Old Wounds

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Well things were going OK at my lesson last night until my instructor brought up another couple.  The guy is really wanting to do one of the real comps put on by the franchise and she mentioned that she asked him to talk to me about my experiences so that maybe he’d be better prepared.  My very strong first impression (which I made the mistake of telling her) was that I really had no interest in doing that.  This was for three primary reasons:

  1. I don’t know what his goals are and so my experience may not be of any use to him.
  2. My experience wasn’t 100% positive (to say the least) and if she was expecting me to help sell this experience, then I couldn’t do that.
  3. Much of what I went though was deeply personal and based on my own life experiences and mind-set and is not something I’m comfortable sharing.

Of the three, I went with option #2.  And it turned out that she was OK with that.  Reading between the lines, I think she wanted someone to give him the ugly side of it but then I don’t think she truly understands how ugly it really got for me.  I don’t know if this guy has an inflated opinion of his own dancing although this would certainly be a reality check and I could talk about how much prep there would be.  Nothing really prepares you for how crowded the floor was and how much you have to think on your feet to avoid others.  He’s only done one showcase and he really didn’t do that much dancing at that showcase so I’m not sure why he’s wanting to do the comp.  To me, it’d be like jumping into the deep end after one swimming lesson but maybe that’s how he’s wired.  I guess if he asks, I’ll speak in generalities about the event without providing the specific details of my experience.

It is funny thinking about it now (which I have mostly avoided).  In the excitement after the event, I tended to remember the good times and there was a feeling of accomplishment about actually doing one of these larger events.  The more time passes, the more the good stuff fades and all I’m left with are the strong negative emotions that it dredged up.  Strange that it wasn’t the actual dancing that was the problem, it was all the stuff that went along with it.  Take an extreme introvert with lingering body image issues and a lack of confidence and put them in a room full of people they don’t know without a lot of support and a lot of free time to think and bad things are going to happen.  Ever felt alone and isolated in a room full of people?  Ever felt like you had crashed a party and everyone knew you didn’t belong?  How about the feeling that everyone in a room knows everyone else and you know nobody and nobody wants to know you?  I know none of this is true but emotions trump logic from time to time.  All of that came back to me last night and really just put a damper on the rest of the lesson.

It also didn’t help that we started doing some more technique and she wanted to change how I’m doing my cha-cha.  Thinking about it on the way home, I realized that this is just the natural part of learning.  You don’t jump into calculus without going through algebra first and just because you don’t know calculus, it doesn’t mean you are stupid.  It just adds more layers to your knowledge.  And this is the same.  There are always areas you can improve on but things build on other things so you have to get the posture to a point where you are ready to take on something else and once that is a little more solid, then you move onto something else.  It doesn’t detract from what you already know and it doesn’t mean you suck at dancing.  As I said, this was clear to me on the ride home.  At the studio, in the heat of the moment, not so much.

Don’t know why but it just seems like every time we get around to technique and trying to make it better, my mind jumps to  “Why didn’t I know this before”.  Which is then followed by “I should have known this at my level” and then quickly by “So I’ve been doing it wrong all these years” which ultimately can lead to “I really suck at this”.  My version of the failure spiral where all the good I’ve done and all the positive feedback I’ve received is quickly and efficiently flushed away and I’m back to doubting everything that I’m doing and thinking that I’m a failure.  The only good news is I was able to be a little more logical and calm on the way home; in the past, it has taken me longer to recover.  I don’t know what it will take for me to truly believe in myself but last night was an indication that I clearly have a lot of work to do that front.

But we are back at it tonight.  Working on swing but with some of the same technique we tried with the cha-cha.  Got the entire day to get prepped for it.  It is going to feel awkward but it is a necessary evil and it is just adding another layer and helping to improve my dancing which is the ultimate goal.   It doesn’t detract from what I’ve done up until now.  Maybe if I say that often enough today, I’ll start to believe it.

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