It’s been six days since I danced at the California Open. The days following a competition can be challenging. What goes up must come down, as they say! The big emotions of an event like a ballroom competition (excitement, anxiety, joy, etc.) take a lot of energy, so I can feel drained and even depressed after the external stimuli are gone and the big emotions fade. I call it post-comp blues. I’ve dealt with this emotional rollercoaster after every competition, as well as some lesser events. Sometimes the ride is full of insane ups and downs; other times it is just a little bumpy.
So what about this time? I’ll call it a bumpy road.
Even if I don’t feel particularly blue, the return to “reality” is always odd and a little disappointing. Few people at work knew I was at a competition, and even fewer knew the significance of it. So it was just another day when I returned to work on Friday after two days off. Returning to a drab office cubicle after being surrounded by rhinestones, bright colors, dramatic music, and the general buzz of competition would bring anyone’s mood down.
An effective way to combat the blues is to distract myself by staying busy. If I can get right back into something dance-related, it’s even better. To help deal with CalOpen post-comp blues, I returned to the comp to watch and cheer on a friend who was competing on Thursday, the day after I danced. I had also planned to go to Teacher’s group class on Thursday evening and my standing private lesson on Friday, but that didn’t work out. Group class and my lesson were both cancelled by Teacher as he needed the time to recover from competing with his students and to prepare to compete with his professional partner on Saturday. I did go to a social dance as planned on Friday. Then on Saturday, I returned to the comp for a third time to cheer on Teacher and his pro partner. So there were a lot of dance-related distractions that helped ease the post-comp ups and downs.
But even at the social dance, though it was getting me back on the dancefloor, no one knew of the victory I had two days before. It was just another night of dancing as far as the other attendees were concerned. I felt such an odd juxtaposition between me and the other social dancers. When a lead wasn’t clear and the guy started trying to “teach” me what he thought I didn’t know about waltz, it was hard not to smile at the irony.
So while my mood hasn’t dropped all the way to the “blues” level, I’m definitely experiencing post-comp disorientation. My grasp on reality feels a little off. It’s strange to have these incredible experiences that the world of my everyday life is unaware of. It’s almost like a portion of my identity doesn’t exist 100% of the time. I’m not a ballroom dancer at my day job, or even a writer. I’m just another worker. But I am a dancer and I am a writer.
I realize that this identity crisis only endures if I depend on others to validate my existence and my accomplishments. I know I am more than an editor in a cubicle, even if my coworkers don’t. I am starting to believe I am a good, maybe even great, dancer, even if I trip over some of my social dance partners, who then think I could learn a thing or two from them.
The last thing that should help me realign with reality is a lesson with Teacher. I always like to debrief with him on the first lesson after a competition. It took a few days, but I finally managed to watch my videos over the weekend. I was pleased with what I saw, but I also have ideas now of what I can improve. I am eager to find out if Teacher has the same ideas. Since my personal growth is nowhere near complete, I do still appreciate some external validation that this ballroom thing really is and will continue to be a part of my life. It wasn’t just a dream, it really does exist. That first lesson back in the studio after a comp helps provide that validation. It acts as proof that the journey isn’t over yet.
Tune in next time for a look back at the days before California Open. Per a reader’s request, I’ll reveal how I make my final preparations for a competition.
Until then, happy dancing!