Trap-Eazy!

Transitioning from a collegiate/academic career to a professional career, as exciting as it sounds, has some hurdles relating to a person’s self-identity. Allison was a head teaching assistant at Harvard University, and for years, her dedication to help students has provided her an identity as the “go-to” person for whenever someone needed help with the class. And rightfully so, her students praised her for her ability to lead and teach in order to bring out the best in her students. However, after graduation, Allison realized that her days of helping other students with her Functional Programming and Abstraction class had come to an end, and it was time to focus on her professional career lit up under the spotlight.

Transitioning from a collegiate/academic career to a professional career, as exciting as it sounds, has some hurdles relating to a person’s self-identity. Allison was a head teaching assistant at Harvard University, and for years, her dedication to help students has provided her an identity as the “go-to” person for whenever someone needed help with the class. And rightfully so, her students praised her for her ability to lead and teach in order to bring out the best in her students. However, after graduation, Allison realized that her days of helping other students with her Functional Programming and Abstraction class had come to an end, and it was time to focus on her professional career lit up under the spotlight.

Ran off to the Circus!

Allison had once attended a friend’s birthday party at a gymnastics center, where she first tried trapeze arts. She recalls that while it was entertaining, it wasn’t something that she would practice regularly. After completing her Computer Science degree at Harvard University, Allison realized that she needed some additional outlet of self-expression besides sitting in front of a computer all day. Her friend suggested that she “run away and join the circus” – or simply… take some trapeze arts classes. Her friend mentioned that Seattle has a school that is one of the best in the nation (Emerald City Trapeze Arts). Justification? Some of the instructors at the school were former cirque performers, and still perform throughout Seattle. Allison decided to give it a try and signed up for her first classes in September of 2015 – silks.

Silks – Hanging by a Thread

The first class that I had the opportunity to observe was her silks class. The class involved a brief period of stretching before hitting the silks that stretched from the ceiling to the floor. In this time, Allison was teaching me the proper way to climb and wrap around silks. It looked like it was the new way to relax; by “slacking around” on silk!

Trapeze – Learning The Ropes

I stopped by the following week to observe Allison’s first class in high flying trapeze. Allison had done this before at a birthday party, so all she needed was a brief review before swinging. The class even involved her performing a “catch-and-release”, where she would swing on the trapeze and whip into another person’s hand before being dropped into the net. Just watching it gave me the feeling that it takes a considerable amount of communication, synchronization, and trust jumping into someone’s hands.

Continuously Climbing

Throughout the past few months, Allison has learned so much from her various classes of silks, hoops, pole, and hammock aerial arts. Beyond what is taught in the circus, she applies a core life-lesson to her everyday-life. When Allison served as a TA for her class, she was consistently on the end of teaching others new material. As a result of knowing the material better than others, she had not become accustomed to asking for help. By entering the workforce as a Project Manager, Allison had some apprehension of asking others for help. For the first time in a decade, she was on the end where she did not know as much as her co-workers, and didn’t know where to begin without asking for help. By delving into a new hobby that she had no experience with, she put herself in the position where she had to ask others for help. Circus arts was the first activity that she started from scratch in a decade. The classes helped her overcome her fear of asking others for help, making her feel more productive at what she does best.

Within the classes that I shadowed, I noticed that Allison has the passion for teaching. She’s always excited to demonstrate in front of the class, and ensure the success of her peers. She hopes to continue gaining experience in trapeze arts and eventually lead a class – similar to her TA’ing days back at Harvard.

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