The Trait That Katy Perry Taught Me

I watched a documentary on Katy Perry once. I wasn’t really a fan of her, but it was on Netflix and I love documentaries. By the time it finished I was a huge fan of Katy Perry, not necessarily because of her music (though I do like it haha!), but of her dedication and determination to achieving her dream. She was rejected time and time again, but she knew what she wanted and she didn’t let the rejection stop her for going for it. Her perseverance paid off…obviously!

There was one particular moment in the documentary that stood out to me. She had it really tough in her personal life at the time. Laying in her hair and make up chair she was crying, devastated with what was happening in her relationship. Her team told her that she could cancel her show that night and rest. Katy stood there contemplating the decision and after a few moments she told them to start getting her ready. She decided to go through with the show despite what was happening!

That moment in the documentary continually sticks out to me. I believe it’s one of the things that makes people who achieve their dream stand out from people who do not. The people who achieve their dream have a persistence and perseverance that outweighs the negative around them. They continue to strive and push even when things are going wrong. I believe that all people who achieve their goal, whatever it may be, must have this trait. Because face it, we don’t live in a perfect world and things WILL NOT go our way.

perseversing snail

I never thought I had this trait.  I always thought I was the opposite, always giving in when something didn’t go the way I envisioned. But last year I found out that apparently I DO  have this trait. People were constantly telling me “you never give up”. “When you fall, you always get up again.” Yeah right….

The past two weeks have not been the greatest weeks. My job is quite overwhelming, my visa application was having trouble (again!) , and I haven’t danced as much as I originally planned. 10 classes a week has turned into 2-3. I was so tired that I was beginning to think that I should go back to NY where everything would be so much easier.

Looking back on the past two weeks;  however, I’m starting to see what people mean. Despite all the stress and overwhelming things going on around me last week  I went to 5 dance classes, my first professional level contemporary class, my normal Sydney Dance Company contemporary class, a ballet class, a jazz class, and a lyrical class.  No, this week I haven’t been to a single dance class but every night I’ve been strengthening and stretching for at least an hour, regardless of how tired I am or how much I don’t want to. In addition I practice my pliés and my body alignment in the mirror  for about 15-30 minutes every single day. I’ve also practiced Horton technique twice this week and every Tuesday I’ve been going into the studio to practice turns, jumps, tumbling, and to stretch.  I’ve increased my center split flexibility, my back flexibility, my hamstring flexibility and my ankle flexibility (by 4 cm!) in the past two weeks.  I can hold my leg higher that before, do more turns in a row, and learned two new dance skills ( a toe roll up and a switch tilt jump!) In addition, I was able to keep up in last weeks pro level class, both mentally and technically. I didn’t even compare myself to anyone.

So for me to wake up this morning and tell myself that I am a failure and I’m in the brink of giving up is wrong. My focus has not been on my goal of dancing professionally lately. My job has taken up majority of my brain. I have thought about giving up my dream. But something keeps me going. Something tells me, don’t give up! Keep pushing! Persevering! I have no doubt that in many moments Katy Perry wanted to give up and stop pursuing her dream of being a singer. But she kept going in the tough times. In times like these I must do the same. Regroup, stand back up, and keep running.

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

In my last blog post I alluded to one major thing getting in the way of me reaching my potential in dancing. It’s not the fact that I’m unable to get to all my dance classes. It’s not my finances or the fact that I don’t have enough time in my day. The one major thing getting in the way of me achieving my goal of dancing professionally is ME.

Yup, that’s right. I’m getting in the way of myself. I am my own worst enemy.

I am aware of the disbelief I have in myself and I understand that it will in no way contribute to anything I want to achieve. I’ve researched it and  bought books on it. I’ve tried index cards with positive sayings on it , I’ve tried saying positive things out loud , and I’ve tried focussing on my achievements. These things might help temporarily, but before you know it the doubt creeps in. It is so ingrained in me that I constantly struggle with it. Every.Single.Day. I can’t seem to get rid of it.

