Eight Years In

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According to Word Press, I’ve been at this for eight years now. Back then, I was getting ready to do my first Big Dance Event and, for some reason, I felt the need to record my thoughts and feelings going into it. Then, I just started to have some fun doing this. At times, it was a way for me to sort through all the stuff circling around in my mind

Truth be told, I wasn’t in a great place but I didn’t really know it at the time. Or to quote Kierkegaard “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So maybe we’ll just do some random bits of understanding I’ve gained.

You are never as anonymous as you think you are.

If you search the archives, you’ll find big gaps making it look like I didn’t do much in the first couple of years. No, there were lots and lots of posts and a couple of years ago, I deleted most of the early stuff. Never had a wide audience but the ballroom world is small enough and I dropped enough bread crumbs that a few figured out who I was.

Sometimes that was a good thing. Sometimes it wasn’t. But I ended up deciding that some of the early stuff would have been better kept to myself. Since I couldn’t easily sort it out, I just did a mass purge. If I remember correctly, that was right around the time my Mom died and I had kind of reached a bit of a breaking point so maybe I was just prone to over reaction then.

Getting out of your comfort zone is necessary but not always pleasant.

This is going to be specific to my experiences with ballroom dancing but could easily apply to any new endeavor. I’ve never done anything remotely similar to ballroom in my life. Like most people, I just assumed I couldn’t do it even though watching it always made me want to try. On the whole, learning to dance has been a major positive but the process has not been without some major emotional ups and downs.

I think sometimes we just get a fixed image of who we are and reject all things that do not fit that image. Probably becomes easier as we get older and maybe more set in our ways. Now some are gifted with much more self confidence and some of us are not. One of the biggest hurdles for me was getting over the whole “you aren’t a dancer” thing. Unfortunately, it is kind of like running an endless race of hurdles. You jump over it once and think you are done but another shows up sometimes later. At some point, the track levels out but every now and then your mind is going to toss out another hurdle to be jumped.

Another big problem of doing something brand new later is life is that you tend to lose your desire to look silly and foolish. For the most part, you get into a job that you know and a position that you are comfortable with and you start to feel a measure of control. Now imagine going to do something that you have no idea how to do and having to make mistake after mistake after mistake. You go from a job where you have a degree of competence to a hobby where you start out with almost none. And you are paying for the privilege of feeling like a complete idiot while you start out.

The hard cold reality is that there is no growth if you stay in that narrow area where you feel safe and competent. You have to get out and see what you can do and, who knows, you may discover a talent you never knew you had.

Not intended as a shot – just needed a teacher quote.

Sometimes, two personalities are simply not compatible for a given situation.

One of the reasons I deleted a lot of my earlier stuff is it was about my relationship with my first dance instructor. I would say we were oil and water but it would be more accurate to say we were like fuel and air. Get the right mixture and you get a huge explosion. And there were many such explosions over the time we worked together. Including the one that put a stop to our working together.

When you do pro/am, the relationship between teacher and student is … complicated. It can also be very intense. It can be sometimes hard to sort out what is real. If you believe Myers-Briggs, there are 16 personality types. If you believe the Enneagram, there are nine. Even if you don’t believe in any of the personality things, you’d have to acknowledge that we aren’t all the same. Some pairs are a good mix and others can just be extremely volatile.

Even if we ignore personalities, where you are in you life also matters. Let’s just say there are a significant number of factors that are in play and you don’t really know what you are getting into until you get started. I should say that when you have severe differences, there is really nobody truly at fault. It was just a pairing that was never going to work.

And it was kind of that perspective that lead me down the path to delete a lot of the older stuff. Plus, who wants to revisit bad history?

I mentioned this in my last post and it is something I’m still trying to figure out. As I said before, some people are just born with a large amount of self confidence and some of us are not. That whole “I’m not a dancer” thing that pops up from time to time and sometimes goes looking for reassurance and validation. But what you get from external sources never lasts.

Part of the reason for doing the Big Dance Event was more about getting approval than a serious desire to compete. Guess part of me just figured that was the next step I had to take. Let’s just say this was a big bit of self discovery. I did have fun at the last one I did but, by then, I was working with a different instructor and the whole thing was much more chill. Not that I didn’t take it seriously but the tension to do things perfectly wasn’t there. (To be clear, it was more my impression that things needed to be done perfectly).

After all, why would you invest a significant amount of time and money into something that wasn’t fun? A lot of personal growth from Ballroom dancing comes from showing yourself time and time again that you can do things you didn’t think you could. The path is filled with all kinds of accomplishments although most of them are just the silent pride you feel from nailing a routine in front of a crowd.

To get there requires hours of grinding on lessons. Going over steps, timing, posture, body position, lead/follow and who knows what else. Then working it over and over again hoping that it becomes second nature so that you don’t have to think and can just feel the music and dance.

It is far to easy for some of us to get wrapped up in the “everything has to be perfect” mindset. And, yes, this is another part that I still have to work on. But you go too far down that hole and things stop being fun. There will always be little things that can be done better. And then you try to make those perfect and something else slips a little. Keep going that way and it starts to feel like nothing is right and you can’t do anything. None of which is true but it is an evil trick your mind can play on you from time to time.

Ballroom is fun. Sometimes, I have to look back at some of the newer couples who are dancing together and having a great time even if they are off time and don’t have the proper frame or posture. Depending on your goals, ballroom can be a significant amount of hard work. But you should always remind yourself that you do it because it is fun and the hard work will just make it more fun. (Strange but true – the better a dance flows, the more fun it is and that’s where the work comes in)

You grow older but never grow up!

Yeah but it sucks when your age is a number that ends in 0 – like mine will be this year.

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