“I’ve always had the feeling that if life is a test, I am failing.”
I don’t own property, and I’m not engaged. I haven’t been overseas with a group of other Australians on a Contiki Tour, just to come home and gloat about how I’m now cultured even though all I did for six weeks was hook up with a guy from Perth. These are the milestones that you tick off when you're from a small coastal town. It’s a rite of passage, and the fact I’ve managed to complete none of them is a Greek tragedy. Maybe just a middle-class white girl tragedy. These things are the markers for success, the keys to passing the test of life if you will. I understand that success is measured in different ways in different areas. Perhaps if I grew up in the Eastern Suburbs, it would be about owning the whole Upside activewear line and convincing people I’m a natural blonde. However, you can’t fight where you are from, even though I’ve spent most of my adult life carving out a different path for myself. But scrolling through Facebook and seeing everyone I went to school with becoming homeowners does, occasionally, get under my skin.
Towards the end of the year, like everyone else, I start thinking more about my life. Am I successful? Why do I spend so much money on shoes? Why do I have a girlfriend on Facebook that posts pregnancy photo shoots with ‘Yummy Mummy,’ written on her stomach with a sharpie? - the big questions. It is normal. It is human. But I always feel like I have never quite measured up to who I think I should be.
For instance, I had plans to become a vegan this year. That did not happen because on New Year's Day when I was very hung-over, I ate a Big Mac and thought, “ehh maybe next year then!”. I also had plans to stop getting drunk and screaming “On me babe!” to a girl I just met in a bathroom as I buy her drinks I cannot afford. Those plans fell through at about 12:01. So, the idea of ‘Test Week’ at Sky Sirens was beginning to make me feel a little bit anxious. Okay, maybe a lot anxious. I feel I’m not very good at passing tests. I haven't even got my license, even after crying when the instructor asked me to reverse park.
I know life isn’t a test, success is impossible to define and it varies. Although I think I’m getting better at understanding what kind of success I want. A loving family, some good shoes (Gucci loafers, thanks, or anything with glitter), to be able to do work that I am proud of, and live in an apartment that is not entirely tiled like a giant bathroom (like my last place, although I do miss hosing it down).
“I’m beginning to understand that what is most important isn't your material status,
or how much you’ve travelled, or how much property you own.”
So far the only property I own is a piece of sidewalk in Surry Hills that I wrote my name in while the concrete was drying. Iconic! I plan for it to be the photo for my first book cover, me standing next to it, wearing a big hat and big sunglasses. The book will be called “There’s Something About Mary”, and it will likely end in me being sued by Ben Stiller, or whoever made that movie. Don’t panic. My sister is a lawyer; you should only panic if you are my sister. I regularly drain her for legal advice like "What’s the max I would get for shoplifting Gucci loafers?.”
Still, I was nervous about Week 7. The class started as usual with a warm-up, and I was immediately faced with reality. I forgot to shave my bikini line, my bare feet also horrified me - I need a pedicure, so business as usual for me. You could feel the nervous vibe. A few babes in my class even voiced their various concerns over “The Test.” Our instructor Rose calmly explained that it wasn’t a big scary test. There was no pass or fail, it was only about understanding your abilities. If you want to enrol next semester, you will be in a class that best suits your ability and is best able to help you improve. You wouldn't want to enrol in Pearls, the next level up, without mastering Babydoll. You want to nail the basics because they are the foundations for everything else.
So I took a deep breath and did the test. Of course, the test isn’t anything like tests in school. There’s no need for complete silence, and I didn't have the answers written on my upper thigh (because if a teacher ever noticed, they were often too scared to bring it up). Rose would call out moves, then we would all attempt them. I say attempt, because for me, it was just an attempt. Some of my classmates were slaying the moves. It was terrific to get a chance to see everyone’s improvements. I enjoyed the fact everyone just made the movements together, so you aren't being stared at while you try. That always makes me nervous.
After a few attempts at tricks, everyone seemed to relax into it, and I think we all kinda forgot we were being examined. Everyone was laughing and chatting in between moves or sometimes during a movement. I attempted to talk to someone while moving around the pole and knocked my knee very hard into the pole. A firm reminder that I am not ready to multi-task, I am no triple threat.
Rose asked us who wanted to move up to the next level, Pearls. I explained I didn’t want to move up yet because I wasn’t ready. I’m not being humble, I’m very much not ready. My leg still loses contact with the pole constantly, and I seem to slam my crotch into it far too often to ever be considered graceful. Even though I am aware I need more practice, there’s always a twinge of disappointment that unlike some of your classmates you aren’t ready to move forward. I know that I actually wouldn’t want to step up to Pearls because I’m just not ready, but it can hit the ego a little bit.
“It’s hard not to make comparisons. I do it in my pole dancing classes, and I do it with my high school classmates. I think it’s really human to want to feel the same as everyone else even if you know it wouldn’t make you happy.”
I would love to own some land, even though I know I would hate the responsibility of it. At least I know I don’t want to promote pyramid schemes like so many girls from my school year seem to be doing on Facebook.
At the end of the test, Rose said something that I found put the whole experience into perspective. She told us that everyone has their own journey with pole dancing and there’s no point comparing yourself to anyone else. It’s about you having the experience on your own. Sometimes that experience will make you fly through all the levels, and sometimes that experience will mean you repeat some levels. However, that isn’t what is important, what’s important is what you learn.
I think she’s right, and I think that applies to life in general. It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other people, instead of appreciating what you’ve accomplished. We look at other people and think their lives are perfect, but the truth is somebody could be thinking the same about your life.