Back in the day, we’re talking the kindergarten day, I took ballet.
My ballet class was at Mrs. Gatsky’s house. No formal studio. No sequined costumes or hours-long recitals. She had a studio set up on her bottom floor, which opened up to her backyard. More often than not, we had class outside. She’d lay out some mats, set up the ballet bars, and off we would go, dancing away to the beat of her hand drum.
Her ballet style was my ballet style: chill, which is an oxymoron, I know, when it comes to ballet.
There was one issue that made me decidedly UNchill. Squeezing my legs and nicely rounded belly into those God-forsaken pink ballet tights. I hated them. Having to yank them on. Having them constrict my belly. Having them itch my legs. And if they got twisted around on the way up? Faggetaboutit…
Tears, frustration, occasionally shouting, complaining. This dreaded ritual happened before every class. I was a mess. My mom was OVER IT. I loved dancing and loved Mrs. Gatsky so much. Those tights made me want to quit.
One day, I arrived red-eyed from having a fit over wedging myself into those stupid tights. Mrs. Gatsky asked my mom, “Why the red eyes?”
“She doesn’t like wearing the tights; putting them on and how they feel. It’s an argument every time.”
“Well, tell her she doesn’t have to wear the tights. She can take them off right now.”
With that simple statement, I was free! My belly was free! My legs could feel the air! No more itching! No more struggle! No more temper tantrums! No more misery for Mom!
I could dance freely, unrestricted, and express myself because I wasn’t distracted, aggravated, and uncomfortable in those itchy pink tights.
What would seem unthinkable in the world of ballet all of a sudden became feasible. The unwritten rule was thrown out the window. I was free.
At the start of this week, I felt like my whole body was wrapped up in a pair of pink tights. I felt restricted by my schedule and “obligations.” Much like those old tights, I asked, “What can I take off?”
I emailed and texted people I had calls with this week and next and told them I’d be available the first week of December. They got it.
With those managing-expectations-comms sent, I felt a sense of relief. Like after a long day, sticking your thumbs in either side of the top of the tights and peeling them down over your hips and the release that brings. (IYKYK)
We all have only so much capacity, bandwidth, and energy at our disposal. I’ve got the tendency to pile on and plow through. Clench on to the unimportant and non-urgent like IT HAS TO GET DONE RIGHT NOW. Which takes up whatever bandwidth I have left, sucks up my creativity, and causes me to have an old-school, tight-wearing tantrum. It’s not that sweet.
Not this week, though. I chose creativity and sanity over misery. Much like Mrs. Gatky’s statement, I told myself, “Erin, you don’t have to do it all.”
As Turkey Day approaches and the holidays loom, chances are your capacity and bandwidth might be feeling the heat.
- Is there something you are doing that you can say well, I don’t have to do that just because it’s always how it’s done or because those are the “rules.” Take off the tights!
- Is there something you have your team do that is restrictive or annoying that’s happening because that’s how you’ve always done it but haven’t revisited why?
- Could you share the pink tights analogy with your team and ask them–what’s something we could let go of? And do it. See, and feel the release.
- What is a sanity-making decision you could make that would make the next week of family frolicking fun and not misery?
We get sucked into the routines and way things are and rightly get grumpy and annoyed by things. Some things are just annoying and stupid. (Pink tights.) I can’t help but think if we all had a Mrs. Gatsky on our shoulder telling us to “Take off the tights,” we’d notice a lot of things we do because we’re used to doing them, we might just stop doing them, and we’d all be a whole lot more chill, content, and free.