I’m really not sure what to do anymore. It’s frustrating because I finally figured out the one thing I really really want to do.  There are so many people who are afraid to chase their dreams or who regret not following their dreams and here I am, actually taking the courage and making the investment. But I just don’t know if I can do it. And that’s an issue.

Then there’s the problem of people telling me that I’m a good dancer. I don’t know if they’re just saying that to be nice or if they really mean it.  People throw around “great job” like it means nothing.  I’m the type of person that wants an “all or nothing” kinda of situation.  There’s a standard of excellence I want to uphold and I want to be the best I can be, not just have people tell me “good job” when it really wasn’t. That’s bullcrap. And because this has happened to me one too many times I actually don’t know if I have enough talent to even have a fighting chance in the industry because I don’t trust anyone. No, talent is definitely not everything. But it IS something and I don’t know if I possess it.

In the end you can have all of the talent in the world, but if you do not have the belief that you can achieve what you set out to do then you never will. That is my biggest problem. Let say I do have the talent to make it in the industry…it doesn’t matter because everyday self- doubt creeps into my puny little brain that can’t seem to keep a positive thought about myself for the life of me. There’s always that voice telling me that I won’t make it.

And that’s that. I don’t have a nice lesson I’ve learned or a lovely ending to conclude with because I haven’t found one. I haven’t learned to believe in myself yet. And until I do I will never truly reach my potential.

Well, There’s a plus….

For the past few weeks I’ve have been focusing on some of the struggles I’ve had to overcome. I’ve talked about learning about  sacrifices I’m going to have to make and some of the negative feelings this journey is bringing up. This blog will discuss a lot of the challenges I am facing, however, I also want to use this blog as a way to celebrate my wins and highlight the challenges I HAVE overcome.

You-are-what-you-think

I am not trying to come across as bragging; however, one of the things I’ve been really trying to take a hold of is that “You are what you think you are.”  I do admit that I focus on the negative way too much. A wise friend of mine once told me that the only reason why I wouldn’t achieve my dream of dancing professionally is because I am my own worst enemy and my disbelief in myself will stop me from getting there. He’s right…

I know that I have a lot of work ahead to fix my technique, improve my flexibility, and gain strength. But the biggest thing I need to work on is fixing my thoughts, changing my attitude and belief towards myself, and stop doubting and having poor self-esteem when it comes to my dance ability.  I’ve been watching SYTYCD thinking “I know that with practice I can dance like those dancers. I know that I am nowhere near my potential and there is so much more I can do and learn.” But right away the negative thoughts creep in, “Who are you kidding? You’re never going to be that good. You’re wishfully thinking. YOU’RE TOO OLD!”

I’ve decided that the NUMBER ONE thing I need to improve is having a belief in myself regardless of who doesn’t believe in me. The ability to see my worth is the first thing I need to learn and then, and only then, will I reach my fullest potential.

So for this week I decided to look back and reflect on some of the positives of my journey thus far in list format:

1) I haven’t had so much determination and focus to reach a goal as I do for this one. It’s an amazing feeling to set a goal and actually put the steps in place to pursue it. For once I am 100% sure that I am in my zone doing what I am meant to be doing.

2) My flexibility has increased dramatically. I would say that I’m at a similar place to where I was when I was competing gymnastics. Actually, I’m more flexible now in some areas, such as my left leg active and passive flex and my hip flexors. I’ve been working really hard to improve my flexibility because I know that it’s one of my weaker areas. It’s nice to finally see all the stretching is paying off!

3) I’ve trimmed down since starting this journey! Since doing so I’ve seen a difference not only in my dancing, but in my overall positive attitude towards myself. Plus I fit into my new favorite pair of jeans now and that’s just awesome!

4) My dance technique has improved more dramatically over the past two months than it has in the past year. I attest this to focusing more on ballet, taking more difficult dance classes, increasing my strength and flexibility and my overal shear determination now that I have put a big goal in place. One of my goals last year was to be able to do a triple pirouette on my good side. Now I can do them on both 🙂

5) I have found amazing support in my friends. There are a few people who see the passion and potential in me and they push me to keep going when I feel down or discouraged. It’s comforting knowing that I have people backing me up and having that support makes a huge difference.

