Also, it is very much from a female perspective. No big shocker there since I'm a female. I work with a lot of females, all ages. I work in a very concentrated manner with teen girls, as I am a ballet teacher. I also have two teenage daughters, 19 and 15. I have two boys as well, 11 and 8, and there are things in what I have written below that I would want any one of my kids, students, friends and family to internalize.
As I was going through my week of teaching a thought occurred to me. I can't say that a specific event happened to cause this thought. My mind was probably just wandering around, kick'in back with some old mental files.
Here's the thought;
"Do not let your failures be what binds you to dance (and the group of dancers that you spend time with). Focus on your successes and the adventure of progress and growth."
Ummm...what the hell does that mean?
The world of ballet training, in my experience, can sometimes leading to being a negative experience. I'm not trying to say that it should not be entered, I'm just stating an opinion that I think can be backed up.
There is a very strong focus on aesthetics; a dancer must look a certain way, whether in motion or not.
Every step demands perfection every time.
Once you get something right you must then move onto perfecting something else.
There is no grunting in ballet, or crying for that matter! Everything must appear seamless, serene and under complete control.
Those are just a few examples. These demands in and of themselves are not necessarily bad. In fact, they can be of great value.
Developing discipline through conquering challenges.
Pushing oneself to achieve a goal.
Demanding a set of standards for oneself.
Honing a skill set as those just mentioned can be transferred into all aspects of life. They can contribute to a good work ethic, a desire to achieve goals, a can-do and will-do attitude that gets things done.
But what if one loses their way by don't having the right frame of mind to take on such tirelessly demanding attributes and not start to feel deflated in heart and soul?
What "bad habits" can one oh so easily fall into to maintain a sense of safety.
"Oh man...I suck today."
"My turns/extensions/jumps/feet will never be good/high/look like so and so's."
"Oh my God! I'm so fat!"
"Oh my God! Me too!"
"That's as good as I'll ever be." Add to that the visual of someone drenched in an "I don't care" attitude. Opting to stay where they belong (false sense of safety) as opposed to venturing out into the unknown of "untapped awesomeness". I'm a gal, so this kind of group social order thinking may not describe what dudes feel. But I imagine many ladies can relate. Its as if we are trained from birth or something. At least in my generation and the ones prior to mine. Nobody likes a conceited ass, but is there anything wrong with being happy about things that are both positive and one of a kind attributes to one's individual self. If you can't appreciate your own special brand of awesomeness, how in the hell can you really appreciate it and foster it in others?
Before a dancer, usually a young dancer, knows it, they have a habitual mind set that keeps them wrapped in a blanket of perceived failures. Does anyone else smell a cliche` in the room? Self-fulfilling prophecy maybe? And habits can take a lifetime to break.
We, as humans, naturally gravitate towards trying to fill a role within whatever group, or groups, we are a part of. The diva, the victim, the screw up, the clown. The list can go on and on. Often the outward appearances of a role are vastly different from what's on the inside. I'm definitely not saying something new here.
What if we create new roles? Not just mirrors of what's on the inside, but what we want to see on the outside so that we can have the same feeling on the inside. The adventurer, the optimist, the advocate, the inspirer, the loving friend, the coach. Not just for others but for ourselves too.
Let's make some new mental tape recordings.
"Whoa! My sense of balance is a little whacky today. This should be interesting. Okay, let's start peeling back some layers and see what's up!"
"Okay, I'm struggling with my turns. I'm going to just focus on where my center of gravity is when I turn. Let's not worry about how many I can do. One. Turn. At. A. Time."
"I really want my jumps/extensions/feet to be stronger/higher/to have a better arch. Time to ask my teacher (trainer, coach...) for advice to reach my goal. Maybe do some research on my own through books about dance technique or fire up the Google."
" I really feel like crap today. My mental attitude is kinda down. Maybe I need to get more rest. Take better care of myself. Make better choices about how I fuel my body."
*If anyone ever seriously recommends a diet that's comprised of starving yourself know that they are completely ignorant about how the body works and immediately disregard anything they say about diet and exercise. Just to be safe, disregard anything they have to say about anything. If it happens to be a friend of yours, consider getting them help. Click here for more info. Don't confuse starvation dieting (anorexia, bulimia, just eating lettuce and sugar-free gum) with intermittent fasting. IT can be thought of as more of a metobolic strategy. But do your research! (Be sure to follow the links in the second article.)
"Really? Do you really believe that? How about you name five things that you think are pretty cool about how you look, or things that you are grateful for. They could be anything. What about something that makes you truly you. You can love and appreciate yourself and still be humble."
"Invest in yourself! You are your greatest natural resource. You occupy a vast, amazing and wondrous world. Why would you not be wondrous and amazing, with vast amounts of potential? Okay, so you might not ever be the dancer that you visualize is the perfect dancer. That actual dancer probably struggles with the same fantasy/reality dilemma. Get over it and focus on making the most of you!" Turn over a new leaf, add a new trick to your bag. Expand your horizons and add something that you feel you can enjoy. It doesn't mean you have to give something up, like ballet, but rather you can add something you can feel free in. And it can be anything! Yoga, martial arts, skeet shooting!
We all have days where we just want to wallow in our own sense of failure. Sometimes we feel we can fit in with our group if we tow the line of negative-thought and attitude. Hmmm...ladies? Do we not sometimes pull this crap? Stop it!
Don't open that door! It can be like a roach motel if you're not careful; once you go in, you never come out.
Take a deep breath, change the angle of how you are looking at things. Be you. Be you conquering a challenge. Be you being patient, kind and loving with yourself.
Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the dance that is life!