I had an idea for my next post, another one about climbing out of the comparison trap. I wanted to come up with a list of real things that I or anyone else could do that would help stop the comparisons and get back to a more positive mindset. The exercise in gratitude was ok, but I wanted something more practical and more concrete. When I am having trouble with a ballroom step, Teacher can give me very specific things to do to correct the issue. I’ve been stuck in this self-pity state for longer than I’d like to admit. I have plenty of excuses and some good, honest reasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m only hurting myself. I actually googled “how to stop comparing” to see what others have written about the subject.
I only made it through three articles before I gave up. Basically, the answer to “how do I stop comparing myself to others” is to stop comparing myself to others. This non-answer was disguised in advice like “compare yourself to yourself instead” and “recognize that we’re all on different journeys.” I’ve written similar things. When I felt like I wasn’t progressing as a dancer compared to others, I’d go back and watch past videos of myself to remember how far I’ve come. “I’m on my own journey” has become a mantra of mine that I whisper to myself when my demons start poking at me and pointing at what others are accomplishing that I’m not. It all boils down to just don’t compare, it’s only going to put you in a miserable state like the one I’m in now.
But how do I get out of it??
I was browsing my Instagram feed, wondering what else I could write about that wouldn’t turn into another episode of the Complaining Corner, and I came across this quote:
“You don’t get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don’t want to go, but go anyway. If you can overcome the negative energy coming from your tired body or unmotivated mind, you will grow and become better. It won’t be the best workout you have, you won’t accomplish as much as what you usually do when you actually feel good, but that doesn’t matter. Growth is a long term game, and the crappy days are more important.” Georges St-Pierre, The Way of the Fight
After some internet searching, I learned Georges St-Pierre is a mixed martial arts world champion and The Way of the Fight is a memoir of sorts (now on my to-read list!). All those blog articles spouting ideas and advice about positive thinking and I find my comfort in a quote about the bad days by an MMA fighter. I’m not surprised. I always have trouble relating to the happy/positive-heavy advice because it doesn’t feel real. Feeling depressed? Oh, just think happy thoughts! Feeling inferior because you’re comparing yourself to others? Just don’t compare yourself! Problem solved!
Georges’ quote not only acknowledges the negative side, but suggests it’s more important. You don’t get better on the good days. Those days are easier, so you don’t need to push yourself. You grow when you push yourself, and the bad days definitely require more pushing than the good days.
My crappy days have become crappy months. But I feel a little better about that because I believe what Georges claims: the crappy days are more important. With that idea, I feel like I have a bit more of a purpose. There is a reason for my suffering, if that’s not too dramatic. If I keep pushing and don’t give up (another mantra), I will come out a better dancer.
I’ve been running into a bunch of dancers, students and teachers, in the last few weeks who have all commented that they feel like they haven’t seen me around in awhile. It’s true, I haven’t been to any competitions, team matches, showcases, or workshops in months. I go to the studio for my lessons with Teacher and occasional practice with Ballroom Viking, usually at times when hardly anyone else is around. Sometimes I feel like I’m turning into that person who others occasionally wonder about. “Whatever happened to what’s her name?” “Oh, I don’t know, it’s like she just disappeared.”
I haven’t disappeared though. I’m just deep into a growth period!