“Success” in your ballet career is not what you think it is.
Every day you enter the studio, you feel the constant pressure from those demons whispering in your ear to be successful, "Hurry up and get there." This attaches an anxiety to your dancing - a belief that you're not good enough until you can prove to the world that you made it:
If I can just get that contract with this prestigious company...
If I can nail a flawless performance when the right people are watching...
If I can land that lead role...
If I can make it to soloist status...
Then, you can finally be happy. Then, you can finally relax, pat yourself on the back, and feel successful. You just have to keep pushing yourself through this misery a little bit longer…
Well, that’s not how things work. Once you get “there,” do you think you will all of a sudden be satisfied? Do you think those gremlins in your head telling you that you’re not good enough will immediately disappear? Do you think you won’t crave more from yourself and your life once you get to a certain point? Do you think the fear of losing the status you’ve built yourself up to won’t chase you? Do you think you won’t be concerned with letting people down once you’re established at a certain level?
Those demons won’t just disappear. Meanwhile, you are throwing these precious years away in your ballet career tearing yourself down, pushing yourself brutally, despising your body and technique, just waiting to get “there”…to the point where you can finally be happy with yourself and your dancing.
But, there is no “there.”
Success is not success if you are miserable. The world tells you all these outside things – status symbols, ranks, salaries, contracts, praise from the critics – make you successful. But, none of that matters if you don’t feel happy and fulfilled in what you are doing right now.
So what if you get the lead role if you can’t enjoy performing it?
So what if you make it into your dream company if you are constantly worried about getting fired?
So what if you make it to principal if you are paranoid about the next girl coming up to take the title from you?
So what if you have a flawless performance if you are only concerned about who sees it and what kind of praise you will get?
If you judge your success by these external factors, you are going to be severely disappointed when you finally “make it” and find yourself still miserable.
Real success can be yours right now. You can be happy and fulfilled in your career every single day you wake up. And, this isn't contingent on any of these external status symbols as proof of your success. It's also not an excuse to give up and not work hard. Here's how to do it:
- Immerse yourself in your art
- Embrace the process of working on yourself
- Enjoy the journey of experimenting, making mistakes, & adjusting course
- Realize the power over your life and career lies in your hands, not these external factors
If you have to torture yourself and endure misery just to get “there,” and then feel paranoid you will lose it all once you do get “there,” are you really enjoying this art that you are killing yourself for? Your career will be over before you actually enjoy your "success." Don't wait to be happy. Your success starts right now – wherever you are along the path. Your success comes from taking your life into your own hands and feeling the power you have over transforming your body and mind...and, then using both of those gifts to create art. Every. Single. Day.
Check yourself: When you think about what really drives you to dance, is it the enjoyment and fulfillment you get from creating art and using your body to tell a story...or is it the status and validation from all these external sources? Which do you think will lead to a more successful career?