Yesterday morning on my run, somehow we ended up talking about girls (particularly young ones) participating in organized dance. The general consensus was that it wasn't a good thing. They were required to wear their warm-ups at all times at competition if they weren't performing because their outfits were essentially inappropriate. My friend was talking about how he pulled his daughter out when one of their routines (at age 8) essentially involved twerking. I'm sure there are different programs in different parts of the country (and likely even in Dallas) that are perfectly appropriate, but from my running buddy's perspective as it related to his daughter, this was not.
I'll also say for the record that at my last job, my coworker's daughter was super into dance (and then drill team) and somehow I got talked into going to one of her daughter's weekend competitions and I dragged my husband along. His comment to me afterward was that he was concerned he'd been placed on some pervert watchlist for even being there. He found the whole thing hyper-sexualized and inappropriate and he said if I went to another one, he was absolutely not joining me.
But I actually wasn't writing about dance. (I should add as a final point re: dance that I wished more than anything as a child that I'd gotten to take fun dance classes and wear make-up. A few years of ballet in my early childhood weren't even close to enough to compensate for my awkwardness, and ballet wasn't "fun" or "cool." When I got older, junior high and high school, I so wished I could have been on a drill team or something like that with all the cool and pretty girls, for which years of dance competitions was essentially a prerequisite.)
Anyway, my friend was saying that his daughter didn't really care that he pulled her out of dance. She bounced into soccer and then gymnastics. He said he guessed she wouldn't be in gymnastics long term because she just won't have the build to do well. We discussed whether he'd try to get her to run and/or do cross-country or track at some point. He said that really, it's all about what her friends were doing. She's content as long as she's with them. They're all doing gymnastics together now and she loves it at least as much as she loved the dancing.
At that point in the conversation, I thought (and likely said) that I feel like I'm not that different from his 8 year old daughter -- the main reason I'm up and running in the horrendous cold (well, by my standards), in the dark, and at 5:15 in the morning, is because my friends are there. And the main reason I go to boot camp with such regularity is because my friends will be there.
I remember all those times my mom said something along the lines of, "well, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?" Ha, mom, maybe. Especially if jumping off the cliff is something like bungee jumping. Bottom line is that I feel very lucky right now to have an awesome running group and boot camp crew that keep me getting out there on cold mornings when all I want to do is stay in bed. They take the place of the need for internal motivation AND they bring all those good things into my life that come with a strong network of friends from all different walks of life. Feeling lucky.