“So What’s Next for You?”

I get this question a lot when I’m at the studio. I ask this question a lot! It’s a standard “catch up” question among ballroom dancers to find out what event you’re working toward. But it’s also become an awkward question because my answer is “I have no idea.”

I’m slowly figuring out how to cope with not having a real answer to that question. I’m working on setting non-competition dance goals to keep myself busy and motivated (keep an eye out for an article on those!). Teacher doesn’t want me to give up on competition goals though, even if the next one is six months out or more. Usually encouragement and support from Teacher would boost my motivation to find any and all creative solutions to my financial dilemma. That’s how I managed to afford my 2015 comps!

But something is holding me back. And considering I just wrote about why I crave a challenge beyond just dancing, I want to explore why I’m having trouble motivating myself to find a new path to the fuel that feeds my inner fire.

You guys don’t mind me using this platform to psychoanalyze myself, right?

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Psycho-what?

 

I know one factor is my tendency to catastrophize things, meaning I tend to feel like negative events are worse than they actually are. Minor things affect me in major ways. I wrote in How to Cope with Loss, Ballroom Style, that I had to take time to mourn the death of the future self that was going to USDC and Ohio Star Ball.

The exaggeration of (how I am catastrophizing) that loss is that my competing days are over. I had one shot, and now it’s gone. Logically, I know this isn’t true. You don’t just get one shot. I’m still physically able to dance. I still want to compete. Teacher has already been to multiple comps with students; his wrist is practically healed. All I need to do is find the money. Easier said than done, but logically, it is a perfectly solvable problem.

Emotionally, I’m not convinced.

My self-preservation is kicking in. Disappointment equals devastation for me, and this fall’s disappointment was a doozy. I’m reluctant to put myself in a position to be disappointed again. It’s human nature to avoid things that cause us pain. But isn’t it fascinating how fear of pain can also prevent us from doing things that cause us joy?

At the end of the day, I think I’m still haunted by the death of that future self I was so very much looking forward to meeting. And without cash in hand to put toward a specific goal, it’s difficult to see the other future selves that are waiting for me.

What I’m discovering is I have great difficulty moving on if I have nothing specific to move on to. Or at least comparable. Going from lessons twice a week with multiple comps on the calendar to one lesson a week, if that, and no comps in the foreseeable future is quite the change and not in a positive direction.

Originally, after USDC and Ohio Star Ball were cancelled, I had planned on competing at Holiday Dance Classic next week. To have something new that can quickly replace what was lost is a HUGE help to the moving on process. That’s why people have rebound relationships. But Life had other plans, and my comp money had to be rerouted elsewhere. So no rebound comp for me.

Ok, it’s time to break out an extra dose of honesty. Something was still missing after I wrote the majority of this article. And then it clicked while I was getting ready for work – EGO! I hadn’t considered how my ego was dealing with these cutbacks.

In the four competitions I’ve entered, I’ve placed in the top three every time. Top two in the last three comps. I won three out of four scholarships. For a girl who always felt like a nobody, I was on the fast track to feeling like a somebody! And my next event was to compete for a national title! I was going to be a champion! It was like in the movies when the poor kid, given the right chance, rises above her circumstances and blows everyone away! Yeah, that was going to be me!

And then Teacher broke his wrist.

What the f*#$!?

I can’t deny it; the ego has taken a major blow. After all my wins, I was starting to believe people when they called me a “champion.” I believed I could win that national title and maybe even have a strong shot at Best of the Best.

But now I’m back where I was when I first started with Teacher two years ago – just able to afford lessons but no competitions. Except now, my ego has memories of the thrill of getting out there and of hearing my name called for first place. It knows what it’s missing.

So part of my problem is I was feeling special and now I don’t anymore. I’m not a champion or a Cinderella story, I’m just another dance student. My ego doesn’t like it, and my demons make me feel like I’m returning to being a nobody.

Yes, I know it’s all nonsense and I should buy some cheese to go with all this whine, but that is what the ego brings up.

I get impatient quickly when I feel like I’m trapped in some kind of limbo. But I know it won’t last forever. My ego is just getting a little pouty. Maybe more than a little.

Luckily, writing is another escape for me, aside from dance, and it also helps me process these conundrums and come up with plans of action. Sitting around doing nothing only encourages my demons to keep bruising my already wounded ego.

My current plan of action is simply don’t give up. 

That goes for anyone else struggling financially or otherwise who has had to give up some or all of their passion. Keep searching for those creative solutions. Explore all alternatives and possibilities. Bring other people in on the search. The struggle will make the success that much sweeter. If you need to take a break or just back off a little while you address other obligations, no problem. Just don’t give up. You can get another shot.

So what’s next for me?

I have no idea, but I know there will be something!

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