Do I Need Goals?

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So I’m a little apprehensive about today’s lesson. We had a very emotionally charged discussion on Friday. She said over and over that I don’t give her enough feedback and she doesn’t know how to deal with that. She said she doesn’t know what I like or where I want to go and how can she be an effective teacher and help me if she doesn’t know these things. She told me I had to find a way to tell her something. Yesterday, I went to group class (Two-Step) and gave her a card which contained a letter attempting to answer her questions.
Why did I do it that way? Whole bunch of reasons. The most important are that I write better than I speak and that by writing, I can get my points across without her interrupting which she is sometimes prone to do.
But I had to lay out some stuff I’m not comfortable with. The phrase still waters run deep does tend to apply to me (although I don’t quite get that one either because a puddle can be pretty still but it sure ain’t deep). I do have strong emotional reactions to things but I don’t like opening myself up that way. And I’m sure you are saying “but you do that here all the time”. Yes, that is true but I’m doing it behind my curtain where I can’t be seen. If I had to interact with you people face to face, you wouldn’t get that much out of me. So I have no idea how she’s going to take some of what I wrote. She has strong emotions but doesn’t always seem to know how to deal with other people’s feelings so I really have no idea how tonight will go.
The toughest thing is going to be talking about goals. I struggle with this because, in my mind, a goal needs to be realistic. It is OK to stretch but you have to understand what is ultimately doable. For example, a true stretch goal for me is to do 3 miles in 40 minutes on the treadmill at work. That would be an average walking speed of 4.5 mph and I’m pushing myself towards 4.4 mph now so that certainly is doable. I would never say 5 miles in 40 minutes since that would require actually running and lots of sweat and that’s not what I’m about.
So do I say something stupid like “winning a comp”. Well I also know how much additional work and money that would take and those are real limitations so that goal isn’t necessary obtainable. I could go back to the Famous Franchise levels and talk about getting through Silver 3 or Silver 4 in some time but that’s not as interesting to me. In some ways, I miss it. Medal Ball is on Saturday so lots of people are checking out and it is fun to watch them get nervous during the check out but then get very happy when they find out they’ve made it. But, for now, the steps are less important than actually looking and feeling more like a dancer which requires more focus on technique within the current routines. Which is a goal but not a real good one since it is very difficult to quantify and you have to know when you’ve reached a goal for it to be meaningful.
I guess my main problem is that I do this for the whole experience. I love the way it makes me feel when I do something right. I love stepping into a world that is so alien to my normal world. Most of the time, I love that it is demanding and that it forces me out of my comfort zone. Dance has been a journey where I’ve learned so much about myself and it has changed me. Its like walking through a magical forest – you keep finding new and exciting things – so why can’t I just keep walking around here and soaking in the experiences. Do I need to know where I’m going? Do I need a plan? Should I be trying to get somewhere? I don’t know. But how do I communicate that to my instructor who is goal oriented and does like to push towards a destination.
The only other problem with tonight is I’m kind of burned out a bit. Prepping for NorthStar took a lot out of me and the emotions I felt while there also did a number. The last couple of weeks have been rough since I could just feel the negative energy towards me coming from her and it was a struggle to make it through the last couple of lessons. So I really feel like just having some fun but will that make me appear like I’m not driven and, again, I don’t know how she will react to that.
I wonder too if she isn’t feeling the same type of apprehension. She does make assumptions about how the lesson is going to go based on how I look when I get there. Think I’ll try and walk in smiling and happy and see how it goes.

7 comments

  1. Have you considered changing instructors? Is does not sound like this is working for you. You seem miserable. It comes down to 4 possibilities, as I see it: She changes (unlikely, and you have no control over it), you shift internally (you have the power to do this, but are you willing? Would a shift from you, and only you, resolve the issue? What does that change in how you show up in relationship to her look like? How do you respond rather than react?), you leave and have a new experience elsewhere, or you stay and keep doing what you are doing and, thusly, keep getting what you are getting, which seems like a bucketful of unhappy. Seems to me you are locked in a repeating pattern with your instructor. I wonder if this way of relating reminds you of any other relationships in your life? That could provide some insight into why you are creating this habitual spiral with your instructor. The pattern needs to be interrupted so that it doesn’t continue on autopilot ad infinitum. How could you drastically interrupt the pattern at a crucial moment before it nosedives into oblivion? No doubt about it, it is a tough situation. Sometimes there is great value in working through it, sticking with it. Sometimes there is great value it letting go and moving on. Only you have your answer. I wish you joy and happiness in dancing, and in life!

    1. You have so accurately captured what I am struggling with. This is one of the first times I’ve thought about walking away. I know I need to share these feelings with her because it still feels unresolved to me.

      1. Yeah, probably open, boldly honest communication is the only way to salvage this, if it is to be salvaged. The worst thing is to be in that limbo of “unresolved” and allow unexpressed frustrations to fester. Either way it pans out, at least when it is resolved you can move forward. Hugs.

  2. I’ve been following your journey over the past several weeks, and I hope you’ll permit an unsolicited opinion. I don’t know you or your teacher, obviously, but I’ve taught students who are very similar to the way you describe yourself [I am a lady teacher and I teach a lot of individual gentlemen, as well as ladies and couples], and, for what it’s worth, I’d like to offer a few observations from my experience.

    (1) “Goal” and “event” are two different words. Right now, some of my students’ goals are: preparing routines to perform in showcase divisions at competition; learning how to change up their lead to be more successful social dancers with any follow; developing physical movement strategies to address specific movement challenges (e.g. improved leg tracking under the body, better balance, better core control, etc.). All of these goals are equally valid. The way a lot of teaching and studios are structured, it can seem sometimes to both teachers and students that if a goal doesn’t include an event or a performance, it isn’t a real goal. And that’s just plain false. Obviously.

    (2) People are people, and of course we always have to work to communicate more harmoniously and effectively. But. In this situation, you are a PAYING CLIENT. If you’re not happy, bring the owner into the situation. You are not responsible for making her job easier or conforming to her expectations of how you should learn. It’s the teacher’s job and privilege to adjust to each student’s individual mode of learning and communication. I can’t over emphasize how important it is to be really honest about what’s working and what’s not – maybe an email to the owner and the teacher both would be a good idea, if having that conversation in person is not comfortable. It’s possible that this is a learning opportunity for your teacher; it’s also possible that bringing in a third party will allow the conversation to be more productive and less intensely personal.

    (3) It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. Not knowing what your local studio/teaching situation is, perhaps it’s possible to take a brief hiatus or space out your lessons with your current teacher while you explore other options. You may find that ultimately, a combination of several teachers or a team of professionals suits you best, or you may find that you’ve got the best option for you. But I’d encourage you to get out there and audition some other potential teachers (and don’t just try out ladies – often some time training with a gentleman can really turn it around). Sometimes we learn what our goals are and how to communicate them more effectively by opening up our pond and swimming with other fish (not necessarily bigger or smaller, just different).

    Whatever happens, I wish you the absolute best with your dancing and I hope for a harmonious resolution to your current situation.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the advice. You make some good points. Not sure about the whole dancing with a guy thing though. I’ve got enough personal space issues with the women. 🙂

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