Normally I like to bring you original blog material from the vaults of my own tortured mind as a dancer. I feel that if I struggle with these mental demons, you probably do too...or at least at some point in your career have. But today I just have to share the words from one of the gurus I take inspiration from, Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. She perfectly describes one of the scenarios I battle with so often. And then, with her no-nonsense approach, shows how to deal with it. It reads like a cool, fresh, slap across the face. I love it! And hopefully you do too! Enjoy:
You Don't Exist to Please Dipshits
by Ash Ambirge, The Middle Finger Project
"You know how when you meet someone, and they give you this snotty little look like, “you’re a fucking freak,” and then you start wondering, “AM I A FUCKING FREAK?! IS THAT WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?” And you’re so quick to second guess yourself instead of second guessing the constipated stuck up instead?
I hate moments like those.
When I was young, I thought that any person who looked at me sideways was looking at me sideways because something about me was wrong. Too loud, too silly, too sweary, too sweaty (that too), too cheery, too young, too fat, too dressed up, too dressed down, too much, too much, TOO. MUCH.
Too not for them.
If you were quiet, I’d try to be more quiet…to please you.
If you spoke in a formal register, I’d speak in a formal register… to please you.
If you were a fast-talkin’ city slicker, I’d be a fast-talkin’ city slicker…to please you.
It was only when I found people like me, who were naturally silly and goofy and sarcastic and banter-ey and completely over the top, that I ever really felt like myself.
Until I got older. And I became an adult. And I was on par with all of these other adults, with their cars and their houses and their jobs and their credit cards, when I realized that: (a) Most people are dipshits and; (b) I wasn’t too much—they were too little.
It never occurred to me that the people looking at me, judging me, could be wrong.
And sometimes, even if only by sheer probability, I’d be right at least 50% of the time.
Now that I know this, it makes life so much simpler. You make cross-eyes at me, I automatically assume something’s wrong with you, not me. (Well, USUALLY—unless I’m sneaking gin into the movie theater.) This subtle little shift in perspective has saved me more times than I can count. Because when you get out there in this world, there’s always going to be someone trying to bring you down. Always going to be someone who’s jealous or shitty or unfair. And what, are you going to let that stop you? Shrink you? Put you back into your shell?
You have the right to exist as you are.
Being a chameleon might seem like a good thing, until you realize it doesn’t make you versatile: it makes you invisible."
~ Ash Ambirge, The Middle Finger Project
Learning to trust yourSELF, to rely on your intuition, to value your unique worth, instead of taking the cue from others is key to finding your power. Especially as a dancer who is raised to please and see your worth based on how others see you--your teachers, the audience, your peers--it is essential that you do the work on your own to find your sense of self and worth.
Most of the people you seek approval from in the dance world in particular have their own issues to work through, their own insecurities that they never dealt with...and that is going to color how they treat you. Outsiders aren't objective judges of your character. Most of the time they are pretty f*cked up themselves and looking for ways to take their regret, frustrations, and powerlessness out on you. (Disclaimer: I am not saying they are bad people. Most of the time they aren't even doing these things consciously. I'm just saying that you don't know what is going on inside other people...so don't treat their opinions of you as truth.)
That's why you can't base your sense of self-worth on others. That's why you can't walk on eggshells around them trying to be who you think they want you to be. Dig deep and find out what really lights you up, what you value, and the kind of presence you want to be in this world...not to please others but to fulfill your own desires.
To read the original blog on Ash's website, click the button below:
Photo credit: Rachel Neville