6) I got my first dance audition over and done with. It was kinda scary, not going to lie. But my best friend pushed me to go and I am really glad I did. The audition taught me a lot about what to expect, what I need to work on, and it was actually kind of fun!

A picture of from my first dance audition and my first experience putting on fake lashes! Which sucked!

First dance audition!

 

7) I’ve started networking with some people that I’m hoping will help me reach my dreams! Though I haven’t been able to dance my full time dance schedule yet because I do not have a car to get to all of my dance classes, it’s good to know that some things are coming together 🙂 Yay for business cards!

8) The reason I get discouraged so much is because I am a perfectionist and I want to get things right the first time, but no matter how discouraged I get I am finding that my love for dance is increasing everyday. It’s fueling the fire to keep going and I know that I am doing the right thing but going for it!

9) I am learning so much about myself outside of the context of dance! Some of these things include how to see myself in a positive light, understanding who I am as a person, and realizing what I am capable of.

10) I’m learning to be OK with not being perfect. As I mentioned earlier, I am a perfectionist and if I did poorly in a class I would walk out and start doubting. I have to keep reminding myself that It’s only February and I just started seriously training dance 1.5 months ago. I haven’t even been able to dance my full time schedule yet! This helps me be OK with the fact that I didn’t do as greatly as I would have liked in a class.

Well, thank you for taking the time to read some of the positive points in my journey. Until next week…

I’m in a relationship. His name is Dance.

As you know, this past Friday was Valentine’s Day and in due diligence of this holiday my Facebook page threw up notifications of recent engagements and new relationship statuses. All around me I saw people buying flowers for their loved ones or receiving gifts from anonymous lovers. On Saturday I went to a Valentine’s Day party, and with my single status and all, of course I wanted some cute guy to walk up to me and ask me to dance (how “high school” of me!). But instead I stood there in the corner, alone, looking around at everyone mingling with each other, except me.  I started feeling rather pathetic being that loser girl just staring at everyone hoping someone (guy) would talk to me.  It made me realize how lonely I felt, not only during the party, but on this journey of pursuing my dream of dancing professionally. As my thoughts starting evolving I kept thinking about how there is no way I could ever fit a relationship into my busy schedule.

Actually, I’m already in a relationship. His name is Dance. 

This is not the first time I’ve had a feeling of loneliness.  I often feel it to and from my dance classes in the city. Sometimes I will commute to the city, take my dance class, and commute all the way back home without speaking to anyone. As I sit on the bus by myself I look out the window and watch people driving in their cars. They’re all on their own journey, wherever they’re going, but they’re not on MY journey.

I’ve heard it said before by elite athletes and people in the entertainment industry. The journey to the top is a lonely one. There’s always something to do, or somewhere to be. You have to stay focused and on track, and many times you’re in it alone making sacrifices along the way.

Now, I know I’m not literally alone. I make sure I have time for church and friends and I still try to socialize as my schedule permits. I suppose it’s hard to explain how one can still feel lonely when they have support all around them. But regardless of the support, this journey is hard and I’m doing it alone. The hard work is all on me. The busy schedule, long days, injuries, pushing through even when you don’t want to, doing what you have to do even when you don’t want to… it’s all on me and it’s a very lonely thing.

When I’m on the bus looking out the window, in the back of the dance studio after a long day at work, or looking at Facebook relationship updates, I think to myself “Is it all worth it?”. Even though loneliness is one of the hardest parts of pursuing my dream of dancing professionally, I believe it is. I know that if I were to settle down and get married right now I wouldn’t be happy. I know for me this opportunity I have outweighs the feeling of loneliness. It also helps to know that other people have been through what I’m going through now with all of the hard work and sacrifice. The Olympics are on TV now and I know for a fact that every single Olympian has struggled with the the feeling of loneliness, but they’ve push through it so I can too.

