I have a few minutes to kill before my 7:30 intro class tonight (y’all are coming, right?!), so I thought I’d address the Pole Dancing Blogger’s topic of the month: “coming out”–so to speak–about pole.
This is… interesting for me. On the one hand, because I teach pole, and part of my job is spreading the word about my classes and studio, I’m fairly open about dancing… in certain circles. My fitness and friends totally get it. A trainer I work with (I have a part time job at a fitness center!) has taken classes with my studio (holla, N!). And I’ve already written about a bellydance troupe-mate and close friend dropping into my intro class. Both chicas saw it as fun cross training and a great way to shake up a workout routine or dance rut. Risque? Meh. Please. Yoga can be more explicit.
My “real” job, though, is working in an office, writing about careers. In fact, I’m a huge hypocrite, because I give people advice all day about how not to mess up getting or keeping a job by doing exactly what I have done: having “inappropriate” stuff on their social media pages or god forbid, something like a pole dancing blog easily dug up on Google.
Go ahead, Google my name. I’ll help: “Cathy Vandewater” or “Cathryn Vandewater.” This blog comes up. As do rants about sexual harassment, crappy internships, and THEN, FINALLY, my career advice writing.
I’m not sure my employer would be pleased.
And yet, I kinda feel like this is the future of who we are at work and at home, because the lines are getting blurrier and blurrier. How do you keep everything separate? And if it’s all going to come out anyway, why bother hiding? It almost adds to the scandal factor if you actively keep it a secret, in my opinion.
So I don’t hide what I do.
I’m not exactly handing out my business cards at the office, but if someone asks where I’m heading after work, I tell them I teach dance classes. If they ask what sort of dance, I tell them pole.
Lucky for me, this has only happened once, and with a female colleague about my age. Her whole face lit up when I told her. Funny enough, she’d taken a pole class for a bachelorette party and had all kinds of questions about whether I dance with heels, if it’s hard to go upside, etc, etc. We had a very breathless conversation in the elevator on our way out of the building, and then that was that. She hasn’t asked me about it at work, and I haven’t given her my business card. (Although maybe I should… I’m a terrible, terrible businessperson)
My parents, on the other hand, have known–and disapproved– of my hobby and then eventual career path since my first pole class. But as much as I tell them about it, they’ve never seen me dance.
That changed during hurricane Sandy. My cell signal was out, and my mom Skyped me to keep connected. It wasn’t long before I was taking her on a virtual tour of my newly decorated apartment, then my pole, and then–because I never could resist an opportunity to show off–I showed her a couple of spins and holds.
Strangely enough, she wasn’t shocked or disgusted–she was angry! She didn’t like seeing me hang upside down by my legs. I got a very stern reminder that I don’t have health insurance, and if I have to go to the hospital with a broken neck, my financial future will spiral and I’ll die penniless and alone. Thanks, mom! Duly noted.
But even while she was yelling at me, my mom had the hint of a sparkle in her eye. She was proud. I’m sure she’ll never admit it, but I can tell these things. She also smiled when she said, “Well, you did always did like to play on the swings when you were little.”
(Funny enough, as much as I liked playgrounds, I hated firemen poles. Go figure.)
So I guess I don’t really have all the answers when it comes to “coming out.” But a teacher and friend of mine, Susan Shapiro, always likes to say “Live the most honest life you can.”
I think it makes things easier in the long run, no? And if not, at least no one can be made at you for lying. Hoo-ah!
But seriously, the more of us out there doing our thing like ain’t nothing wrong with it can only help reduce the stigma. It’s scary, but I think putting ourselves out there can only make things better for all of us. No lying, no hiding, no being ashamed. Pole or die, openly!
Anyway, I’m off to convert some NOOOOBS 😀 Anybody reading this who blogs, share your story too! I’m always curious how people manage their double lives… and jealous if they don’t have to compartmentalize.