Why I do this to myself I seriously don’t understand.
Boy did I get myself into a tizzy today. So the deal is that I’ve signed up to do the Galaxy competition here in Phoenix and it is in about a week and a half. I’m going to dance Rhythm with Ivan and Latin with Kristijan.
Do I feel ready? Not at all. My body and endurance is not where I want it to be. My new shoes got here today so I’m breaking them in and they hurt. I do not feel practiced in either set of my routines – we are still working out details in Rhythm open choreo (closed is just lead and follow but there is still technique to remember and execute with excellence), and I don’t know that we’ve run the routines completely start to finish, certainly not full-out with all tricks. Oh, and also for sure we’ve not done any complete rounds. In Latin, I learned both Paso Doble and Jive just last week. Needless to say I don’t feel entirely comfortable with everything. (Or ANYTHING!!! Gah!)
Not to mention that this is my first competition back in a year or longer.
Until today, I’ve been cool with it all. I’ve been in a space that I am dancing for me, I love to do it, I need to get back into it at some point so why wait, we never really feel ready, and I’d thought I’d come to peace with how I am dancing and how my body looks. I was really calm about everything just trusting that I don’t have to be perfect, but to get where I ultimately want to be, I need to get back in the game. I was choosing to not take things so seriously because of everything that is going on, and really people don’t care that much anyways! I’ve been watching a lot of reality shows lately like Project Runway and RuPaul’s Drag Race and all the judging that happens comes down to opinions. I’ve been working on making my own opinion of myself more important than those of others around me. This isn’t to say I’m not open to feedback or coaching, but rather that such feedback doesn’t shake me to the core like it used to, that I can decide what works for me and leave what doesn’t, that I don’t just accept it as fact, and that at the end of the day it is about loving myself and being okay with being me.
I’ve been telling myself that this year was indeed about transformation. I’ve made a lot of changes, although they may be invisible, but they have culminated in me changing the name of this blog, creating a situation where I can pursue dancing with two amazing instructors, and feeling ready to step back on to the competitive scene knowing that I am not as polished as might be expected. I was (or at least I thought I was) strong and centered – determined to play my own game at the competition – one in which winning meant no nerves, enjoying myself, sharing myself, and really feeling the dancing (not just going through the motions or doing the steps per rote). Not to mention it is a privilege and a blessing to get to pursue dancing. First world problems, all of this! I’m generally grateful about it!
Speaking about grateful – here is a pic of the new dress. Animal print, red and black…RAWR!
Well, today, all of that went right out the window. About half-way through my lesson with Kristijan, as we were running through rounds, it hit me, like out of nowhere. Suddenly a cacophony erupted screaming mercilessly all my fears and insecurities, self-judgements, harshest self-criticisms, doom, gloom, and crappy self-talk. I have not been triggered that intensely in a very long time.
“What will people think?” they said. “You look exactly the same, you fatso! You took a year off! What the hell have you been doing? Does your dancing even look different at all? No! You know there will be expectations and what do you have to show for it?” They continued, “And what about dancing with two different instructors? People are going to comment on it. You are going to be judged. They will be judged.” (Cue dramatic, horrifying music…dum dum daaaammmmm!)
And then probably my most familiar demon spake, “You stink! Your dancing is so bad, so gross. How messy your feet are! There is no upper body movement. You are moving your hips wrong. Seriously everything you are doing is horrible. You really need to let go of the idea that you are or could be a good or excellent dancer. You are just never going to look like that! Stop trying to be something you are not. You will NEVER be enough.”
I got so fixated on looking good, or, not looking bad, that all the joy was sucked out of my being. I was so caught up in all that was so completely, obviously WRONG with me, and how I am still not able to fix it, even after living 37 years on this Earth… “If only I could fix it. Then I would be okay, then I would be acceptable. Then it would be okay for me to dance…..”
I know it’s all bullshit but it feels so very real. It’s so depressing. The black hole of egocenteredness….
I’ve really been working on letting go of trying to feel “special” or “better than/worse than” others. This is just an ego-trip/ego-trick. The ego is concerned with such things. (side note, ego is not bad…it’s just getting in my way in this particular issue. We, as humans, must have some sort of ego persona to function properly…I guess I’m referring to an overblown ego, a needy ego, one that is not balanced or neutral in nature…) I’ve been practicing my mantra of this is it, and this is perfect. I am enough just as I am. My body is exactly how it is and exactly how it isn’t. It is changing every day based on how I take care of it. I am so blessed to have such an amazing body that moves so beautifully and to be in such good health. I’ve been practicing freeing myself from self-judgement and criticism so that I feel safe enough to just express myself freely.
