[This post got to be waaaayy too long, so I’m breaking it up into two parts. Here’s part two. Read part one here.]
So I got home from Dance-O-Rama, exhausted, way overtired, and completely lost. Lost in who I am, what kind of dancer I am…pretty much no confidence in myself at all.
I had this whole week off, which was good. I figured I would need some time to process it all. And wow was I right.
I slept 11 hours on Sunday night and Monday night each. That helped. But I was still unsure of it all. I was feeling incredibly down. I was starting to feel a bit glad I went to Dance-O-Rama just to have had the experience. But I was still thinking that I wasn’t a good dancer.
Then I started thinking about a few of the conversations I had at Dance-O-Rama. I started thinking about what those people said and what they meant.
My teacher talked over the weekend about how the Dance-O-Rama experience was so emotional because it makes you grow as a dancer and as a person. And growth hurts. Dance-O-Rama is like the equivalent of 40 lessons, he says. For me, the personal growth came in doing something so different and so outside my comfort zone.
My friend JA talked about her Dance-O-Rama experience which was similar to mine. She was a bit overwhelmed at first and was ready to pack it all in by lunch on Friday.
My friend AL kept texting me all weekend. She reminded me that making the finals didn’t matter because I had finally made it to Dance-O-Rama. She also reminded me that I was technically associate bronze for this competition. So I was technically competing at a higher level and sometimes in the age category younger than me. So really I was doing well just holding my own. She also said that I should just think “wow, this is my life, everyone else is working right now and I’m looking like a rock star ballroom dancing at a competition.”
My friend JF who came to watch part of the competition told me to just have fun and stop thinking.
And I also remembered what my friend ND said when he came to Showcase. He said that he enjoyed it because it was so great to see me at my happiest.
None of these things were helping though. I was feeling so poorly of me as a dancer, I skipped the practice party on Tuesday. I was so down, I figured no one would even miss me if I weren’t there. But I had a lesson on Wednesday that I knew I had to go to. So go to it I did.
I got my scores at that lesson. First my solo. There were three judges for the solos. I got very nice comments, and scores of 92, 93 and 94. Supposedly there are very few 94s and above given for solos.
Then the closed heats. Those are scored first, second and third place. If you don’t get any of those, you don’t get a score. I got firsts in my lindy heats and in one full bronze heat. (Sadly, I can’t remember which dance. Foxtrot? Rumba?) I got a few seconds and a couple thirds too. So I placed in maybe 7 or 8 heats out of 24.
Then the open heats. Those are scored gold, silver, bronze. They give more than one of each, depending on how many entries there are in the heat. So as I told my friend KB, gold means firstish not first. I got golds in all my associate bronze heats and in one of my full bronze foxtrot heats and in my lindy heats. I also got a few silvers and bronzes. So again, maybe 7-8 heats total out of 30?
After I got my scores, we started our lesson. And my teacher asked me why I was so emotional after getting such good scores. And I started crying again. I told him my confidence was so low and the whole thing was just overwhelming and that I felt like there wasn’t one thing I could do better than any of the other students who were there. We chatted some, but I knew he couldn’t really help me. Which made it feel like I was on my own fighting this, which was a very different feeling. Before, he always been able to say something in such a way that I could hear it and believe it. And I didn’t feel like he could this time. He did comment on how much my dancing improved over the course of Dance-O-Rama and how that improvement came home with me. We started working on some smooth technique in waltz. He mentioned that he would love to see me come early to events to practice these things now. And I told him that with the way I was feeling, I didn’t know if I’d be making it to anything except my lessons for a while.
The next day (Thursday), it hit me. I have been waiting for someone to say the right compliment about me and my dancing to fix this whole feeling. I have given up fixing it myself. I kept expecting someone else to fix it for me by saying a magical phrase that I would hear and instantly believe and feel better. And that’s never going to happen.
I have the power to fix this. Why have I been giving that up? I have turned into such a downer of a person because of the negative spiral. No confidence in anything, getting upset all the time, depressed and anxious. Who wants to be around that? And why am I waiting for someone to make me believe I’m a good dancer when it’s really up to me to believe it?
Then I got mad at myself but only for a short bit. Yes, I had let things go and not dealt with anything. But getting mad about that wouldn’t fix it or change it.
So I decided to choose to believe. Fake it to make it for a bit, if you will. I went to the group class and practice party on Thursday thinking I was a great dancer, a fun person, and not a shy downer.
And you know what? IT WORKED. I had a blast at that party, and my dancing was relaxed and fun. My teacher commented towards the end that I was dancing like someone who believed in their talent. He also mentioned that he was glad I was there because after our lesson the night before, he wasn’t sure I’d show up. Which is always nice to hear. That he was glad I was there, I mean. No one wants to hear someone isn’t sure they’ll show up.
So, Dance-O-Rama. I’m so glad I went. I wish I had thought about this sooner, or at least come to some of these realizations earlier so I could have had more fun there. But in some ways, I needed to go there and in a way hit bottom to start to pull myself out of the deep thinky place I’ve been in. Being there, regardless of my feelings at the time, I got to experience something awesome that very few people ever get to do. I bonded with my friends that were there because of that shared experience. I realized my scores told the truth: I am a great dancer who was up against some tough competition, including a lot of people who do Dance-O-Ramas all the time, and I held my own. I more than held my own; I kicked some ass in some heats.
And it’s not about being better than others. It’s about being as good of a dancer as I can be. Which is a great dancer, considering my talent. I just have to work hard and remember that the days of easy fixes and learning new things quickly are long gone. But I still can do anything my teacher gives me to do; it just might take longer than one lesson to get it. (Side note: we spent Friday’s lesson working on technique in bolero which it turns out is silver level technique. And I was getting it. Man, I hate it when he’s right.)
I’m feeling so much better now, both in life and about dance. I think Dance-O-Rama really helped to start to pull me out of the thinky place. And as I told me teacher, this isn’t a permanent fix. I’m sure I’ll slide back there at some point and probably often. But I just need to continue to fake it to make it and actively think and remind myself and BELIEVE. In my dancing, in my teacher’s faith in me, and in myself.
And stop wallowing. And start being me again.