and body.

Combine all this with learning new, often difficult movements, and you can see that I might have a bit of a struggle on my hands.

The reason, therefore, that I have avoided bellydance is because it is hard for me.

It is extremely liberating to make this sort of realization. It means that I don’t dislike it, I’ve just been wussy. It means I have a challenge to face.

I have an enemy, and that enemy is myself!

But what it really means is that I can go spend time with my friends and not obsess over whether or not I like what we’re doing :)