My dance teachers always encouraged us to stretch every day, especially during summer break. "Use it or lose it!" they'd say.
Well, I didn't listen. Twelve years of lessons, and every year I swam in the pool and played computer games all summer instead. For the last three years I danced, I'd make an effort for the first few weeks to stretch at least 20 minutes a day, because I was determined to be a dance teacher, and that's what teachers did. I was determined that that year wouldn't be like all the others.
But they were.
To this day, my adult self is furious with my kid self for making the decision to not try every year. You'd think I would have learned. The first week back was always brutal. We'd all laugh at ourselves as we wobbled gracelessly into our stunted splits, 6 o'clocks and straddles. Our kicks were a foot shorter than they were just over two months ago. We couldn't move the next day. But it didn't bother me as much as it should have.
See, dance was like school: I was naturally competent enough that I could stand out from my peers with zero effort, so my not-quite-developed brain thought it would work out the same way when I was adult. I longed to be seen as exceptional, but in the adult art world no one's going to see your "good enough" and mistake it for exceptional.
Now I'm sitting here, noting the obvious differences between two months without stretching as a 14-year-old and four YEARS as a grown woman. I tried a simple front kick the other day, with my right leg of course, because my right side was always more flexible. (I never gave my left the same attention.) Needless to say, I did not have to worry about hitting myself in the face like I used to. I barely got above my hip, and the fact that it hurt even a little to get that far made me want to die right there.
I don't want to be a dance teacher anymore. I just want to risk breaking my nose with own thigh again.