Fear is Not a Good Enough Reason

“There is no illusion greater than fear.” Lao Tzu

Fear is not a good enough reason. 2023 is an amazing year because this year TDS isn’t simply surviving the pandemic but thriving. That is thanks to the support of the students. Thanks to the positive things they have told their family and friends. TDS is strong and growing stronger. But it is also because of one difficult decision that I was afraid to make during the pandemic.

Toronto Dance Salsa, like many other small businesses, might have shut its doors forever if I hadn’t made the decision. For a while TDS shifted to online classes since we were all told to isolate. When possible, I even had outdoor classes where there was no touching. Then slowly, the vaccines started to roll out. Finally, the government said we could open! Exciting news but there were still restrictions. Only those who were vaccinated could join TDS.

And when I read this headline, I started to read all the policies. I wanted to figure out what I could do and how it would work. My face turned pale and I rushed over to my mentor asking for advice. Obviously, it was great news that we could open. Our bills would be paid and we could hopefully survive the pandemic. At that point, we still didn’t know how long the pandemic would last or when things would get easier. It was an amazing lifeline and I was so grateful.

But I had doubts. The cost was that not everyone would be welcome. On my T-shirt, and more importantly, tattooed on my wrist is “#belong.” If I opened and restricted who could come into the studio, was I saying that not everyone belongs – at least for now? It seemed so wrong but I understood the need for the precautions.

So I told my mentor that I was afraid. I knew the right decision was to open but I didn’t want to make the decision. He asked, “What are you afraid of?”

“How people will feel. That they will misunderstand the reasons behind the opening. The hate that I will get. I can see it all coming.”

Just like when I first took over Toronto Dance Salsa, he gave me a simple answer. “Fear is not a good enough reason.” Then he reminded me that 10% of people will always love you. And 10% of people will not like you and maybe even hate you. And 80% of people will be indifferent. “Don’t worry about the people who will misunderstand and hate on you. Don’t let fear stop you.”

When I announced that we were reopening, I thought it would be a massive deal. Funnily enough, most people didn’t care. My mentor was right. There were 10% of people who were incredibly supportive (thank you!). And a few very vocal people who did not support me. TDS got its share of hateful and false social media comments and Google reviews. But I understand their frustration. I was simply someone on whom they can release their frustration on. 

Here’s the funny thing about those fake Google Reviews. They were people who were not part of TDS (from other countries even) who were giving one-star reviews. I fought with Google trying to prove that they weren’t our customers. These people were simply angry at restrictions and wanted to lash out. They wanted to hurt businesses that were complying with the rules (temporarily) as we were fighting to survive. 

I couldn’t get those reviews removed no matter how I how much I petitioned to google, those reviews are still there.

But you know what else is still there? My dance school…

Restrictions have been lifted, vaccinated or not, everyone is back and I am incredibly grateful that I did not listen to my fears.

Don’t let fear make you play small in your life because you are worried about the 10%.

Don’t let fear stop you.

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