Sometimes I Just Need to Vent

I’ve been feeling very stalled in my dancing. This isn’t news. I have no competitions on the calendar, and scheduling conflicts all around have been messing with my lesson and practice time. As much as I preach a “don’t give up!” philosophy, walking the walk has been much harder lately.

I know others can understand this: my motivation suffers when I don’t have a strong goal to work toward. My dancing has always served as relief and a positive distraction from the stress in my life. There has been a lot of stress in 2016, but unfortunately, not as much dancing to distract and help me cope. So I get depressed and my motivation wanes.

I know I’m singing a different tune than I was a few weeks ago when I posted Dancing for Dancing’s Sake. Less dancing in the last couple weeks has clearly affected my mood.

I know I have plenty to be grateful for, like the success of my book tour (giveaway still going on, by the way) and my new-ish job that respects my need for work-dance balance. But I’m feeling frustrated and blue about still not being where I want to be after all my hard work, so tonight, I’m using the blog to vent a little.

The bottom line is I’m feeling lost and a little alone. I’ve started to miss my beginner days when I was going to group classes almost every night and my studio had monthly practice parties. I felt like I was part of a dance family. Now, a couple years after the studio went under and independent instructors took over, there are no practice parties. The new owners held an anniversary party a couple months ago, but oddly, there was no dancing. Group classes are an expense separate from my private lessons now, and they are mostly held around lunchtime during the week (I guess there are enough students who don’t work or have flexible schedules to support those times). The studio is a little too far away for me to get to class and back to work within my lunch hour. Plus, it’s difficult for me to switch my brain from work to dance and back to work, so I don’t retain very much and it doesn’t feel worth the cost.

When I first started under the old studio, the place was always busy at night. Now, it’s not unusual for Teacher and me to be the only people there during my evening lessons. I miss the comradery I enjoyed back then, when I was a beginner. Even if I didn’t see some students during the week in classes or having lessons at the same time as me, I would see them at the monthly parties. Nowadays, I can go weeks or even months between seeing people.

This leg of my ballroom journey has felt isolating. My financial restrictions have kept me from participating in events that would help me feel connected to other students. The studio where I take lessons has shifted the focus to a different kind of clientele, so for me, it feels less like home. Basically, I’m feeling left out. I’m falling into the comparison trap yet again, and I’m falling hard. While other students went to competitions or performed in showcases, I managed to find a little extra cash for some hip hop classes that give me something new to work on. I love hip hop. It’s fun and challenging. But it’s not ballroom. I haven’t been brave enough to try ballroom group classes at other studios, and my main excuse is most of them are beginning classes that just teach steps. It’s just not worth it for me to spend my money on those classes at this point. Maybe someone local will read this and be able to suggest a more advanced evening class?

You know I’m stuck in the muck good when even practice with Ballroom Viking is reminding me that I’m still alone on this journey because I don’t have a partner at my level to compete with. It’s like I’m stuck in the Swamps of Sadness (watch the Neverending Story if you don’t get that reference)!

I still have Teacher though. Even without a comp or show to work toward, he is ready with specific goals for each lesson. While I’m struggling to stay motivated, he hasn’t slowed down his efforts one bit. I’m incredibly grateful to him for that. I know he won’t give up on me even when I feel like I might.

I’m not letting myself wallow too much. I got some extra side work this past week, which means extra cash, and so I signed up for a smooth workshop at the beginning of November. I’m sure pretty much everyone else there will be preparing for a comp, but I think it’ll help me to just feel like I’m participating again, instead of being stuck on the sidelines. I also asked Teacher to look into another coaching for me. Like I wrote in Dancing for Dancing’s Sake, even if I can’t afford a competition doesn’t mean I can’t still prepare for one.

