The release of my interview with FloDance on Saturday got me thinking about my journey so far in ballroom and as the Girl with the Tree Tattoo. It’s incredible to look back and see how much I’ve changed. A couple years ago, I would have been privately excited and proud of an interview like this, but outwardly I would have hid that excitement and felt embarrassed and almost guilty for “bragging” by sharing the video. Bragging in my head is a bad thing, something to be ashamed of, and calling attention to myself feels like a form of bragging. I still get squirmy about having attention on me, but the cool thing that’s happened is I’m realizing that it’s not really about me. It’s about the message I’m trying to convey to the world.
I always hated anything that required me to grab the spotlight. Whether it was giving a speech in school, going to a job interview, or even performing in dance, it has always been INCREDIBLY difficult for me to stand up and be like “hey everyone! Look at me!” when my instinct is to hide in the shadows. Heads do not turn when I walk into a room because I sneak in through a side door and hang out for 10 minutes before someone notices and says “oh hey, when did you get here?”
Things have changed though. I created The Girl with the Tree Tattoo and like I said in my interview, she became this persona that I wanted to use to inspire others. As I experienced the amazing effects of ballroom dancing, I found a purpose in wanting to help others experience the same thing.
Well, if I’m going to inspire, I have to let people know I’m here. Especially in today’s busy and noisy world, I have to stand up and shout “look over here!” But instead of saying, “hey look at me,” I’m saying, “hey, look at what I’ve experienced or created.” I know if I draw attention to the work I’ve done, whether it’s a blog post like this one or an interview with another media outlet, there’s a chance that someone will see it and be inspired or encouraged. There’s a possibility that lives will be touched in a positive way. Which is awesome!
So I’m making peace with my demons who made me feel shame for even thinking about stepping into the spotlight by recognizing that it’s the only way I’m going to fulfill my purpose. I want to be a CONFIDENT and JOYFUL dancer, free of the effects of my fears and doubts, and I want others to be that too. The fears and doubts never really go away, but I know it’s possible to develop enough strength, experience and knowledge to not feel their effects. I know if I can do it, others can do it.
I’m not going to feel embarrassed or ashamed to shout out to social media that I was interviewed by FloDance because it’s one more way for me to get that message out to the world. That desire to connect with others and to help them become more confident and happier dancers is stronger than my fear of the spotlight or shame for calling attention to myself.
After watching the interview, I also realized I wanted to add something. I want us all to be confident and joyful dancers, as ourselves.
2018 is going to be a big year for me. I have a lot of plans to take huge steps forward in my dancing and my writing. I think it’s also going to be a year that I really take ownership of who I am, even if that doesn’t quite fit into the mold of “dancer” or “writer.”
I’ll share an example. Teacher and I have been talking about a new dress for competition. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ve seen plenty of pictures and video of me in a pink backless dress. I’ve worn that same pink dress to every competition, except my first. I love the dress! I love how it feels and moves. I love how my tattoo looks in it. Plus I don’t have the funds to buy a new dress and it didn’t make sense to me to rent when I already had a dress, so I never felt the need to change it. Nevertheless, after Embassy Ball, Teacher thought it might be time to consider other options. Ok sure, a change might be nice.
One change that more than one person has brought up to me was wearing a dress with a sheer back. They thought it’d be great because you could add rhinestones to the sheer material to decorate my tree and really make it part of the costume. It would also make it less “shocking” to the more traditional or old-school judges.
That’s a nice thought, but I’m gonna say thank you, but no. Any sheer material will definitely make my tattoo part of the costume because it will end up blending the tattoo into the costume, so you won’t be able to tell what you’re seeing. Adding rhinestones will just cover it up even more. I don’t want to cover my tattoo. I appreciate Teacher and others for trying to provide a compromise, something that will still sort of allow me to show off my tattoo but also make the judges happier and perhaps more comfortable. The problem is I don’t want to compromise.
I’m going to be stubborn here, because I AM the Girl with the Tree Tattoo. She’s part of who I am and I’ve always said that if I was going to go out on a dance floor, it had to be as ALL of me. I love ballroom dancing with all my heart. I have great respect for the industry and the people in it. This art/sport makes my soul feel happy and free. So hiding one part of me to better fit what others define as a ballroom dancer feels like a contradiction. Ballroom dancing is what helped me discover this part of me in the first place!
So I won’t be covering my tattoo. If I get a new dress, it will be with a dressmaker who understands the importance of maintaining my own identity as a ballroom dancer.
You’re probably going to hear a lot more of this “own who you are as a dancer” stuff from me in 2018 because I think it is just the thing that is going to take me to the next level. The more I own who I am as a dancer, the more comfortable, confident and joyful I’ll be. In that state, I’ll be able to give my most amazing performances on the dancefloor for myself and my partner, and you guys, my awesome audience!
So along with what I said in my interview – I want to help you become a more confident and joyful ballroom dancer – I also want to help you to be you as a dancer. The Girl with the Tree Tattoo is the dancer inside me. I want you to find the dancer inside you.
With that said, I hope you have a fabulous week. Happy dancing!