So two nights ago I had a dream that I was at a ballroom competition and I took a photo with Yulia Zagoruchenko but then I was waiting to pick it up but I had to leave it behind because I was late getting onto the dance floor.
Last time I couldn’t get my fishnets on correctly and could only find one heel.
Yeah, so my unconscious knows what is coming up in six days (cue ominous music) – that’s right – my next dance competition.
Time to put on the fake nails, the fake tan, and practice my dance moves one last time.
But more importantly, for me, I feel, is to get myself in the right headspace.
I’ve not done a whole lot of competitions, and they are far from old hat for me yet. I learn so much every time I participate in one and I still have a lot to learn. Especially about bigger competitions. I’ve yet to go to a really big one like Emerald or Ohio or Nationals and I want to do that, I really do. But I want to do it when I feel like I have a fighting chance, and I don’t think that is the case just yet.
But also, I can reflect upon how far I’ve come, especially when another of Ivan’s students is boldly choosing to get out there in six days for her very first competition and I’m talking with her about the experience. And I’m not just talking about having an inkling of what to expect – about the logistics, how things work, what to bring, and all that. I’m talking about being in a smaller body, being at a different level of dancing, and feeling that the little seeds of confidence I littered upon my heart when I began this endeavor are finally beginning to sprout but aren’t in full bloom just yet.
It’s no secret, I suppose, especially with the blog, that I struggle with self-confidence. But the weird thing is that I almost feel like it’s even harder now for me than it was 80 pounds ago. I guess back then I just knew that I was so huge and that I felt like I had to be a really, really respectable level dancer to even brave going out on the floor to not make a complete ass out of myself. But I pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I’d never be anything really special, that I could never actually ever be a champion. These days, I’m still generally the biggest girl out there, but I have also grown and changed and people have seen a bit of my journey. I think I’m a little more known and seen as a good dancer and performer. Most importantly Ivan now sees me as a serious dancer and competitor. I barely dare to believe what is possible for me. Sometimes a lot of what comes up for me is fear. Fear that I am not good enough and never will be. Fear that my body is gross and will never look like it needs to in order to be the competitor I want to be.
But enough of that crap! Haven’t I tortured myself enough with all this? Haven’t I worked my butt off to be where I am right now, even if it is not where I’d ultimately like to be? The biggest battle, it’s not the food, it’s not even the working out (even though I can drag my feet with both aspects sometimes), no, the biggest battle is believing I am capable of this. It is believing that I’m worth it. Believing that I could, in this lifetime, have a body fat percentage less than 20%. That it actually is possible to get into a dress I love, in a body I love, or maybe even wear a bathing suit in public. It’s changing my belief about what’s possible for me. In essence it is moving something which I have always held in the column of “impossible” to the column of “possible.”
People think I have so much confidence, and I think to a certain extent I project that on that dancefloor, probably because I do perform and get out there. Like my new trainer was all “Girl you have balls to get out there” when she saw Ivan’s other student who also works out at my gym and is a typical sized woman for the ballroom game. But I still have a lot of self-doubt and I just can’t seem to shake it sometimes.
And so I feel more pressure than I used to. This is pressure I put on myself, but also Ivan increasingly puts it on me as well. It’s a good thing but it also makes me a little queasy. It’s a good thing because I’m being pushed and I’m fighting for my spot on the floor. And yeah maybe I’m not the person who will have worked the hardest in the entire world, but I have worked damn hard, and there is still so much work to do, but it’s a valiant fight and maybe it will be recognized. But the risk is, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will never be fully appreciated and maybe it will come down to a shit deal like not having the tightest, sexiest body. And do you see the kind of headspace I have? It is a veritable merry-go-round of talking myself up, giving myself a pep talk, and feeling like I’m still lacking something. It’s about walking that fine line between being vulnerable but then being strong and centered and dancing like I own that floor….even if that feels like a stretch. But the sick game is that I will never really have a finish line to say “I’ve arrived” or “completed.” Because results are only results and subjective and each and every competition is a very different experience, sometimes against very different competitors. And I know I show up differently to each one, sometimes showing up differently on different days, or even for single dances. And sometimes I stack up ahead of the same competitor who beat my butt the last time I saw her. It can be a total mind@#*! if you know what I mean.
