Every little girl dreams in some way of being a Queen. Whether you grew up watching Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Xena Warrior Princess or Frozen, we all have that deep desire to be beautiful, worshipped and powerful.
That was NOT how I felt when I debuted as the first Australian Muse in the history of Rio’s Carnival.
Despite my 15 years of dance experience, plus 10 years of running my own business and dealing with all of the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur – the loneliness and isolation, the insecurities and failures, the heartbreaks and enormous stresses– nothing could have prepared me for what I felt when I stepped out into the Sambadrome that humid February morning.
TOTAL UTTER FEAR.
Experts might say that fear just stands for FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. Tell that to a girl with the eyes of the world on her – tens of TV crews shoving their microphones and lenses in your face, hundreds of photographers flashing their cameras at you, thousands of spectactors screaming for you to keep Samba-ing and singing, and your every single move being broadcast to 500 million people around the world.
JUST BREATHE GIRL.
THIS IS YOUR MOMENT – THE ONE YOU’VE DREAMT ABOUT FOR 15 YEARS – YOU DESERVE IT – YOU ARE A QUEEN.
NO I’M NOT!!!
What the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this? Not only did I part with my hard-earned savings (enough to put a deposit on an apartment) but I also set myself up to be criticized in minute detail about everything: my body (not Brazilian-looking), my skin colour (apparently not tanned enough for a Muse), my boobs (not big enough), my legs (not muscular enough) my make up (not thematic enough), my costume (not luxurious enough), my dance technique (you dance like a Ballerina – how is that a bad thing?!)…the list goes on.
It was all I could do not to fall apart right there in a heap of black feathers with the headline:
“MUSE GETS HIT BY A FLOAT WHILST HAVING A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN ON THE AVENUE”
In a moment of sheer terror, I suddenly couldn’t move. My 15 kilo feathered backpiece felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, my 6-inch jewelled boots were strapped on so tightly I was starting to lose circulation in my legs, and all the bright lights of the 1 kilometre Samba avenue were blinding me.
All I could hear was my heartbeat and the drums.
People were shouting at me to move, a 10-tonne float was coming dangerously close to hitting me from behind, but I was paralyzed.
WHY AM I HERE? I don’t deserve this. What was I thinking?
You’re not Brazilian, you’re not a Queen, your body isn’t fit enough and your dance certainly isn’t good enough…it’s funny how all the things people have said about you throughout your career come flashing back with such force at the most inappropriate of times.
Suddenly I remembered my family. My parents who had brought me up with such love, care and respect.
My mother who has always encouraged me to explore the world, study hard and reinforced that I could do anything.
My gentleman of a father, who with his kindness, wisdom and patience has supported my business endeavours and life choices (despite so many of them being total disasters!).
My sister, who has kept my feet firmly on the ground, reminding me not to get caught up in all the gossip, drama and jealousy of others.
My boyfriend who listens to all my worries, fears, failures and triumphs; who wipes away my tears and is my number one cheerleader.
My girlfriends who have supported my crazy dreams – progressing from corporate worker to business owner, from hobby dancer to professional artist, from innocent young girl to a (semi!) mature woman.
My Brazilian family – Helio and Bianca, Igor and Aline, Eduardo, Ana Paula and Fabio – knowing that I have a team on the ground in Rio protecting me and cheering me on is priceless.
My darling grandparents who gave up everything to migrate after World War II in search of a better future for their family. The enormous challenges they faced (starting with a 6-week journey on a boat from Holland) to arrive in Australia (from a very developed Amsterdam) to Brisbane, which had no running water, no electricity and minimal acceptance of migrants.
And finally my LOVE OF SAMBA.
Putting on my big girl pants, channelling the support of my loved ones, gathering all the courage I had within and remembering why I fell in love with this beautiful art form in the first place, I took my first steps into the infamous Sambadrome…
Have you read the other blogs in this series?