I don’t have a happy, fluffy ending to this blog. It’s a matter of fact, choosing a life like this is a lonely path to take. But I have the decision to either wallow in my loneliness or realize that I am not choosing to pursue my dream for my own selfish desire. Yes, dance is something that is very personal to me, but through my personal experiences  I am able to outpour everything for the greater good of others in the world, whether it’s simply sharing an art or whether I am connecting with someone emotionally.   I am partaking in something that is bigger than myself. In an earlier blog I wrote that Dance is a calling and if I didn’t have that belief then this whole thing would fold. But I have something to give the world and as long as I keep my perspective off of myself, and on the bigger picture of why I decided to pursue this in the first place, all of the sacrifices and struggles I go through make it all worth it.

 

Sacrifice = Dance > Beach

I found the math equation that is going to describe my entire year on this journey to becoming a professional dancer:

Sacrifice = Dance > Beach

This week was a tough one for me as I’m still a little homesick and I have a lot of adjustments happening to my schedule since starting my new role at my job. I have also been quite overwhelmed trying to figure out how my work schedule and my dance schedule are going to fit together.  Eventually, once the adjustment period ends, I know the two will come together. But for now I am freaking out just a tad because I like schedules and organizing my life. Until then I am still in training and the show must go on!

I’ve started taking some dance classes as my current schedule, and of course finances, permit. My original strategy for the year was to start taking classes at the beginner level because these classes were safe. They advertise for dancers with little or no experience, so I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t look like a fool and that I wouldn’t be the worst one in the class. Last week I started with Beginner Ballet, Beginner Lyrical, and Beginner/Elem Contemporary.

I thought that I would stay in the beginner classes for a few months and then as the year went on I would move my way up. Well, my time in the beginner classes didn’t last months; they didn’t even last one week . As I sought out advice on building a “full time” dance schedule I was told to take more advanced classes.  I knew I could probably take the more advanced classes, but they were really intimidating because they were filled with dancers who had real experience… dancers who have been dancing their whole life. Not people like me.

And that brings me to my math equation…

My first realization of this math equation was when I was invited to go to the beach with my friends. There was an intermediate lyrical class going on at the same time, but because I’ve only had two formal lyrical classes under my belt (from last week!) I was a little nervous to be taking one at the highest level offered by this particular dance school in Sydney. I was torn because I knew I should take the class, but I rather go to the beach and avoid it all together. My friend who invited me told me I should go to the class because I committed to this journey and taking this class was part of that (and that’s why it’s amazing to have friends that support you!) I knew she was right… Sacrifice = Dance > Beach 

As I reflected on making this one, small decision about picking dance over the beach I quickly understood that this math equation isn’t limited to just the beach. This journey is going to be full of sacrifices…giving up time with my friends because I have a dance class, or having to wake up early. I’m sacrificing my time at home in order to work so I can pay for my classes. There are going to be so many sacrifices I am going to be making this year.  But the biggest sacrifice by far will be sacrificing my comfort zone in order to make a change in myself. Taking this step to follow my dream is a huge leap out of my comfort zone. I’ve realized that I need to sacrifice my self- doubt and seeing myself as “not good enough”. I need to stop feeling intimidated by others, thinking that I don’t belong in these advance dance classes, or the dance industry, and feeling left out for no reason.  I need to sacrifice the thought of thinking that putting this much effort into training to become a professional dancer is stupid. I believe what I’ve realized in the past week is a really important step in this journey. The real equation isn’t Sacrifice = Dance > Beach. It actually is…

Sacrifice = Dream 

Don’t Give Up or Give In

I got to dance this week, something I haven’t had the chance to do in a couple of weeks being that I’ve moved back to the other side of the world. Though I live in NY, I am actually working in Sydney, something that makes training to be a professional dancer a little more difficult. My plan for this past week was to settle in and try to figure out a way to continue my dance training as I hadn’t exactly figure that out when I left. The original plan was to see if I could dance part time at a full time dance academy but being as:

  1. I’m poor 
  2. I don’t have a car 
  3. Ain’t nobody got time for that
  4. They didn’t exactly accept my plea for help
  5. I probably didn’t try as hard as I could have because I felt like it was pointless because actually I don’t think there’s a point because probably they wouldn’t even take me because they have better things than to worry about my problems and basically because probably they’ve gotten a plea for help like mine probably a million times and they hear it all the time and that’s probably why one of the schools didn’t even email me back, but whatever I don’t need them anyways. End Rant. 