I’ve got to learn to stop apologizing for who and how I am, for the choices I made in the past and the choices I’m making now. I’ve got to learn to love myself and believe in myself. Seriously! Sometimes I get all co-dependent and down and feel bad about me when Ivan’s telling me all the shit I have to fix, which is like every 10 seconds sometimes as we are working through a routine, and it’s hard and I worry that I will never be able to make it better but what I really need to do is be all, “Ivan thanks for the feedback. I’ll do my best but I feel great and nothing you say is going to change that because I rock.” And I just want to good about me and how I’m dancing.
So all this post is just to say I’m going through the normal stuff before a competition, for me that is. There is the compulsory weirdo anxiety dream and the self-doubt that creeps in and the physical preparation. And, screw that. No negative voices are allowed in my head from this moment on. The decision is made. This is no time to be timid or hold back. I’m consciously and deliberately preparing myself mentally. I’m going to rock it. Why? Because I am awesome. The end.
Competition headspace is the same for ALL of us, I think! You wrote you want to compete when you have more of a “fighting chance,” but you have a fighting chance NOW! Your dancing is beautiful! And one thing we amateurs must remember is that politics may or may not be on our side. We might be amazing, but someone who just danced 300 heats and this is her seventh comp of the year… yeah, she’s probably going to be up there because the judges know her and know what she can do. If we wait until we’re better, that time will NEVER come – our dancing is ALWAYS improving. So – I’m going to USDC next year – you in? 🙂
Great response! I don’t personally know you, but this is true. Go to those comps and make your art and love every moment of it!
Well what I read from this post is that you are a determined woman. a fighter. I see a winner as a person and human being. Just getting out on the floor is a challenge for any person. To get out there with the standard challenges and in addition your own self doubt and or reservations takes twice the nerve in my opinion. Most people out there won’t even get on the floor, yet you do it and continue to do so, even as the challenges become greater, simply because you have pushed yourself to a higher level and skill set. You have put yourself on the next level in regard to skills each and every time you compete. Couple this this with the obstacles you must overcome within your own “headspace” and in my book your are a person of great courage and heart. I saw your last posted video of you dancing and you were fantastic! I wished you were dancing in Vegas so I could come watch. Someday maybe…
Keep setting examples for me and giving me heart to continue. Looking forward to more video too by the way.
Keep positive and keep believing and you will get to your weight loss goals. Two years ago, I never would have believed that real change was possible but it is. Totally get where you are coming from with the self doubt and the dancing. Would love to get a point where I can just cast it all aside as well but it is tough. Dancing is great but it can totally mess with your head. Good luck with the competition. Knock em dead.
I think the headspace is the same for every type of event, whether it be dancing, a horse show, or a skating performance. And of course it comes with, usually, the requisite self-doubt. I also know the feeling of hearing the litany of corrections in both of my sports. This doesn’t mean we are poor, it means we are capable of more, or the coach/nstructor wouldn’t be trying, right? Ivan believes in you – that much is certain.
Once you see these “features of competition”, I can see you have noted them, and now you are moving forward. What I see here is it is important not to lump EVERYTHING about your life into prepping for this event. Though, I must also say (having been there myself so many times in skating) that I think it is normal to do so. Recognizing that it’s far too much self-pressure, and also that everything cannot be changed prior to the event has to be let go. Letting go of that aspect (such as wanting to lose more weight) is crucial. You are working on your weight consistently. You have the body you have for now. Rock it, have a blast, and enjoy your event.
Strength and vulnerability are meant to work together; having both means you’re doing something right. I enjoy reading your blog entries and appreciate your honestly and determination. Anyone who has danced competitively knows the tumultuous mental process you’re describing… it’s awful and exhilarating all at the same time!