Long before T.L.C. was synonymous with “Crazy Sexy Cool” (although I have been called all three before and that’s alright with me), it meant something else to me; something painful. Up until now, I have never shared it, never talked about it but it’s all starting to make sense.
When I was a young girl, I was never included. My sister was old enough to hang out with my aunts and uncles who are close to her age. My cousins were two or more years younger than me. It was an odd position. At school, I was the girl who walked to school, got free lunch and didn’t wear Guess jeans. (That might as well have been a death sentence.) When I finally made it to dance class, I only had “natural” skill. I didn’t make the cheerleading squad. I never took classes at Sammy Dyer or Mayfair (no matter how many years I wrote eloquent letters asking for scholarships). I wasn’t included in their special routines and dance clubs. I wasn’t in any cliques. Well, except for T.L.C.
“T.L.C.” was a special club created by me and one other girl. It meant “The Lonely Club.” We knew we were the outcasts. We pretended to be comfortable with it. The truth of the matter was it sucked. If we could have been liked and accepted, we would have been but there we remained, lonely, shut out and afraid to let anyone know about our struggles. It hurt. It really did.
And the memories of that are why I am in this business.
Can I tell you that I have a problem until this very day joining groups? I’ve resisted putting myself out there because the thought of being looked upon as “her” always made me draw up into my shell. I am an introvert (yeah, I know people don’t believe that but hear me out) just like my dad. Being around people drains me a lot of times. I prefer to be alone. But there is a feeling underneath all of that which pushes me to look more like an extrovert, like my mom.
It’s the desire to NEVER leave ONE person feeling like that. Because THOSE feelings are what keep people trapped in their hurt, especially in a situation where changing their life is concerned. Sure, I was a fifth grade and that was serious as my life got at that time. But I’ve also had that experience walking into a yoga class where everyone had special mats and water bottles and turned their nose up at me when I walked in with my do-rag on or a dance class when there were cliques and no one would talk to me or weight training classes where no matter how much weight put on, the people around me would try to kill themselves trying to “up” me when I didn’t even know them. Sure, people will tell you that’s your “perspective” but there is a community out there of people that can make YOU feel like YOU are the president of T.L.C. and it can be discouraging. And it can make you not want to go back. Or fight back.
And that’s why I’m in this business.
I want so badly to be inclusive. The only time groups don’t drain me (for the most part) is when I know I am doing everything in my power to promote cohesiveness and inclusiveness. It’s not a control thing. It’s an attitude of openness that people are willing to come because they trust “me.” I get a thrill by people wanting to come back and try again because they felt like they belonged. Sure I have received criticism for being loud, having loud music, having dialogue with my students in between tracks,
playing Ciara and Al Green in a yoga class and lip syncing to Whitney like I wasn’t teaching at all.
There is no “club.” It’s community. And it’s crazy sometimes. And cool. I don’t know if calling it sexy is accurate. 🙂
I’m working on opening myself up more. I really am. But there is so much beauty from the pain of that experience. Because of that, I can offer an open door to those who are trying to come in and change their life. It’s hard enough. What you are looking for and need is a friendly face, something familiar and a welcoming spirit. At least, that’s what would have made me stay the 100 times I tried to lose weight.