And then today, oh man! It sucked me right in! Right back down to the deep black pits of despair. Honestly, I’m still upset about it – that’s why I’m writing about it. I want to get it all out and get the freak-out processed and gone so that I can show up how I want to show up at the competition, with a big, joyful smile on my face, nonplussed by how anyone reacts to me, really focused on enjoying the magnificent experience – to enjoy it for every penny I’ve spent on it (Am I right? Ballroom is stupid expensive $$$$$), all the time I’ve put in to get ready for it, and all the energy I’ve put toward it.
(And shout out to Girl With The Tree Tattoo – how upset and disappointed I would be if I couldn’t even do it!!!! Humans, including me, are INSANE!!! I am lucky to get to do it…)
Although it was apparent I was emotional during my lesson, I pretty much held it together until I made it into my car. Once I reached my vehicle and closed the door, I collapsed crying and coughing. I even began retching a little bit (luckily I had tissues in my car) and my throat spasmed tight just like it did when I was a little girl trying to hold my emotions inside. I felt like I was being choked from within the internal tissues of my esophagus. Maybe you don’t believe in chakras or anything but it so happens that the throat chakra is related to self-expression, which makes total sense in my mind as to what’s going on inside my system. It’s an old pattern of the feeling of being judged and needing to be other than I am which steals my joy and tightens me up to hold in the emotions. Unfortunately it also squelches free self-expression, and I do not feel safe to be myself with abandon, without filtering. Oh my! Time to let that one go, don’t you think?
The hilarious part is that I’m the one judging myself. I do recall as a little girl wishing that I could just be accepted for who and how I was. I did not feel that it was okay to be me. I suppose every child experiences some flavor of that while growing up and being socialized so that we can actually fit into society and all. So it’s probably just a normal part of development. However I really seemed to have internalized the voice of self-judgement and it is rearing its ugly head right now. There is no problem with it existing, it’s just that I am buying into what it says, and what it says is vicious. This doesn’t serve me at all – it steals my joy, makes me sad and depressed, and just generally sucks! Why am I believing what it says, anyways!? If someone said these things to me out loud I’d tell them to go fuck themselves! I’d walk away and know that they were full of crap projecting on me and that it was not the truth. OMG. So the fact that I was so very taken in by fear today was a real eye-opener.
Okay, so yeah. Cue the freak-out. That’s the space I am experiencing today.
I’m determined to feel the feelings. I am grateful this happened today and not the day of the comp! (Yay? lol) Only when such vulnerablities that we want to hide in the shadows are exposed can we address them and heal them.
Moving forward: I, Stefanie, am committed to intentionally create for myself the experience I’ve described about how I want to show up at the competition. I do declare that I will be joyful, calm yet excited, open, grateful, ready for fun and magic, limber, relaxed, connected, sensitive, centered, strong and powerful! I will move people. And, I choose to love and approve of myself exactly as I am.
That being said, I would still really appreciate encouragement and reminders of how awesome I am 🙂 It would help me shift out of this dark space quicker.
It feels a bit weird to hit “like” on this Stef, but I did it anyway. I like seeing a new BGITB post any day, of course, and who can resist pictures of a gorgeous new ballgown? But seriously, this sounds like a bit of a breakthrough to me. You have achieved a new threshold, felt the wonder and glory of it and found out, as we all do, that we can’t power through our issues, emerge at the top of the hill and live happily ever after. It isn’t that you never get to live happily ever after, it is just always more complicated than we expect it to be. I think climbers call it a false summit. You think you are at the top and BAM! you get there to find it is not the top after all. But you are much higher than you were when you started, right? Your last 3 paragraphs are perfect. Print ’em out and carry them in your pocket (body suit if you decide to take them on the floor with you. LOL)
Personally, I would be scared spitless to go into a comp without getting a few completed rounds in. Sure hope you get that happening this week!
As far as your dance ability goes – you rock. Honest. Really. You will amaze others and, I hope yourself. Have fun!!!!!
Awww BG, thanks so much for the fresh perspective about it being a breakthrough…as well as the reality check of the false summit. That’s life, isn’t it? I think there is a song…it’s not the mountain it’s the climb….
Yes, I’m much further than when I started.
And, well, we’ll see about getting full rounds in lol. I’m going to roll with it, however it looks.
You are the best.
Stefanie, you are BEAUTIFUL and a BEAUTIFUL dancer. You are a WINNER no matter what does or doesn’t happen at your comp! ❤ you!
Love you Stef! And thanks for the text today. Thinking about you and just know I know that you ROCK!
Thanks Sweetie! Let’s hang out soon!
You’re awesome. In case you forgot. 🙂
Right back at you, Rockstar. Chin up…you can never know how life will unfold and what might be just around the bend. Hang in there. Hugs.
