I realized that it’s been over a week since I last posted. Sorry about that! I’ve had a lot on my mind, but didn’t have anything concrete enough to put into words. I didn’t want to leave you hanging though, so I’ve done my best to form some hopefully readable sentences.
I tend to go through waves as I contemplate issues – hope and despair, determination and exhaustion. You know, the usual. I share my struggles with you so you know you’re not alone, but I also want to give you some light at the end of the tunnel. Not sure I’ve found that yet, but writing often helps me reach a solution. So let’s see what happens!
If you follow the Girl on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen a throwback Thursday post of a blog article I posted about a year ago, when I was counting down the days until I competed at the United States Dance Championships. I was going for the title in bronze smooth and debuting my silver smooth. It would be the first half of my bronze swan song. The second half would be at Ohio Star Ball where I would compete in the Best of the Best event at the bronze level, having qualified at California Open earlier in the year. I had worked hard on my dancing and even harder to save the ridiculous amount of money I needed to do two big away competitions only a couple months apart. And then this happened.
Almost a year later, I find myself taking frequent trips down memory lane. I still haven’t regained the momentum I lost, and I don’t see the solution yet. As a competitive ballroom dancer, I have achieved very little over the last year. I entered one local competition and danced a minimal number of entries. I placed first and second, but those marks only really mean something, if anything, until the next comp. And there have been many competitions since then. I suppose I should take credit for maintaining high placements, since that local comp was my first time competing at the silver level. But even as one who has consistently placed high when she does compete, I feel like I’ve faded into the background simply because I haven’t been present at any recent comps. You can only win if you play the game. So it’s hard to think like a champion like in my #TBT post.
As a student, I have achieved more; I’ve progressed in both smooth and rhythm at the silver level. I’m starting to be able to feel what my body is doing and make tiny tweaks and corrections when I’m supposed to, which has been amazing. Work on styling doesn’t trigger the anxiety attacks it used to, although I still feel my chest tighten when Teacher tells me he wants me to work on facial expressions.
As a writer, I’ve kicked butt over the last year! I published two books (plus the free How to Cope with Loss download that will fill you in on the rest of the USDC/Ohio Star Ball story) and, before this past week, I was consistently posting on this blog! The Dance Diaries books are going on tour in September. That’s exciting! Plus through all this, I’ve connected with a lot of amazing people pursuing their own dancing and/or writing passions. Definitely feeling accomplished in this department!
So on one hand, things went horribly awry this past year. On the other hand, I’ve experienced a lot of success! Just not in the way I expected.
I know the key is to focus on what I have accomplished, instead of what I feel I’ve missed out on. People are preparing for Embassy Ball right now, which was the comp Teacher was supposed to dance in the day after he broke his wrist. My trip to USDC was happening the following week. A lot of students didn’t get to dance at Embassy, but they’re getting their second chance now. Letting the demons control my thinking, I feel like I’m not getting my second chance, which feels unfair of course and also makes me feel less significant as one of Teacher’s students. That’s an old demon – if I’m not one of the competing students, then I don’t matter as much.
If I stop letting my demons take over, then I stop comparing myself and recognize everything I’m doing instead. Like learning a second style and publishing two books!
The biggest trick your demons will play on you is getting you to compare yourself to others. It’s one thing for me to watch a professional couple dance, see the differences compared to my dancing, and use them to motivate myself to work hard to improve. In that instance, the comparison can be inspiring. But getting down on my own skill because it isn’t as advanced as another student who has been dancing longer or feeling inferior to a student who just happens to be in a better financial position only puts up more obstacles on my own path. It’s funny how we can focus in on what others have that we don’t, but we ignore what we have that they don’t.
I’ve read over and over again that one of the keys to happiness is to not compare yourself to others, and I know it’s true.
I’m sure the next couple weeks as we get closer to Embassy and USDC will be full of more emotional rollercoasters. I promise to stay determined and hopeful, no matter how tired or depressed I get. My latest comp goal was swept away in a matter of minutes, so who knows what could appear just as quickly that will put me back on a competition path. No sense giving up now!