TANJA "LA ALEMANA"
Please help us understand your self-love journey. What have you learned along the way?
Tanja: My journey started as a child. Growing up in Germany as the only person of color in all of my classes was difficult. There was nobody I could truly relate to in my life because my father left when I was young and I only had my mother and grandmother who are both German. I never truly felt I fit in anywhere until I met my best friend (who is Puerto Rican and African-American) at the age of 10 in Florida, after I had moved to the United States two years prior. I felt like I fit in best with the Latino groups in school because I was never “white enough” to hang out with the white group and never “Black enough” to hang out with the Black students. Although I was friends with everyone, the Latino groups were where I felt most comfortable. One could say that my love for Latin music and culture stemmed from those interactions at such an early age.
Now that I am 32, my journey of self acceptance has been a long one, but one that I am grateful for. I have gone through therapy to deal with childhood parenting and assault issues that made me a more vulnerable and insecure young adult. I have grown into a stronger woman who values herself, not based on what other people think of her (especially men), but because she knows she is valuable.
You've been vocal on social media about its effects on your self-love practices. What can you tell us about the relationship between self-love and social media? How has fame made you think differently about self-love?
Tanja: Heavily engaging with social media and seeing the impact it can make has truly opened my eyes. By allowing yourself to be on display (which can be beautiful), you also open the door for negativity to try and creep its way into your life. I encounter nonsensical comments on my feed often such as: "She's gained so much weight!" "Wow! She's gotten fat!" "Is she pregnant?" "You shouldn't wear that outfit." In those instances I remember that nobody can make me feel bad about myself unless I give them permission - a saying I read a long time ago by Eleanor Roosevelt. The exact quote is: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," and I've tried to live by that. So, when I come across those comments now I ignore them. Though yes, at times I have "clapped back," I do so because people believe they can talk to another human being in such a demeaning way just because they are behind a keyboard miles away. Absolutely not!
I would add that it's okay to stand up for yourself when you've had enough, especially us as women. We are taught to always smile, never cause problems or "drama", and play nice. As I've grown older and learned more about my surroundings I've come to the conclusion that just because I'm a woman doesn't prohibit me from sticking up for what I believe in or defending myself. I've also come to the realization that the opinions others have of me do not concern me. I refuse to let other people's opinions determine my worth. This ideology is something I strive to instill in the women and girls I come across every day. As women we need to stick together and lift each other up, not cut each other down. Lastly, I would remind them that what you see on social media, isn't reality. Things that get posted are what people want you to see; it's usually not what it actually is.
Running a global dance company, I can imagine, requires so much energy and commitment from you. How do you manage to prioritize yourself? What do you do?
Tanja: Balance is very hard and I am still learning to manage it. The most amazing part is that I have two business partners who support me 100%. They make sure I take time off for myself whether it is getting a massage, taking a mini vacation after a long tour, or simply just allowing me to stay at home in my bed watching Netflix all day and eating pizza.
While I’m still learning to balance things, I am finding that having connections to Home helps my sanity. Speaking with my best friend of now over 20 years helps to keep me grounded because the majority of my days I am in contact with people who I do not know, but yet need to be very happy and friendly with. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
What would you say to the person having trouble putting themselves first?
Tanja: Take a beat. The things that are currently running your life aren’t going anywhere, so take a second to take a deep breath and close your eyes. Start by taking 5 minutes out of your day to mediate or at least just sit in silence. This will help elevate your mind to a safe and relaxed state. By starting to do this for yourself everyday, you’ll start doing more things for yourself because you’re reminded of how good it feels to take care of "you", and as a result you'll want to do more of it!
Describe your self-love journey in one word:
What can we learn from Tanja?
This globally-recognized powerhouse is a beautiful reminder that self-love is necessary and universal no matter your background or current status. Tanja's experiences with social media, though negative, call attention to the fact that we cannot take on the opinions of others as they are not reflective of who we are, but instead are projections of insecurity. For more on this mindset I highly suggest reading "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, whose rule "Don't take anything personally" reflects this same learning. Tanja's vulnerability empowers us to be honest with ourselves and ask, "How am I giving up my power?" and mostly importantly, "What can I do about it?" What a powerhouse!
Where can I find this powerhouse?
If you want to keep up with Tanja, her amazing dance routines, and her travel adventures, you can find her on Instagram and Facebook! Be sure to also swing by www.islandtouchdance.com for more information on how YOU can join the Island Touch Dance Family. Thank you, Tanja "La Alemana" Kensinger!
Who is she?
Tanja "La Alemana" Kensinger is the female energy and Chief Financial Officer in a 3-way partnership of Island Touch Dance Academy - a global dance company. She travels on a weekly basis, with her fiancé and dance partner, to various events around the world to perform and teach different styles of dance. Tanja also leads the “Touch The World Initiative” where her global franchise dance teams give their time to the communities they dance in!
Admittedly, I spent a lot of time in college trying to dance like La Alemana because I co-founded the first Latino/a dance troupe on my alma mater's campus. Part of my highest self journey as an adult has been "a return back to my body". Tanja's company "Island Touch Dance Academy" provided me with an outlet to do just that - return to my body. By trying to imitate Tanja's sensuality, I found my own again. I'm so excited to bring you this powerhouse profile!