So I needed to come up with a new strategy. As I stared at my computer screen searching endlessly for solutions I became discouraged. I went to bed that night doubting my decision to go through with this endeavor. The next morning I needed to regroup, grow up, and get over. 

This is where the turning point in my week happened. I went into work and got offered a full time position. Waaaaahhhtttt?!

Now, you may be thinking “Doesn’t this mean you’ll have less time to dance?” Well, if you refer back to my points it’s quite the opposite:

  1. I won’t be poor so I will actually be able to pay for my dance training, something that I hadn’t completely figured out before. 
  2. I will be able to afford a car pretty quickly that will allow me to go back and forth from work to dance (and to friends houses, and church, and the beach, and other fun places, like laser tag)
  3. I can find time because I GET TO CHOOSE MY OWN HOURS!… well, for the most part.)
  4. It allows me to create my own full-time dance schedule using my resources around me. So creative-brained me can come up with a creative-brained solution.
  5. Probably it’s better that I don’t dance with a full time dance academy basically as it allows me to be flexible and choose when I wanna dance, where I wanna dance, how I wanna dance. 

Once I got home I started searching online again and I came across some dance schools in the area that fit into my schedule. Before I knew it I had my eureka moment. I decided to comprise my own full time dance schedule that would resemble a full time dance academy’s schedule. I started thinking about all my resources and how I could used them to my advantage. Since I work in a fitness center I have access to Pilates and Yoga classes, plus I have access to the gymnastics facility. Using the schedules from the dance schools, plus my resources from my job I am in the process of putting together a schedule that will set me up for a win this year.

Sha-bang! 

As I was trying to figure out what to write about for this weeks blog I could have chosen to tell you about my dance classes and how they went (really well by the way!), or I could have written about how my first week back in Australia went and how I’m settling in (I really miss home!) Instead I want to tell you that in moments when you feel like things aren’t going to work out…

Don’t give up and give in to your emotions. When things didn’t fall into place right away I had a decision to give in to all my negative thoughts, but instead I tried to focus on what I knew to be true, which is that in this moment, right now, I am supposed to dance. And if that is truth then everything will fall into place. I had to put trust in what my heart was telling me. And I knew that once I went back to dance class it would confirm that my heart was telling me to go for it 100 million percent. So in the end this crazy, super-eventful, mega inspiring week turned out the be a great start this this journey. 

Dance is a Calling

A mentor of mine once told me that dancing professionally is not just a career that someone chooses to pursue, but rather being a professional dancer is better described as a calling. It’s something that a dancer feels pulled to, knowing that he or she does not have any other choice but to pursue it.

I suppose that was my problem. I’ve felt that pull, but I never described myself as a dancer. I was a gymnast, an athlete, but never a dancer. I started gymnastics when I was six years old and continued for the majority of my life. Like any other young gymnast my dream was to be in the Olympics. When that didn’t work out I decided to work towards a collegiate scholarship. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen either because when someone is consistently injured and has to start over and over again in recovery they have the tendency to become unmotivated. Regardless, I eventually decided to try out for a division III school. After a month of tryouts little ol’ me, 30 pounds heavier and extremely out of shape, got the letter of shame telling me I didn’t make the cut. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. You see, despite never being naturally talented at gymnastics it was an escape for me. I enjoyed the feeling of flight, the feeling of swinging, the ability to do things that my friends couldn’t. Even though my peak was two years earlier than this particular tryout,  I worked hard to get to the level I was and I wasn’t going to just throw it away.  I decided to continue gymnastics recreationally and about two weeks later my body protested as I broke my ankle on a tumbling pass I’ve been competing for six years.

