I often hear this from so many dancers (which I am totally guilty of saying from time to time too) regarding their dance technique or the condition of their body:
“I am just trying to get back to normal.”
“I am so far away from my norm.”
“I am almost back to where I used to be.”
There is this false concept of thinking you have to get “back to normal” whenever you feel not at your peak, whether body-wise or technique-wise. You carry around this thought process to motivate your self-improvement quest…and it might work in terms of helping you take action to get better, but it will also tear you down along the way.
Let me give you something to think about.
First of all, there is no "normal." Your body is always fluctuating due to the external circumstances and choices you make that affect your body as well as internal circumstances such as hormones. Even if you lived in a hermetically sealed bubble controlling for all the external factors to maintain an unchanging environment, your body and needs are still going to change with your natural aging process.
Second, why would you ever want to go “back” to normal? This implies going backwards – regressing and being resistant to growth, exploration, and fluctuations. That image you have in your head of when you were 18 years old (or whatever you think of as your "normal") and at the top of your game isn’t real. Those memories are just what you thought of yourself back then. Sure, you might have been at your best considering all you knew at the time. But, the tools and experience you’ve gathered since then have allowed you to get to levels you couldn’t have imagined back then. Chances are, if you could look at yourself objectively 10 years later, you would be able to appreciate how much you’ve grown and matured as an artist since then. But, because that was the best you could do at the time, you have this perception that that was your peak. This desire to “go back” just serves to tell your subconscious that you were already at your prime, you lost it, and now you are not as good as you once were.
If you want to motivate yourself out of self-hatred, this might work. But if you want to get to your next level out of self-love, try this instead.
What you actually need is an appreciation for observing and adjusting your body along the way. There is never a “normal” you can go back to. What is consistent is the need to just observe and adjust. That is what my Bulletproof Ballerina system has taught me – to give my body what it needs in the moment to optimize whatever goal I am chasing. That’s where the real power lies in transforming your life and body, getting to your next level, and finding happiness and fulfillment in your art.
You always want to move forward. That is what allows you to apply what you’ve learned and gained through experience over the years instead of staying stagnant and holding onto this false concept that your peak has already come and gone. The jazz legend, Luigi, had this great saying that could fit in here – “Never stop moving.” There is no going back. There is no normal. There is only growth.
Photo credit: Rachel Neville Photography