I’m not sure yet how to make myself feel better about not having an amateur partner. I’ve definitely reached a point where I’d love to have someone to share goals with, who is at a similar point in their ballroom journey, and frankly, who I don’t have to worry about paying to compete with me. As an introvert, I’m not one to go around to different local studios and actively advertise my search. I even feel weird about posting on Facebook that I’m looking for someone. Yes, I recognize the irony of me publicly advertising it here, but it feels different, less direct. I think it’s a fear of rejection. It’s one thing if I never find someone through here; the partner search is just one small part of this post. But zero responses from a direct ad would feel like rejection, even though I know finding a dancer at my age and level who wants to compete, hasn’t turned pro yet and doesn’t already have a partner is a tall order. I might just wait until I actually do make it to a competition (see, haven’t given up!) and keep an eye out for male students in my events. That’s how I found BV after all! Maybe it’ll work again!

I hope that wasn’t too depressing for you. It was weird to feel so down about my dancing while the book tour was going on. I think almost every review said something about my passion for ballroom clearly shining through the pages of my books. Yet here I was, struggling to find the motivation to practice, even at home. I felt like I was carrying this heavy secret, so I wanted to get it out.

I promise I’m not giving up; the enthusiasm is just toned down a bit. Thanks for reading! I hope your week is full of dancing!

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7 thoughts on “Sometimes I Just Need to Vent

  1. Steve McPherson says:

    I know the feeling well. I too have had to cancel all of my comps this year. But I have fortunately been able to keep a good lesson schedule. That is until now. For the next month I have so much going on that getting into the studio will be a rare event. One thing I have found that motivates me is watching a professional performance. I am going to watch the bYU dance team perform next Tuesday. And as you may remember, I attended the OCDSC last Saturday. Watching the professional finales gives me a ton of motivation even when a comp for me is about eight months away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Natalie says:

    You and I seem to have the opposite problem — you’re missing out on the group experience and I’m missing out on the professional instruction experience. Interestingly enough, both issues seem to leave us with the same feeling: frustrated. It’s hard to improve when I’m only working with other dancers of the same level as myself (we’re all intermediate Bronze), so while it’s fun to socialize and practice with my partner, I feel like I’m not moving anywhere — so your first sentences about feeling stalled were incredibly relatable!

    As for finding an amateur partner, there may be Facebook groups worth looking into it. On the collegiate scene, some of the comps have Facebook pages intended to connect TBA dancers (these are dancers with college clubs or studios who sign up for the comp without a partner — when dancers arrive early on the AM of the comp, the emcee tries to connect folks. Some of the FB groups aim to do this BEFORE the comp instead of the morning of).

    There’s also a site called ballroomdancers.com. I’ve used some of the free videos there before to help learn basic technique-y bits; if you sign up for a free account, I believe there’s a message board where you could try to connect with other dancers, but I’ve never used it, so it could be hit or miss.

    IF you live near a college with a big ballroom team, you may be able to join there? For example, UConn in northern CT has a MASSIVE team full of college students and random, local folks who are willing to pay dues for the semester to join. This means there aren’t just college students there. If there’s a college near you, they may do this, too — and you may be able to get that comradery there!

    Sorry for the super long comment. I totally get how frustrated you are, and I hope venting about it has helped!! 🙂 Hang in there!

    Like

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      Thanks for the tips Natalie! I know of ballroomdancers.com. There is also dancepartners.com, on which I have a profile. It seems like male dancers around my age (33!) in my area have already turned pro and are teaching or they already have an am partner from when they were dancing in college. At least that has been my experience so far. But maybe I need to do more searching on FB, seems like there are groups for everything!

      Like

      • Natalie says:

        I’m 24, and I’m starting to have the same issue — some of the dancers I know have also turned pro. It’s weird to scroll their Facebook and see pictures of them dancing in programs!

        I should have figured you’d already heard of that site 😉 You’re way ahead of me! But hopefully FB groups work out for you — got my fingers crossed!!

        Like

  3. lizzardthewizzard says:

    Wow! You have just described my experience to a “T”. Please know you are not alone. I am finding solace in dance videos. I look for technique videos, particularly Brooklyn DanceSportClub. I subscribe to DanceSportPlace and they often feature your Teacher and his partner covering a specific topic. Altho’ I am primarily a Latin/Standard chick, I am a fan of your Teacher. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

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