Story Time | So, You're Not a Dancer Anymore
SIDE NOTE: Hey pals! UGH! Once again, it's been awhile since my last post, outfit or picture on the blog, but life gets busy when you're in college!! This topic has been on my mind for awhile so I thought it was time for another lengthy read.
It's been almost a year since I didn't make the dance team and I've used all this time to reflect and think. For the longest time, I strongly disliked myself for the way things ended and there are still moments when all those ugly thoughts pop up. ...but I've also learned a lot about myself and life in general. So no matter how your dance career ends, here are some key things I went through. They might be relevant to you; they might not. Either way, I hope you get something out of this. Maybe a piece of brutal truth, a weight off your shoulders, advice for your own emotions, or pure entertainment. Here it goes.
p.s. if you aren't a dancer, didn't love dance at the time, or the topic of dance annoys you... then you should probably just pass on this post. :P
So You're Not a Dancer Anymore
Okay, so maybe you will still consider yourself a dancer. You will still dance in your bedroom, take the floor with your friends on a night out, or even go to empty studios or local classes. The only difference is you are no longer affiliated with a dance team/studio/group and so the rest of the world might not think of you as a dancer anymore. And yea, I know I'm gonna get a bunch of shit about how you will always be a dancer at heart and that part of you will never go away, but I'm being technical. So deal with it or don't read this. <3
Any-who. Here are some of the things I've learned from almost a year of not being a dancer.
...side note: these cons will seem a little brutal and dramatic, but I'm just saying how I felt.
losing most (if not all) abilities
This is an obvious one and one that never comes as a huge surprise. You will lose most of your dance abilities. You won't realize it until you try to do something that you used to be good at. For instance, I'm pretty sure I can't do a real turn set. I haven't truly turned since tryouts (lol) and that was almost a year ago. When this happens, just remember this is completely natural. Give your body a well deserved break and a pat on the back for all the intense work you put it through the last however-many years. ...Of course, there are some of you out there who will (somehow) stay amazing at dance and that's awesome if that happens to you, it just didn't happen for me!
missing it all
Again, obvious. You will watch your old team/studio/group and miss it. You will look at old pictures of yourself and remember the "glory days" when you danced. You will find yourself in a YouTube-hole and watch your dance routines from the years past. Anytime your dancer-friends bring up dance, you will be supportive but still secretly miss it and pretend to not miss it. It's okay to miss dance. You've probably danced for the majority of your life, so to suddenly not have something that became a part of who you are, is hard. Personally, it took me forever it miss it less. At first, I missed it all the time. Slowly, I began to miss it less, but as far as I know, there will never be a time where you never miss it. A part of you will always long for those dancing days. For me, I miss very particular moments: dancing on the football field, performing at Best of the Best, cheering on my teammates during practice, and walking off the national's floor after killing a routine. I've learned it's okay to miss things, but it's also okay to let go too.
This one is harsh and probably confusing, but let me explain. ...This one might even be personal to just me, but I thought I'd include it incase anyone else has felt this way... If you have, know you aren't the only one. For awhile, I felt irrelevant to the dancer world. Even though I was still teaching and coaching, part of me felt like I had been pushed out. I felt like people no longer thought I was "cool enough" to know them or be friends with them. I felt like I was no longer validated or respected as a teacher or coach. I felt like I was "worthless" because I wasn't a dancer anymore. I felt like I was irrelevant to very particular people... and realized very fast, exactly who wanted to be my friend for me, versus for my title.
confusion about your identity
Once your dancer-title is stripped away, you will be confused about your identity. We have all identified as a dancer for so long. Heck, I bet most dancers have introduced themselves with, "Hi my name is ____ and I'm on the dance team/studio/group!" It's okay, we've all done it! Being a dancer became an essential part of our being and it was like an entire lifestyle we grew up with. But, that part of your life will be over at some point and it's okay if you struggle to figure out exactly who you are without dance.
...now for the happy stuff (:
less stress and drama
You are lying if you have never experienced drama on a dance team. Even if you weren't the one involved, or if it didn't involve the team, there was always some sort of drama or gossip floating around. You are also lying if you say it (and dance itself) never stressed you out. Which is why the first pro is obvious. Personally, I found myself A LOT less stressed. I am still stressed about my academic and professional life, but I no longer have that extra stress caused from dance: practices, performances and impressing people. I also realized how much I don't encounter drama... it was like an ah-ha moment when one of my friends was venting about her dance team and suddenly, there I was thinking, wow was I always this stressed? and was I always involved in this much drama? Holy cow! So yea, life will become a little more chill. Emphasis on "little" because life is still stressful.
Gone is the term "sorry I have dance practice" or "sorry I have dance really early tomorrow morning." You will finally have time for your non-dancer friends who have put up with your busy dance schedule. Now you get to do whatever and do it whenever. I’m not saying you’re going to go out and get drunk with your friends every single night, because hopefully, you still care about your education and career. I’m just saying you have the freedom to do so if you really wanted to. For me, there have been so many instances where I found myself thinking, “huh, if I were at dance right now I wouldn’t be here.” I got to go to my friend’s birthday dinner on a Tuesday night. I get to watch Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder every single Thursday night. I get to travel to see my friends at other colleges over the weekends. These were all things that I couldn’t do before because of practices, football games or other dance-related events.
I'm not saying dance opportunities are not beneficial, I'm just saying that without dance you will have bigger opportunities for things that can set you up in the long run. These are things (time for clubs, internships, jobs, etc.) that will benefit your academic or future professional career. I know there are some people who have managed these opportunities while staying in dance, but personally, I found that I had a lot more free time to actually take advantage of other events.
You will find yourself with so much more free time. Even if your team only practiced a few times a week, you will realize exactly how much time every dance-related thing took. Whether it was running to get fake eyelashes and restock on bobby pins or cheering a football game. All of that time adds up and suddenly you have that time to do whatever you want. For the first time in my entire life, I have time to successfully finish my homework AND watch my favorite television shows. I now have a real winter break that isn't filled with practices or performances. I fill all my extra time with part-time jobs that I enjoy, going to workout (because I want to, not because I feel obligated to) and MOST importantly, self-care. I set up this blog, re-booted my weird scrapbooking and art journaling hobby, and began taking time to myself. Self-care is essential to our well-being and you will have time to do it.
There are pros and cons to all situations and these are just a few of those for one perspective of my situation. This is what I've learned and I hope you have learned something too. The world goes on and so will we. In the end, we are all incredible beings who will continue to live fully whether we are dancers or not.
I'm not by any means saying that being a dancer is not worth the work. I loved being on dance teams and found so much joy, pride, and love in pushing myself and my teammates towards our goals. I'm not saying that being a dancer is better or worse than not being a dancer. Being on any team is extremely rewarding and every memory from those experiences will always hold a place in your heart. I'm simply sharing what I've learned from my own experiences, so anyone who is no longer a dancer (and was a hard-core dance lover) can remind themselves that life can and will go on without it. If you want to talk to me more about this, feel free to contact me. <3