One of the OULA truths that resonates in my bones is that OULA is a safe space to be our full messy, complex, wonderful selves. At a recent Empowerment Weekend, I was asked if all OULA instructors were musical theater majors. I laughed and explained that OULA instructors come in all flavors. My laugh was to make the situation light and also because I feared that I had been found out, my disguise blown. I’m an introvert with social anxiety and an OULA instructor. That might sound natural to some folks, but to my own ears and many others’, it doesn’t add up. How is it possible for you to shimmy and belt Lizzo lyrics in front of a room full of people, but then hide in your car some days too anxious to walk into the Studio to take class from another instructor? It’s hard enough for me to reconcile this “both and,” how can I expect others to understand?
Before I went through my first Empowerment Weekend to become an instructor, I tried to sign up three times, but always came up with a long list of reasons why I wasn’t “enough”—your thighs are too big, your voice is too quiet, you are too awkward, etc. I could fib and say that as soon as I clicked the button to sign up for training or during the Empowerment Weekend or even 5 years after that weekend, I never have those thoughts and am a secure, confident, badass. The truth is that those thoughts still visit and sometimes they are successful, but other times they fail and I feel fully myself as an introvert with social anxiety who loves nothing more than to twerk to Nicki Minaj or hold space while we all cry during a Sia tune. Both and. OULA has given me a model, permission and a place to practice living my “both and” surrounded by community. OULA is a space for everyone to live our personal and collective complex stories loudly on the dance floor.