You are in a good place. Something I have learned through my own journey is that bad days happen–and we have to let them. The sooner we can give in to a bad day, and recognize it’s a bad day, the sooner we can pick ourselves up and move forward on the next one. You have recognized it’s a bad day, and you are getting the feelings out (isn’t writing therapeutic!?!?). That’s the first step. Now that you have acknowledged you have these feelings and that perhaps they aren’t reasonable, you can accept them and look forward. In the end, you are a beautiful person and dancer and that is why we are all following your blog. You inspire others. It is not about being in competition with everyone else on the floor, it is about doing the best yourself. You will do your best–no doubts about it here!! You WILL be a better dancer than you were a year ago. In the end you are in competition with yourself only and before you even step on the floor you are already a better dancer who has come miles with not one, but two instructors, and figured out what works for you. In the end–if it works for you, does it matter what others might do or think?? Clearly, it works for you!! Your journey doesn’t end, every day is a new beginning and what you want it to be. I wish you the best of luck and more good days than bad.
I have to say that your message tonight truly moved me. I won’t hesitate to admit that I teared up a bit reading your kind, wise, encouraging and loving comment. You are so right, sister! When authentically negative stuff comes up, I tend to embrace it and experience it as much as I can, knowing that “this, too, shall pass,” and “nothing is permanent.” (Oh, and YES! Writing is SO therapeutic. What a fantastic outlet, no?) I’m still breathing so the game isn’t over, at least that’s how I look at it. Thank you for reminding me that I am beautiful and inspiring. You inspire me more than you know. I do hope we get to meet!
Hi Stefanie – sending greetings, bouquets and support to you from The Great Land of Oz.We all want to be gorgeous, divine, perfect dancers like those we see on TV but in our earnestness to árrive” we overlook the years of dedicated hard work and financial investment which enables girls to arrive at this place. If you, like me, have only been dancing for a few years then stop stressing and be grateful you have a lifestyle which enables hours of learning and can afford private lessons and beautiful gowns. Go with the flow, be the very best you can be and enjoy those precious minutes when your body and your partners body are at one with the music. There is no more satisfying, joyous place to be! Often I also resist the seemingly endless challenge that ballroom/latin demands of me. At this point I can a) resign, give up the challenge and stop dancing or b) carry on making frustratingly slow advances or c) rise to the challenge – be prepared to fall down and get up again and carry on doing the best I can. Remember to look to how far you’ve come whilst also keeping a focus on where you want to be.
Hi Sandy! How cool that you found me from Oz! That blows my mind. I totally appreciate your comments and wisdom. Thanks for the encouragement. I will take your advice and go with the flow, be the best I can be, and enjoy the precious moments of dancing at one with partner and music. I think my favorite saying is “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.” Thanks again for the kind comment. Sincerely, Stef
You are going to be ok… The mind always doubts and reminds us of our past… Trust your inner divine self to express herself as you dance so sensually to your story of love… Barbara x
Stefanie, you will rock the competition and show them all what a beautiful dancer you are!
Yes, you are awesome. FWIW, I think what you’ve experienced is a normal part of the process. The fact that you’ve recognized it for what it is, and refused to fall farther into that deep, dark hole is a sign of real progress. The analogy that comes to mind is to think of this like a garden where weeds had completely taken over. Clearing them the first time is hard, hard work and you can put down all sorts of barriers and improvements and start to garden. But, each day, the weeds try to come back – it is just how they are. So you have to be watchful and tend to things but the good news is that if you do that, it is never as hard as the first time. Now go rock that comp like you know you can!
It’s all part of the process and I think it’s very positive you are dealing with this straight on. It’s like the inner game of tennis, the level of play is second to the mindset. You are doing better than you think you are and we are very proud of your tremendous progress. You ARE in a good place right now. I think people will be thrilled to see you back in competition and appreciate how far you’ve come and matured as a dancer. You are focusing on the superficial stuff that doesn’t matter. . You have defined it. You are dealing with it Like the movie Frozen “let it go”. Let yourself be defined by the and extraordinary dancer and person you are.
P.s. Instead of battling this on your own, the only real way in which to defeat any darkness is by giving it all up to The Lord. The power of prayer is truly amazing. I am praying for you.
Oh how I feel you on all of this. My partner looked at me at Millennium and says “I know you have body issues and are one of the bigger girls here, but don’t get into your head”. Seriously?! I am down to between an 8 and a 10 right now and I was feeling pretty good about that… until he opened his mouth… at which point I took a look around, realized how awesome dancing at Millennium is and let it go. Other people’s opinions of each of us are none of our business. I am glad I found your blog and I hope you keep up the honesty. 🙂
Stefanie I admire you and the strength that you have.You are a mentor of mine. I am going through similar things, weight, low self esteem etc, but I am determined to keep dancing and competing! I have yu in my thoughts and prayers , go kick some butt!
Hi there! Thank you so much. And here’s a little secret…we can only identify in others that which we have in ourselves. Therefore, I believe you to be a strong and determined woman. It is, of course up to you to own these aspects of yourself. Thank you for the encouragement, & I want to mirror it back to you as well: I have you in my thoughts and prayers! Go kick some butt!