Why do I know what you are desperately craving in your ballet career...and what you need to get there?
Because I'm still in the game fighting right alongside you.
- I still feel the sting of not being cast in a role I desperately want.
- I still feel the pain of being disrespected and seen as just another expendable dancer.
- I still feel the burn of being undervalued with pay.
- I still feel the never-ending pressure to have the perfect ballerina body and lines.
I still am aching for the same things you are - to feel "good enough" in my art and to make myself vulnerable enough to share it despite all the pain involved in this career path.
The difference is, for me, the pain got to be too much to bear at a certain point. But, instead of quitting ballet so I could walk away from the demons that were destroying my life, I confronted them. I found another way to live as a ballerina with a system that allowed me to stay in the game and not just endure but thrive.
The traditional bunhead path wasn’t working for me. The mainstream methods and mindsets were not only ineffective...they were destructive. They were killing me - slowly, silently, painfully suffocating me…and my art. The harder I tried to play the game everyone else was playing, the worse I felt. The more I pushed myself and suffered for my art, the more I felt like I deserved success.
But, instead of success, I only found more suffering. The irony was that I actually was “successful” from an outsider’s viewpoint. But, I couldn’t see any of it. I was blind to any progress I made. Like a junkie fiending for that next hit of a drug, I constantly required more from myself to feel “good enough:”
If I can just get this lead role…
If I can just get this next contract…
If I can just get my développé a little higher…
If I can just get my triple pirouette...
If I can just lose a few more pounds…
...maybe then I can love myself.
But, it was never enough. The more things I accomplished, the worse I felt about myself. The standards I held myself too were impossible to meet. If I wasn’t perfect or the best, I was worthless. And the more I pushed for ballet success, the more I sacrificed my happiness.
The truth is, it’s not a bad thing to want more from yourself. The awesome privilege in this life is that there is always more you can learn, be, do, accomplish. It's when you stop seeing “more” as a burden and start seeing it as an opportunity for growth that you find your real power, fulfillment, & happiness.
This growth requires self-reflection, exploration, and care. It’s not a list of accomplishments that needs to be checked off (as in, you're not "good enough" until you cross off these items on your to-do list). But, instead self-growth takes constant diligence to determine these two vital notions:
- What do I really want? (the goals you have, the things you want to achieve, your purpose in life)
- What do I really need? (the physical and mental tools that will get you what you want)
It’s the intersection of these two concepts that will put you on your path towards growth. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want. But, you often neglect what you need. And ironically, it’s the things you need that will help you get what you want.
The Bulletproof Ballerina system is all about giving you the physical and mental tools I used and still use every day to combat these crushing mental demons in our art…and to put you on a path towards growth as both a dancer and a healthy, happy human being. You don't have to choose either ballet or happiness...you can have both. And, it's in having both that you will achieve your peak performance state.
Whatever darkness you are dealing with, it’s not too late. You are not a lost cause. Your ballet career is not over. Your happiness is not lost forever. Your self-confidence isn’t broken. Your light isn’t smudged out. It may have burned down to a tiny ember…but you can fan the flame, bring back your passion, nurture your light. You just need a fresh path to walk down – a path that nourishes your happiness and enhances your ballet technique at the same time.
The only way to escape your demons is not by walking away from them (and by default walking away from the very thing that brings you true passion in life - your ballet)...but by gaining the physical and mental tools to deal with them.
Yes, there is always more you can expect from yourself - more to learn, more to accomplish, more happiness, more fulfillment, more growth. It's not a bad thing to want more for yourself. But, you have to address what you need in order to gain these treasures for yourself.
When your old methods no longer work and your misery threatens to smother your passion for ballet…when all the other mainstream bunhead methods fail you…I’ll be here waiting for you to join my Bad Girl Ballerina revolution.
Photo credit: Pia Moore