This post is dedicated to two friends in particular. One of which I had a conversation about being so paralyzed by the fear of "making a mistake" that she was scared to death to go on stage or to auditions. Not a very useful mindset for someone who has chosen performing as a career. The other was a post-performance conversation where we both felt like we rocked it upon exiting the stage but then proceeded to dissect our performance and list all the things we could have done better. By the end, we had both talked ourselves down from our performance high and were feeling pretty lousy about our art and credibility as dancers. Both conversations saddened me because they demonstrated mindsets would never allow real happiness or fulfillment in our art or in our SELVES. Besides these two, I've had countless discussions like this through the years, which only leads me to believe that something has to change. So, to my friends...this is for you. Know that I truly value and appreciate your beautiful art, and you should too!
As dancers, we often get caught up tying our self-worth to our performance. We allow one moment in time to determine whether we are a good or bad dancer, or worse, a good or bad human being. We've all been there...you fall out of a pirouette or mess up a sequence and immediately for days, weeks, months afterwards you are a terrible dancer who can't do anything right. Why bother dancing in the first place when you are just going to screw up and ruin things. Sound familiar? It's as if your self-worth exists in a vacuum where one single performance determines your value as a dancer and whether you can love yourself or not.
Consider this option. Reverse the mindset, and feel good about yourself first. Recognize that there is so much more to you than one performance. Then, let that self-love fuel your performance...not the other way around. If you wait until you have a perfect performance to feel good about yourself, it's never going to happen. There is no such thing as perfection. There will always be things for you to pick apart, criticize, and wish you did better. You will waste your life tearing yourself down, beating yourself up, and hiding your art. This will only make matters worse as you go into your next performance with even less self-esteem than before, perpetuating the vicious cycle. Plus, if you become too concerned about technical perfection, you risk losing your passion and all that makes you unique in your expression of your art. No, you don't have to earn your self-love. Love yourself first.
The same mindset applies when working on your physical body. It's the difference between saying, "When I get the body that I want, then I can love myself;" versus, "I love my self, and because I love my self, I want to build my best body." One is destructive and can so easily lead to a negative downward spiral, taking you further and further from your goals. You fall into a trap of hating yourself because you are not where you want to be, letting this one factor determine your entire self-worth. All you get is negative feedback every time you look in a mirror. This type of mindset won't do much in terms of giving you the power to change your situation.
The other mindset is constructive and builds you up the closer you get to your goals. If you already start from a loving place where you value who you are, that will supply the power and momentum to build your body and life the way you want it. Your already existent self-love fuels your transformation...not the other way around. Plus, this mindset allows you to discover your true "self" - your core that is not based on external accomplishments, flashy presentations, or masked personalities - but your real self that has been hiding, afraid to show herself all these years for fear of being judged, not being good enough, or making a mistake. And, this true self is only enhanced as you transform and work towards your goals. Again, you don't have to wait to love yourself until you achieve your best body. Your self-worth is already there; it's just waiting for you to recognize it.
It's a tremendous shift in mindset. And, it's a huge part of your journey to find yourself. Not to mention, it's also a huge factor in whether you get the most out of your life and your art. I'd say that's a mindset worth exploring, right?!