Poppy music seeped through loud speakers and her slender hips sashayed this way and that to the syncopated beat. Sinewy arms floated down, out and behind with flourish before drifting up a brightly polished pole. She mounted it with ease, spun, flipped and contorted as casually as one might take a stroll, before finally dismounting and nodding in my direction.

“You wanna try?”

“No.”

Is what I would’ve said, had I not been visiting La Femme Studio, a pole fitness class on one of their busier evenings. I would have gladly declined in loo of watching my tiny, lithe instructor show off her acrobatic and athletic skills. But pride raised me to my feet, nodded back and grabbed the pole; the same pride that goeth before a mighty fall.

Taking great care, I lifted my arm so that it was flush against the pole. The electric chill of it radiated through my arm and down, translating into a rush of adrenaline and a strange burst of confidence. Of course I can do this. Of course I can!

I elevated my left leg, pointing my toes “gracefully” and then heaved my entire lower half up and over in an invert. I’m doing it! I can’t believe I’m doing it! Oh my God—am I falling!?

From where I hung upside down, I caught my reflection in the wall of mirror opposing me. Yes, there I was, melting like a sad little drop of wax, forlornly down the pole.

I panicked.

I shouldn’t have.

I could’ve held the pose and sunk down with grace, pretending that I’d even done it on purpose. But in my attempts to readjust my hands or feet (upside down, I always get confused) I flailed and splayed and collided floppily against the floor; shoulders, feet, arms then back.

Janna. You idiot.

And I waited for the gales of laughter that would shatter the stunned hush and metallic ringing in my ears.

In its place however was a shower of unexpected applause from the group of woman surrounding me.

“What an amazing first try,” my instructor beamed and held out her hand to hoist me up, while my cohorts began to regale me with their own horror stories of times they’d tried and failed.

I’ve been back several times since. Each time I fall harder than the time before. But I’m not so worried about it as I once was.

You live.

You learn.

You rise up.

You fall down.

People laugh.

And every now and again, they help you to your feet, surround you with love applaud you for trying and remind you that everyone falls, sometimes.