"Fuck You"! That’s what I wanted to shout in my Zumba class today. I always tell my younger son to stop looking for evidence of love and here I am, an adult, a professional, looking intently at every one of my students for evidence that they’re enjoying the class. And after a number, when the applause is half-assed, or instead of smiling faces I see blank ones, I start to break down. I turn into a stone-faced, steely-eyed, scary mother-fucker. Then, I think better and put on a half-smile shrugging to myself that this doesn’t matter. But, it does! It does matter that I look for love and acceptance and that I get it especially if I’m the one in front giving people my all.
If I’m being truly honest, people disappoint me all the time. I taught my last Aqua Zumba class last Friday to a group of great people. Yes, my announcement to stop teaching was abrupt considering I’d been teaching for over eight years and I had been gone for four weeks over the summer and then I came back to reveal, “tada,” I’m giving you two weeks notice. Maybe, some of them took it personally or maybe they just don’t give a fuck about me. Which is it? I don’t know. However, on my last day of class, I was disappointed. It was one of my least attended class and the faces that I’d seen over so many years were not there. A newer student had baked me a cake and another had organized collecting money and messages for a card. I appreciated all of it, of course, but I was also eating crow at the fact that most of my long-time students were not in attendance to say good-bye.
I’m guilty of having put on masks my entire life just to “fit in”, be socially acceptable, be likable, be respected, etc. Name your reason, I had a mask for every one and every occasion. Probably, the biggest tragedy was realizing what I thought was my “true face,” turned out to be a mask, after all. And that mask looked like someone who is tired, resigned, and beaten down through countless disappointments and setbacks. I lived with that face in the confines of my home, in front of my family when I wasn’t performing with a different mask for others. And that sad, loser mask is the mask that I’ve put on to not get excited about life because, frankly, life has been a series of fucking traumatic disappointments. So, I get that I’m a big hypocrite on top of being a jerk to expect my students to take off their masks when my own is bolted on tight. I don’t have an answer for that. I’ve exposed my own hypocrisy and maybe, that insight will allow me to be more compassionate in the future.