What Are You Afraid Of – Revisit

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“Oh confound it, man, are you afraid of success?”  So speaks Mr. Potter as George Bailey wavers on the job offer he’s just presented.  Seinfeld later did a riff on fear of success which I can’t remember exactly but his main point was that we’ve run out of fears when people start fearing success.  Then, there’s a scene in Summer School where Mark Harmon walks out on his class after telling them that they could pass the test but they’re just too happy being failures.  (May not have that last line exactly right but you get the point)

Where is the line between realism and pessimism?  At what point does optimism become hopeless idealism?  Yes, I’m plagued with doubts but when my imagination runs free, I can create this idealized version of the dancer I think I should be.  That creates a set of unrealistic expectations that aren’t real and they get shattered easily when reality intrudes and the gap between the dancer I am and the dancer I idolize is revealed.  It does prevent me from accepting that the dancer I am isn’t too bad.  The problem is negative emotions unleashed when dreams die are powerful and overwhelming.  To keep that from happening, I can lower my expectations and constantly give myself a stream of reasons (excuses) why I’m probably at the upper limit of my abilities and so I shouldn’t expect any more.  It is a safe space because when you go in with low expectations, it is hard to be disappointed.  And, to be fair to myself, there are physical limitations (knees) that I have to work around.

But I suspect that mindset is also causing me to sabotage some of my lessons.  Instead of throwing myself totally into things, I resist changes and overthink things and ask for things to be explained multiple times and from multiple different angles.  It is weird because I talk a good game about wanting to improve and wanting to grow and then throw up all kinds of road blocks when someone tries to push me.  Maybe that is just the fear of not being able to do it and wanting to stay in my safe zone.  Or am I really afraid that I can do it and then that just sets up even more expectations?

When I first started doing competitions with Z, there was that undeniable feeling of being the star of the studio.  Yes, my ego enjoyed that.  I can’t lie about that.  But there is a world of difference between being a star at a small studio and being a star on a bigger stage.   At first, it just stoked my internal competitive fires to want to be better and to want to achieve stardom.  Somewhere along the way, it locked me into some very bad cycles of behavior.  Some of it was pressure I put on myself.  Whether real or imagined, there was a feeling that I needed to be the “star” of the studio.  That Z and OwnerGuy had seen something special in me and were pushing me because they wanted something to show to the dance world.  So the fear of letting them down became real and the pressure of trying to be that star became too much.  That was just one of the many reasons why my relationship with Z broke down completely.

So they ignored me and I went from star to afterthought.  That didn’t feel good either. So where is the balance?  I’m getting ready to do this next comp and I don’t feel ready and I’m desperately trying to avoid thinking about what might happen because the reality will never match my dreams.  Lower my expectations and stay safe.  I can’t succeed on that stage at the point right now so don’t pretend that I can.  And, then when Kid T starts pushing, my mind goes to “why bother” because I can’t do well.  Work with me as I am not with how you dream I should be.  Don’t put that pressure back on me.  There are other “stars” so stop pretending that I can be one again.  Do I really want to get on this roller coaster again??

What am I afraid of??  That I can’t do this?  Or that I can??  I really have no idea at this point.

What do I want?  To move forward but not to feel pressured to do so??  Does that make any sense at all?

Sorry, more questions than answers at this point.  I know I have competitive fire within me but I know it can run wild and consume me.  Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.  But to go too far in the other direction would be to extinguish the fire and then I get into those “why am I doing this again” moods.  It is all about balance.  Feed the fire to push myself without letting get out of control.

Yep, this song pretty much nails it.


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