Over time, I've gotten better, but I still haven't completely gotten over my self-consciousness. I still worry about what I look like, what others think about the way I look, how they will judge me, what they will think ... there are so many thoughts that swirl around in my head. With that kind of pressure, standing in front of a crowd isn't easy.
As I said, I have gotten better. The doubt is not as strong, and I'm usually able to set the nerves aside and just power through whatever I have to do - whether it's teaching or working out in the gym or participating in a sport.
The thing with teaching at the university is that before stepping in the classroom, I could choose my dress, put on my heels, and basically create a shield around me - armor myself with whatever I needed to not feel (too) self-conscious.
The good thing with going to the gym is that the activities are usually isolated. You just go about your routine and you don't have to pay attention to what others are doing/saying/looking at. Plus, once again, you wear what you need to feel comfortable.
I had to really think (more than) twice before starting Jiu-Jitsu because not only did it involve close contact with others, but it also involved using my body -- I mean really using my body, to twist and turn, to lift people off me, to climb on top of others. I mean it was ALL body.
Just like my passion for teaching helped me push past the self-consciousness and get my job done, my passion for fitness and Jiu-Jitsu helped me push past the negative, doubtful thoughts and get in the gym/on the mats and pursue my interest. I didn't want my mindset to get in the way of any potential progress.
Yesterday I was put to the ultimate test when I taught my first adult's Jiu-Jitsu class. There I was, standing in front of a group of 20 people (all men!!), in my white Gi (which I've always had issues with & it's totally unflattering), teaching one an actual martial arts class -- how did that happen? How did I go from a university lecture hall to a Jiu-Jitsu mat?
I was so nervous leading up to my lesson that I had to have a stern talk with myself -- I can't be nervous about everything!! I have to focus on just one thing and let the other anxieties go.
The main goal was to teach the class -- so I focused on the lesson.
That meant letting go of any general nervousness of speaking in front of others, letting go of any unease of wearing my Gi, letting go of any doubt I had about my abilities, and most of all, letting go of any self-consciousness of my body. It was not easy! Seriously - bending over, falling backwards, and sprawled all over the mats rolling around ... ya, just a tiny bit different from wearing heels and a dress standing in front of a lecture hall!
I was up there for the students to teach a lesson -- and that's what I did. It was a tough lesson to teach -- mainly because there were lots of details to cover in a short period of time. However, it went well. The students were amazing - attentive, supportive, and -- they totally shocked me at the end when they gave me a huge round of applause. I was so touched. It was awesome! It was a great (scary) first experience, but it taught me so much. I'm so thankful to our head instructor Ben for supporting me and being by my side (and being the perfect 'Bad Guy' in the demos). I have lots to work on before getting on the mats again to teach, but I'm looking forward to the challenge :)