The response to last week’s blog post was huge! Clearly, I’m not the only one who struggles with reconciling my passion for ballroom with the cost. Before I jump into this week’s thoughts, I wanted to share another older post, which asks the question, “Is it worth competing if the game is rigged?”. This older post is for anyone who feels that their financial situation unfairly affects their placement at competitions because those who (can afford to) compete more get seen more. Familiarity can create an unconscious bias toward dancers who compete more often.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a bias exists or not. What matters is you and your dancing. If you can only afford to compete once or twice a year, do you really want to taint those precious experiences with worries about whether or not judge bias is affecting your results? Wouldn’t you prefer to take advantage of those few moments you have to dress to the nines and perform your heart out?
Whenever I walked out onto a competition dance floor, I did it with the intention of giving it my all in each dance because I knew how hard I had worked for those 8 to 12 minutes. I only ever danced 2 to 3 rounds because that’s all I could afford after paying Teacher’s fee plus hair and makeup (just makeup after I chopped my hair short enough to style on my own). They would be the best rounds I could possibly make them. I would hear other students talk about the single dances as “warm up rounds.” Not me. Every round was showtime.
Flash forward to the present and I’m still working through those financial limits. I’m not taking any lessons right now because the house needs a lot of work (it’s ok, she’s worth it). If anything has highlighted the importance of focusing on my own dance journey, it’s moving to the opposite corner of the country! While hundreds of ballroom dancers competed at Embassy Ball and USDC over the last few weeks, I followed up with contractors about various house projects. In between chores like mowing the lawns or taking the trash and recycling to the local dump, I scrolled through endless photos and videos of the events on social media. I cheered on friends after the fact and from a distance, and I’ll admit that I felt a little jealous.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve also enjoyed amazing sunrises and sunsets at my new home every single day. I’ve marveled at how peaceful it is here and watched with amusement as my dogs tried to decide how they felt about the wild turkeys that stroll past the house. In between writing blog posts, I’ve imagined what the stables will look like after I convert it into a dance space. I’ve been lucky enough to find a local fitness studio that holds Zumba classes that still fit in my budget. Once in awhile, I treat myself to some of the most delicious takeout pizza I’ve ever had from the town general store.
I miss my lessons with Teacher. I miss competing. I’m sad I had to leave just as I was getting to know some really cool new dance friends at the studio. But it’s hard to ignore how freakin’ beautiful it is here and how relaxed and happy I’ve felt since moving here. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows (though there is a lot of that). Managing the house projects is like a second (or third) job. Making new friends as an adult is hella hard, and being introverted doesn’t help (but Zumba does). My goal through all of it is to stay present, focus on where I am now, enjoy what I have here, and trust my ability to face whatever challenges come up.
Focusing on my own journey and what I wanted to do with my life (not what someone else expected of me) is how I ended up in this amazing place in the first place. So it only makes sense that I would keep going. I think it’s ok to look back and remember what I left behind, as long as I don’t get stuck there. I left a lot behind, especially in regards to my dancing, but feeling that what I’ve gained here makes it totally worth it tells me I made the right choice.