Can you relate to this?
You’re working on a piece of choreography with your teacher. They tell you you’re doing fine but you’re holding back, you need to let go of your doubts and just go for it. Finally, you do! Your teacher is thrilled, and you’re happy and surprised. And then you freak out internally because this expression of power and confidence in yourself caught you off guard. Like a rubber band being stretched long and then snapping back to its original size, you have this urge to retreat back to a safer, smaller space where you feel less vulnerable.
I’ve had this experience multiple times in my dance, writing and personal development work. Brief moments of pure expression that are free of any preconceived doubts or expectations. Moments when I am simply…me.
The longest that an experience like this lasted for me was at Embassy Ball 2018 during the final round of the Closed Silver Smooth scholarship.
In that round, I felt both grounded and free to dance as me, for me. When we lined up for awards, I knew that I had won. I can’t explain why, but I just had a strong feeling that we placed first and would be taking home the World Champion title. Looking back, I think I was just tuned into my intuition because I was in a space where I had let go of the doubts, ignored the expectations of others, and trusted myself enough to let my own inner power shine through.
I’m learning that “simply me” is actually quite powerful in her abilities. Just by being who she is, she can inspire others and affect positive change. Her intuition around people and situations is strong when she trusts it, and her creations are magical.
Does anyone else find the thought that you are truly powerful just as you are, if you would just trust yourself, a bit terrifying?
Maybe it’s just me. When I finally break through that mental wall and have one of those pure expression moments, and Teacher is giddy with delight at witnessing my true potential as a dancer, I feel like the inner demons swarm in around me and pull me back, saying “Oh no, my darling, that isn’t for you. You need to come back here where it’s safe.” It’s like a bright light suddenly burst out of a gray landscape and dark shadows sprung up out of the ground to envelope it and pull it back down.
I’m grateful that my personal development/mindset coach is also a writer and is all about the fantastical imagery and metaphors because I can describe a scene like this to her and she gets it and can help me continue the story to a place where my light isn’t being smothered and dragged down, but instead it’s shining brighter and burning away those dark shadows.
This whole concept of self-trust sounds simple, but is in fact incredibly difficult to implement in a world where we are constantly being told what is wrong with us and what products and services are available to help “fix” us. Even in dance, I spend a ton of time learning what is “right” and what is “wrong” from outside sources and then reach a point where I’m supposed to be just “trust” myself to dance the way that’s best for me. Huh? Aren’t others supposed to tell me what’s right for me? How am I supposed to know? I’ve just been doing what I was told.
Trusting myself and believing I actually do have a great power within me takes practice and when I think I’ve finally gotten it, like my shadow position in Waltz, I’ll come back around to feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. But then I’ll start to get it again, hopefully at a quicker pace and at a higher level of understanding. The goal is to not stop trying.
I’m in a good position to work on more of this heavy mental stuff because I’m on pause with the rest of my dance training. I’m finishing up rehearsals for a group showcase number, but I’m out of a private lessons and won’t be able to buy more until at least mid-March. It made for a FOMO-filled week as my fellow students prepared for and danced at a regional team match this weekend. While my feelings around competition have definitely changed, I felt bittersweet nostalgia over the echoes of pre-pandemic life. It would have been nice to be able to dance, but as I’ve written so many times before, my journey is not their journey. The only thing to do is stayed aligned and focused on my path and not fall into that ol’ comparison trap. It’s not always easy. Like I said, the goal is to not stop trying.
Whatever you’re working toward right now, I hope you’ll keep trying. And remember to trust yourself.
Happy dancing, dancers, in whatever form is available to you!