Yes, I know I did a post on this already but tonight is the party and things are still weighing on me. I reviewed my last post in case I was repeating myself. Some of this is might be repeat, but there’s a general new theme. Want to kind of explain why I’m even feeling a little apprehension about this party.
Off topic, but I wonder why it is that intensely private people like me somehow have no issues about sharing these things with the general public. Well, OK, that small section of the general public that actually reads this. But, still, there are living, breathing humans who are privy to some of my most private thoughts. And, yet, I’m OK with that. I’m sure there have been studies done about why but I do find it intriguing. Part of me wonders that it is easier to share online like this because there is no instant feedback. No interruptions. No strange glances or looks that I would misinterpret. Plus, the advantage here is that I can communicate in my typical rambling style without worrying about the person giving me that “you lost me two metaphors ago” look.
Part of the reason for all the additional thought was a comment Z made to one of her students yesterday. They are going to a Dance Event this weekend and she was making a big deal that this was the last event he’d do in the Bronze level. Guess he has now moved on to Silver so any future comps will be at that level.
What on earth does that have to do with some kind of dance anniversary? Well, he started after me (obviously since I was there from day 1) and has gone through all of Bronze and is into Silver. I started after my wife and I had finished Bronze so I was already in Silver. We went back and picked up Bronze in a couple of dances we didn’t do (Tango and Mambo). But, essentially, I was Silver when I started and I’m still Silver now these eight years later.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with still being Silver. The issue is that when people find out how long I’ve been dancing, there is some assumption that I should be much farther along. I think that is only going to be highlighted tonight with all the students who’ve gone through Bronze and started Silver in the eight years the studio has been open. I’m still the same. I can feel the unanswered questions. “Why are you still in Silver”.
But that’s a problem with judging only by the various metal and level that you’ve achieved. I am a much better dancer than I was eight years ago. I know this even though I may sometimes need extra convincing. Things like posture and timing have shown real improvement. We’re working on making the dances more dynamic. My solos are better. If there were objective measures, it would be clear that I’ve made significant progress in the eight years that I’ve been doing this. It just doesn’t look that way because all you have to judge is the various metals and levels.
I also know that they would move me to full Silver in a heartbeat. Well, maybe not that fast, because there are a couple of steps left to learn. But, they’d certainly promote me if I started pushing in that direction. And I do eventually want to move on. The problem for me is that it has to be real. I have to feel that I’ve earned it and that I’m not just getting passed along to keep me happy. Gaining levels just to gain levels doesn’t really appeal to me if it isn’t real. Of course that opens up a lot of other issues because I’m such a harsh critic that I might never think I’m ready.
OwnerGuy brought up the whole subject of moving to full Silver and competing at that level. I kind of deferred and didn’t answer which is my way of avoiding questions. The reality though is I didn’t do that well at the Big Dance Event if you judge by placements. It was fine because I wasn’t expecting to but it is a message that I still have a lot to learn. Why should I move up just to move up if I’m not competitive at the Associate Silver level? I played in a city softball league in my younger days and they would adjust teams at the halfway point so if you were killing all the other teams, you’d get kicked up a level. If you were losing all the time, they’d knock you back. If I had killed it at the Big Dance Event, then I might start believe that it is time to move on. But not now.
The path I chosen to follow on my dance journey may be slightly different from the norm and different from other students. And there is nothing wrong with following your own path. You should do what is right for you. And I just don’t place a lot of emphasis on the different levels or metals. At our studio, those things seem to be based more on mastery (or almost mastery) of certain steps. Doing steps is not the same thing as dancing. Last night’s group class was a perfect example of that. If you had a connection, the step worked beautifully and you were dancing. If not, it was jerky and you had to manhandle the lady (maybe I should say leaderhandle the follower) to get her to do it. There were vast differences between the three ladies even though they are all “Silver”.
I dance for a lot of reasons and many of them center on how it makes me feel. I’m finding that as I’m able to incorporate more of the technique, it does help make the transition between steps easier and it makes the whole dance flow much better. And the better it flows, the more transformational it becomes. Because when you don’t have the start/stops, and when you don’t have to think as much and it makes it easier to just feel the music and then dance and get lost in it. Like the Cha-Cha and Swing from the other night. Maybe it is a flow experience. Maybe it is some kind of dance high. But that’s the benefit. That is really what drives me to be the best dancer I can be and to try and reach whatever potential I have.
I don’t want to sound like I’m running down the whole metal/level thing. It is a tangible goal and that can be very important. There are probably other studios that make you work a little harder to move up and that would make it worth more. I guess when I see “Silver” dancers at our location and others who really don’t have good basic footwork, then it kind of devalues the whole metal thing for me.
In the end, I’m sure I’m making more of this then it will eventually turn out to be. At best, they will probably just have little certificates for all of us and maybe talk about how long we’ve been dancing there. I guess I’m just a little worried that they’ll brag on everyone else for moving through Bronze into Silver and then not have anything to say about me.
There are a couple of personality things that are in play here as well. I’m sure other types have some of these dichotomies as well but I’m the type who can be too reserved to get involved in conversations but then I feel bad if I’m left out.
I select clothing choices to reflect my individuality because I don’t want to be lumped in with the crowd. Then I get self-conscious if I wear a new shirt and someone notices. But I also get a little dejected when I wear something new and nobody says anything. What, didn’t they like it? I guess maybe “quirky” was a good descriptor after all.
(I have a shirt that is very similar to this one just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about)
It is probably also about being a very private person. My reasons for dancing are mine and they are personal and not something I share easily. (With live people face to face – we’ve already covered that I easily bare my soul online). What if I get questions like “why are you still in Silver” or even something innocent like “when are you moving up”. Truth is that I don’t know and, right now, don’t care. Got nothing driving me towards that next level. I’ll get there when I’m ready. I’m dancing for other reasons and still enjoying it. But even that feels like too much so I’d probably just say “I don’t know” and leave it at that.
And when all this anxiety goes for naught, I’ll be sure to let you know that I worked myself into a semi-frenzy for no reason at all.