From Timid to Confident

For some time now, I’ve wanted to share with you readers just how much of an impact belly dancing has had on my life. As I look back over the more than twenty years of my professional dance career and time spent teaching my students, I can’t help but smile while thinking how changed I am from the timid, insecure person I was in the very beginning. Not just in dance, but in every aspect of my life, and I’d like you to imagine my words as an analogy for most any career.

Those who knew me as a beginning dancer probably wouldn’t say I was timid and insecure from their observations, because I was also enthusiastic and very much taken with the mystique of the dance. I, like most of us, suffered silently. I didn’t know many dance steps or how to transition from one to another. I felt my figure wasn’t ideal. I had no idea how to put a costume together or where to find the resources for costumes.  What about hair and makeup? There were so many things I didn’t know, and I couldn’t help feeling intimidated by all those dancers who were so good at their craft. Does this sound familiar?

Take heart. Perhaps if I tell you what I did, you may have similar results.

First of all, you must learn that it is all right to be timid in the beginning. In fact, that trait is helpful. It makes you try harder, want to learn more. If you live in an area where lessons are taught, take as many lessons as you can. Subscribe to publications, read articles and order catalogs that offer supplies. Attend seminars and conventions that give you the whole picture of what you have learned in the classes, and more.

As in any endeavor, networking helps. When I first started going to seminars, I took the time to write to the teacher or guest of honor, ahead of time, letting her/ him know how excited I was that they were going to be teaching and/or performing. That way, when I got to the seminar, there would be at least one person whom I knew, and it’s so easy these days with e-mail. I was always surprised when they remembered that I had written them, but you see, people love to be appreciated. Many famous dancers, I believe, are friends now, because I took the time to make their acquaintance. And the wonderful thing is that belly dancers are really great people. They are eager to teach you the things they have learned and to share their experiences and ideas. So there is really no reason to feel intimidated. Make friends with other students and with vendors, too. After all, your interests are the same.

The more you learn the more confident you become. The more confident you become, the more relaxed you are and the more you can enjoy this beautiful art form. I’ll always remember taking a seminar with the famous performer and teacher, Bert Balladine when he held his head high and told us that each one of us was a gift of God’s and we needed to dance as though we believed it. In the beginning, you may need to pretend you feel that way, (I certainly did), but as you master each challenge, it becomes easier to feel the beauty of the dance and feel beautiful performing it.

When you feel confident and beautiful in one area of your life, it’s amazing how that bleeds into other aspects of it. Because of my experiences in the world of dance and the wonderful people I have met through the years, I feel I have become more interesting, confident, sharing, and even disciplined than I would have been had I not had the courage to enter in with love, enthusiasm, and a willingness to try. So put on that smile, lift yourself up and start on your journey. You, too, can go from timid to confident.

With that said, see how you can take this “dance lesson” and translate it into advice for writing, or for artwork, or for music or science, or whatever your interests are. And have fun!


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.





Filed under How To, musings, writing

12 responses to “From Timid to Confident

  1. I envy people with passions that bring them into regular, repeated contact with people who become friends and help them build confidence. Most of my passions are solitary pursuits or so varied and far flung that I don’t get those benefits. Bravo for being courageous and trying something new – and sticking with it!

  2. Joanie

    Yes, I echo what Sherrie said! Bravo to you, Sis! Unfortunately I did not know you when you began your career, but I know you now and you sure have come a long way! You are an inspiration!

  3. Beautiful, Coco! A great commentary on the dance. I, myself, am taken by ballet dancers (long story there…), and their obsession with their craft is the stuff of legends. You tell a nice tale of the personal worth gained by your efforts. Bravo!

  4. Susan Coggins

    Well said. When I owned the wedding planning company I hired belly dancers for wedding reception entertainment. It is a beautiful art form. I always thought of you as resourceful and talented.

    • Oh, thank you, Susan. Your comment reminds me, I danced for a lot of wedding receptions in my day. What a delight they were! I even danced for my own niece’s wedding reception, shortly after meeting her. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. You’ve brought back fond memories!

  5. Natasha Holland

    What an inspirational story, Coco! I miss you as my dance teacher! I first met you in class 16 years ago… And you know what happened during the second class and how it ended… Aliska got her learner’s permit last week!

    • Ha, ha, ha! Yes the staff at Auburn U. teased me that they had put a disclaimer on their sign-up sheet for my class. I know you meant to say, “what happened when you got home to your husband after my class.” Ha, ha, ha!
      Gosh, it’s difficult to think Aliska is so grown up now! She’s so sweet and beautiful and I know you are so proud of her. Thank you for reading my post and for your comment. It really made me smile!

  6. Love the belly dancing idea. I could use that. Menopause isn’t kind to women. I also can easily relate to your seeking self confidence. When I began taking college courses at night, I read a book by a social psychologist, Erving Goffman. It was called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Prior to reading his book, I thought my lack of self-confidence was cast in stone. His book literally changed my life as I learned we could become anything we wanted to become as long as we created our life. His theory talked about each of us as the producer, director, stage manager and the actor. I learned that, as long as I acted confident, my audience, the world, would believe me. As the audience believed me, that confidence would be reflected back. He called it the “looking glass self.” In the end, the confidence would become reality because me, actor would believe the audience. That’s a simplistic explanation, but is essentially what his book taught me. Good for both of us for never accepting what we were given to us as we fought for something else. Right on, sister!

    • Maribeth, somehow, back when I wrote this blog, I missed your comment. I just found it as I was reviewing my blogs. I’m so glad you found Erving Goffman’s book and that it helped you so much. You’ve come a long way, as have I. Bravo to us!!!
      Thanks so much for sharing this information with me. I appreciate it so much.

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