Living my life in a ballet studio most of the time certainly taught me how to dance. But what I gained most from my training was not the steps I learned, but the life lessons that I endured. Ballet for most people looks like an effortless and easy career. That is not the reality. What you see flouncing around onstage came with a lot of competition, stress, comparison, and rejection. Now that I have left the world of dance, I know how important those negative experiences were, because the real world is full of them. Here is a list of some life lessons I learned that you might to relate to in your own life!
My confidence was lowered each time I would be rejected for a role I really wanted to dance. I would always put my best foot forward and come prepared to impress the artistic directors, but sometimes, that wasn’t enough. I would get called in to speak with the director for the results, and being told ‘NO’ to your face is terribly discouraging. After a while, I began to question why I was even trying at all.
Over time, I learned that each rejection only boosted my drive to get a ‘YES’. There is always going to be someone in life that simply does not like you. That does not make you any less of a person. You have build resilience toward rejection because there is someone out there that will see potential in you.
Rising Above Judgment
There were plenty of times I would be criticized by my fellow dancers and instructors. There was always something that needed to be fixed, whether that was my technique, my personality, or even my body! I never felt good enough because of the hounding judgments I would receive at dance practice. I even began to agree with what my peers were saying, that I’m “too fat to be a dancer”, “not tall enough to be a soloist”, or “too curvy to be considered a ballerina”.
Judgment like this doesn’t just happen at dance practice; it can occur daily at school, work, or even among a group of ‘friends’. Rising above judgment is the best chance for inner acceptance. Remember who you are as a person, your values, your strengths, and positive things your loved ones say about you. Don’t trust your self-worth in the hands of a judgmental fool. Whatever kind of judgment you face in life, learning to rise above and accept who you are is essential!
I know this one sounds difficult to entirely do, and it is. Stress will never fully leave our lives, but unnecessary stress can. Each time I would have a performance coming up, I would stay late nights at the studio obsessing over my routine. Worry overtook me and everything else in my life at the moment had to be put aside. Once the performance was over, my body would shut down, I would get sick, and sometimes, depressed.
Looking back, all the extra rehearsals might not have been as helpful as I thought. I already knew what I was doing and was ready to perform. I was only adding unnecessary stress to my life and it backfired in the end. The same can be true for people that overbook their schedules, stay late hours at work, or have a perfectionistic attitude.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be a hard worker! But it is also great to be healthy, mentally and physically, so you can actually enjoy what you are doing. Ditch the stress that you can survive without and you’d be surprised how much more you can accomplish!
I hope my life lessons can relate to some part of your own life. What seemed like pretty negative times during my dancing career turned out to be some of the most important times in my life. It goes to show you that learning can be done just about anywhere!