Egos and Dreams, Like Oil and Water
How to Drop Kick Your Ego in Its Dream-Snatching Behind.
So…one of my main defense mechanisms is withdrawal and retreat. Whenever I’m hurt or disappointed, afraid or overwhelmed, I want to curl up in a ball and disappear. Or, in not so dramatic terms, I want to quit. And that’s exactly what happened about four years into my dance career pursuit.
Many moons ago, I moved to Los Angeles to follow my dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Well, I got there. Found work. Got plugged into a studio and dance community, and started my mega hustle towards “making it.”
It took me a bit to find my way, but personal searches led to one relationship, which led to another, and so on. Pretty soon, I had a great agent, solid industry relationships, and an overnight job that allowed me the freedom to audition at a moment’s notice if necessary.
In my mind, I had the perfect formula for success:
Daytime=audition. Evening=take class/network. Night=work. Repeat.
Sleep would have to figure itself out. Food, on the other hand…well, your girl always has time to get her grub on. :)
So there I was. Doing all the right things (or so I thought), but not getting the results I wanted. Don’t get me wrong. I was getting performance, choreography, and teaching opportunities. I was even getting callbacks at a good percentage of my auditions. BUT…I had not yet booked Beyonce’, or any other big name artist for that matter, which at the time felt like failure.
Needless to say, I was tired, barely making ends meet, tired, resentful, tired, bitter…did I mention TIRED?
By this point, my ego was in full take over mode. Instead of recognizing my small successes, all I could focus on was the rejection. I wasn’t moving forward as quickly as I wanted to, and my ego wanted me to quit. So I did.
Or at least I tried to…
I packed my bags and sulked my way back to Texas where I slept for the next month. After my hibernation, I started on a new plan to become an interior designer on account of my obsession with all things HGTV.
While my ego had begun planning my new life as an interior designer, my soul, my true self, was patiently nursing my relationship with dance back to life.
Not long after my return to TX, I started getting an itch to check out local studios as a way to get some exercise (knowing full well that I had no interest in fitness at the time). My search led me to Marvelous Motion where I quickly became a member of the crew and started teaching classes soon after that.
Those of you who know my story know that with Marvelous, I auditioned for America’s Best Dance Crew a time or two, spent 3 months in Shanghai performing and teaching, and fostered relationships that led to a whole slew of other work. Within my first year back in TX, my dance career journey was back on in full swing. Not only that, but I managed to make more money in one year in Houston than all four years combined in LA. (BTW, Marvelous Motion regrouped as I.aM.mE, and went on to win ABDC Season 6.)
Somehow, my new dance career and I had drop kicked my ego in her dream-snatching behind.
Here’s what my experience taught me about dream chasing and perseverance.
It’s okay to take a step back. In our line of work, we’ll get way more rejections than acceptances, which can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming. When you feel this way, it’s okay to press the pause button. Do something else to take your mind off of it. Get some rest. Have some fun. Pull over to rest so your ego doesn’t have a chance to get into the driver’s seat.
My mother always says, “You always have a choice.” In terms of perseverance, you can change your circumstance or change your attitude.
Changing your circumstance may mean resting a bit, as I mentioned before. It could mean transitioning into a different aspect of your career pursuit. Maybe it’s time to reinvent yourself and find ways to incorporate your other interests into your dance career. Or it could just mean changing your location.
Changing your attitude means shifting your focus. You can stay exactly where you are and find peace by focusing on the good instead of the bad. Start focusing on the things you’re grateful for. Maybe kick those affirmations into high gear, or start visualizing and meditating on peace. Think about what your dance life has given you thus far, and imagine yourself doing all the things you set out to do.
The point I’m trying to drive here is simple. Don’t let your ego cause you to miss out on doing the things only you were created to do.
No two dancers offer the same things, and no two dance careers are exactly alike. What is the same, however, is the amount of hard work, dedication, and perseverance that are required to see your dance dreams, or any dream for that matter, come true.
Put your ego in its place, and allow yourself to soar to heights you couldn’t even imagine.
Originally published at www.theworkingdancer.com on March 21, 2016.
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I’m a dancing machine. Choreographer, Performer, Educator, Writer. I’m on a mission to empower dancers to create their careers on their own terms. Read more.