So many dancers have a lot of fear surrounding their careers and futures. Even at a young age where they are still in school, they are already experiencing anxiety over getting a company contract or being able to “make it” in the dance world. While it can be productive to think ahead and have goals, living too much in this fear zone can be detrimental to your health…and your dancing. Obsessing about something you can’t fully control will only take precious power away from you and cause you to suffer needlessly.
The truth is, there are so many different opportunities to share your art in the dance world. Especially nowadays where different body types are becoming more and more accepted and valued, there are companies that hire all different shapes and sizes. Plus, there is a growing variety of venues to channel your art into. Sure, the pressures to have the “perfect ballet body” along with the flashy tricks popular on Instagram and YouTube are still widely present, but those certainly are not the make-or-break determinants of your success as a dancer.
What is going to help you succeed in the dance world? What is going to help you get a company contract and the roles you want? What is going to help you find fulfillment and happiness? What looks best on you? Confidence – the confidence that comes from learning how to master your unique body and art. You can’t have confidence if you are constantly fearing the “what ifs” and not taking advantage of all the possibilities in the present moment to level-up right now.
Life is composed of a series of baby steps. Each one leads you a little further along your path. And each little tiny step is essential in taking you where you want to go. You can’t just skip ahead to the peak experiences or major turning points in your life…you have to put the work in every single day to take you a little further on your journey. It’s so easy to get anxious about your future or achieving a certain goal. But, that anxiety is only going to make you suffer. Take a second to calm your mental demons, and figure out what ONE step you can take today that will lead you a little closer towards building your best self. It’s through these baby steps that the big changes manifest.
If someone had told 3-year-old Little Tanya where she had to end up three decades later, I would have been overwhelmed and completely lost and confused as to how to go about getting there. I most likely would have driven myself mad with anxiety over every decision I made, fearing that I was making the wrong choices that would take me in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. But, instead of feeling obligated to reach an endpoint without being given a map, Little Tanya created her own path by putting one foot in front of the other, every day. The funny thing is, I didn’t end up where I thought I would. But, by taking one step at a time and staying open to the opportunities and adventures encountered along the way, I have been able to build my own unique, fulfilling place in the dance world – a place that allows me to express myself and indulge in my art.
The more experience you get (a.k.a. the more baby steps you take), the more you will learn that there are so many opportunities to find fulfillment in the dance world. They may not always be the opportunities you dreamed about when you were younger that involved reaching a certain level in a specific company, though. Fixating on a rigid outcome like this is what brews anxiety, depression, and a close-minded approach to life. Many of the dancers I’ve worked with through my Elite Coaching program have discovered that the dreams they were killing themselves for were not what they actually wanted once they started to explore their deeper wisdom. They were just caught in an anxious pattern of chasing something they thought they had to chase ever since they were a baby bunhead. Their demons’ close-minded view of what it meant to "succeed" in the dance world didn’t allow them to recognize all the other opportunities that could make them happy. You have to let yourself evolve and figure out what you really want out of your dance experience, which will most likely change as you grow and move along your path.
The key to managing your anxiety over your dance career is this:
Most likely the problem isn’t going to be finding a job in the dance world – it’s going to be deciding what jobs to take, what sacrifices you are willing to make, how you want to share your art, what kind of performing opportunities you want, what your time is worth, and what makes you really, genuinely happy.
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