I felt like a gross, out of shape failure. I wanted to end gymnastics on a high note, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. After weeks in a cast I decided that I needed to find another sport. I might’ve not been a gymnast anymore, but I was still an athlete. I tried taking an ice hockey class, I tried running, I tried just going to the gym and working out but nothing was fulfilling that feeling that I had when I did gymnastics. That’s when I decided to join the dance company at my college, a decision I look back on the starting point of this journey.

Though gymnastics was my sport of choice and didn’t leave time for much else, I did have experience dancing. I started dancing when I was four or five years old. Eventually I decided to give it up to do gymnastics. But gymnastics and I had a love/hate relationship.  I’ve quit several times out of frustration and found myself going back to dance. Even in gymnastics, one of my biggest strengths and compliments that I would receive most often was the fact that I had a dance ability. Growing up the fact that I could dance was something that I frequently got complimented on. It came really easy to me and, but I never paid much attention to it. Gymnastics was the only thing on my mind…until now.

Over the past two years I have experienced something with dance that I have never experienced with gymnastics. There’s this passion burning inside of me that I never had with gymnastics. About four months ago (Sept. 2013) I started to feel this pull towards dancing professionally. I denied it…I’m not a dancer, I just dance. But it was there and it was not going away. I was too scared to tell anyone in fear that they would laugh at me or think that I was crazy and dumb for feeling this. I couldn’t even say “I want to dance professionally” out loud because I had so much self-doubt and fear. Finally, in Dec. 2013 I had the courage to tell some of my friends and surprisingly they were quite supportive. Several people started dropping this idea in my head that this was more than a change in career or a decision I had to make. Some of them started telling me that I had no other choice, but to take the risk and go for it. I started to think that they were right.

It wasn’t until I started working with one particular dance teacher that the weight of this so-called “calling” to dance started to sink in. She told me “It is something you know you must do in some capacity to feel whole.” That is when I started to fully admit to myself that I had no other choice but to pursue dance, no matter how impossible it seems.

There is a difference between pursuing a fantasy and pursuing a dream. When I was a gymnast in hopes of being in the Olympics I was pursuing a fantasy. It was something that I enjoyed doing, but it wasn’t my calling. I didn’t feel that same instinctual pull that I feel with dance. Now with dance I believe that I am pursuing a dream. No, I do not know what the outcome is going to be. I don’t know if all my hard work will pay off and in a year I will be dancing professionally in a dance company. But I do know that if I do not follow this calling then I will look back and feel like I missed out on a major part of my life. If I do not give it my all then I will always be wondering “what if?”. And in the end if dance is a calling, what choice do I have? It is my responsibility to follow it.

Why I Started This Blog

It has taken me a lot of time and courage to admit to myself, and to the world, that I want to dance professionally, but here I am starting a blog to document the journey.

I am starting this journey really late in the game. I am 23 years old and have only been serious about dance for about two years now. It was only about four months ago that I started contemplating dancing professionally. I am going up against people who have been dancing their entire lives, against people who have been in the industry since they were 16.

It would be silly of me to say that these facts don’t hinder my chances of dancing professionally. There are a lot of obstacles in front of me and I have a TON of work cut out for me. But there IS a chance. It might be small, but it’s there. And it is that little glimmer of hope that has given me the courage.

There are several reasons why I started this blog:

  1. The journey to dance professionally is something that I cannot pursue alone. I want to find others who have had a similar experience to mine. I need support 🙂
  2. I need to be held accountable. This journey ahead of me is going to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done and I need a way to keep myself on track.
  3. I have astronomical self-doubt, but perhaps if I continue to remind myself why I decided to pursue dancing it will keep me motivated to never give up and try my hardest.
  4. I can look back on my journey and see how far I’ve come. I can look back and remind myself why I started this journey in the first place.
  5. I want my journey to inspire others.

I hope that you will join me as I pursue my dream. And by doing so I hope that in my journey you will find the courage to pursue your own dreams.