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I guess I should start off by letting you know that I’m nobody special. In fact, I’m probably physically more inept than a lot of people. When I started breakdancing back in 2001, I noticed that there were different types of intellect out there. I made up some of them that made sense to me: Street smarts allowed you to read other people well, book smarts was how much actual information you can retain in your brain, creative smarts is knowing how to integrate all your thoughts for something useful, and then there was the dreaded physical smarts. I don’t mean using body language either (I think body language would fall under street smarts). Physical smarts to me was how much control you have over your body to do things. For instance, if someone showed you a few basic dance steps, someone physically smart would be able to understand what was needed and be able to perform it identically with the same rhythm.
When I was trying to learn how to breakdance, I would pick up basic movements moderately well, but dance moves quickly became more complicated. To this day, I mainly use simple movements whenever I dance. I would see my peers learning to do the more complicated moves way faster than I would have learned them. I didn’t have the foggiest idea why I was learning so slowly until the concept of physical intelligence came to me. I saw this in gym classes in the past. Certain kids just weren’t coordinated and couldn’t dribble a ball or run quickly. I was definitely one of those kids. I guess I’ll explain how I got through my physical ineptitude.
I think the brain works through repetition. Each of us require different amount of repeats before we get the message into our heads and understand how it works. This works with languages, math, history, etc. If you don’t repeat it for a while, it just disappears and you forget how to do it. Some of it may stick, but if you don’t do it for a while you’ll become rusty. While I was learning how to break I kept this in mind. I had to repeat or risk losing it all. Dance of course is like any other language in the world. The more you do it, the easier it is to communicate with it.
So I started practicing more often. What I lack in ineptitude I made up for in determination. It was frustrating to attempt the same moves over and over again without getting any results. All this while watching my peers were easily figuring things out and going onto the next move. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to catch up. To this day, I’m impressed that I stuck with it at such a young age. After years of practice I gained a better understanding of my body and better control of it. My body wasn’t really changing so I’d get a better understanding of what my limitations were in terms of distance and proximity.
As I continued to do the dance, I continued to push my body to see what it could do. I’d be able to lift myself and contort a little more. Some of the fun came from doing things that I never thought I was capable of doing. The satisfaction of knowing this was, and still is, amazing.
Now after so many years doing this I still am physically inept, but with less barriers than I used to have back when I first started. I still take a long time to learn new moves, but when I get them I genuinely feel ecstatic. I’ve finally caught up to some of my peers from back in the day, but only because they quit for long durations of time, only to come back now and again. They’ll occasionally come and explain to me how impressed they are of me, especially since they knew where I was at when I first started.
So for those of you that consider yourself physically inept, I say continue on despite your frustrations. I know it’s tough and it’s hard not to compare yourself with others, but really those people shouldn’t matter. You should keep going if you love what you do. The satisfaction of getting those small goals is worth the journey. You’ll thank yourself eventually.