The Journey
Entry Number One

By Jenny Powers

Pole dancing came into my life on a day four and a half years ago that would change my life forever. Walking into that room, I was so unsure, having no idea what to expect. When all eyes fell on me, I was embarrassed, self-conscious, so familiar with the feeling of being so uncomfortable in my own skin, always so aware of the extent to which I judged myself for all that I wasn’t, convinced others saw exactly the same lack whenever they looked at me. To everyone on the outside, I was a girl who probably had it all – the perfect body, the confident self-image, one who appeared to never struggle a day in her life with body image or her sexuality. And yet inside, I was living a very different reality. In truth, I did have the perfect body, with all the right proportions and curves that would define an ideal body in today’s society. And yet inside, it was so rife with lack and nothingness, full of places that I wished had been different…better. I defined my body by mistakes, places that I fell short, curves I wished had been smaller and places where I wished that my body was anything other than what it was.

Though I was always aware of the extent to which this pain was self-inflicted and the extent to which I was creating a distorted reality for myself, I was never able to escape. The punitive and debilitating voice of my own scathing criticism surrounding my body was always there, and so deafening in moments that I could barely breathe in my own skin. Hesitant to look in mirrors as I passed and resistant to turning on any light that would show my flaws, I lived in darkness, in both a very figurative and literal sense. Only able to see what I didn’t like, I felt trapped in a prison of my own mind and judgment, living in a very small prison of my own self-hatred. Even as I write this now, I am reminded of how heartbreaking it was to live with the pain of all that I felt. And that is also what makes this story so inspiring. As I entered that room on that first day of pole dancing, I knew something had shifted. There was space, openness, room to breathe and there were no mirrors anywhere around me to reflect back to me what I thought I was. Without these mirrors, I couldn’t judge. And without judgment, I could finally feel. In this world, everything was new. Having always been so concerned with how I used the appearance of me to define me, I was now lost. I couldn’t find my appearance anywhere so I was unable to use the same external standards that I had always used to define myself. A thin thigh, a flat belly, a smaller ass – these were the things that defined my happiness. It was all about how it looked to others, not about how it felt to me. And so it is in this world of pole dancing, that I have finally learned what I feel.

This journey has been epic. It taught me so much about my capacity to heal, to connect, to express, to forgive, to relinquish and to surrender. I have surrendered to this journey completely and it has taught me everything. It has been full of life and love and tears and heartbreak, and it has been real in every moment. There isn’t anything that I would trade for this experience as it has given me the place in this world to connect to my body on a level that is full of passion, commitment, sexuality and release. Every day, I show up for the journey, every day I learn something new. It all began with my surrender to not knowing what to expect. And this is where my life began.