I love competing! You wouldn’t know it if you aren’t in my inner circle, but it’s true. I love it. I’m highly competitive, but I’m also highly sensitive. So, it’s not always the best combination because the person I’m most competitive with is myself. For some people, it’s good to be competitive with yourself because you can push yourself harder, and you have tangible goals, “Be Better than Yesterday.” For me, this is not a good thing because I get caught up in the destination and forget about the journey. I forget that today I am better than I was yesterday, but all I see is that I’m not as good as I want to be. In my head, I know I will get there, but my heart has a difficult time understanding.
What “there” am I talking about? It could be anything really, but what I mean right now is dancing. I love it! West Coast Swing (WCS) is my favorite dance in the world! That’s not hyperbole because I have danced the major styles from around the world at one point or another in my life, and WCS has proven to be the most versatile to me from Frank Sinatra to Top 40 to Rock. It’s a dance that is gaining popularity across the globe.
I want to be a great WCS dancer as a partner and as an individual, but there are no shortcuts. Admittedly, it has taken me two years to fully realize that not only are there no shortcuts, but I actually shortchanged myself by looking for them. I thought a background in theater and music would make it easier to play with the rhythms and connect with my partner. I mean, I even have some background in Blues which all about connection and commiunication, so I should be a success in no time, right? Wrong.
I am, not “was” but “am” currently, getting in my own way. I don’t practice the drills like I should. I don’t take workshops like I should. I don’t hear critique like I should. I have been off in my own little world hoping that the few private lessons I do a month will somehow catapult me to greatness. Well, not anymore.
I am going to be taking a break from competition for a while. How long? I’m not sure; it will be as long as it needs to be. You see, I need some time with me. I need to adjust my attitude and view of this dance I love so much. I need to focus on me and stop trying to “keep up with Jones’s” as the saying goes. I need to put in the time, the work, and the effort required to be the kind of dancer I want to be.
It’s not all about technique. It’s also about attitude. I need to get over myself because I’m not as good as I think I am, and there is always something new to learn and some fundamentals of my dance that I can improve. Nobody is perfect, least of all me.
If I love this dance, then I need to show that on the dance floor. I need to show that every dance I have with every partner is wonderful. West Coast Swing is about communicating and connecting without words with a partner and with the music. No matter what, I need to be confident in my ability to have a good dance regardless of my partner. Some dances, just like some conversations, will be better than others because the chemistry is there, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have good dances all night. I have to choose to have a good dance not be choosy about my partner. I need to stop making excuses. I need to allow my body the time to heal if it needs time to heal. I can’t blame my partner if I choose to dance even when I am not at 100 percent. I mean, I can tell them to please take care of me, but adrenaline kicks in and sometimes the brain checks out.
Ultimately, it’s my job to take care of me. That means taking the time needed to get healthy (because a healthy dancer is a happy dancer), taking practice time seriously, and taking social dancing and competition with a shot of humility.