I seem to have finally come to a conclusion to my musings.
And with that conclusion, I also seem to have found a solution–or at least figured out what all of this has been about.
As I have worked through my frustrations with pro/am, I realized that I was missing something–and I began to ask myself what that ‘something’ was.
Frustrations about money, lack of partner and not being able to fully share my experiences are not something new I am encountering. They are all frustrations that have always been concerns the full time I have worked in pro/am.
So, I had to ask myself–what is different now that these frustrations seem less bearable? Once I discovered that, I seem to have found the root of the problem.
I mentioned before that until about a year ago, I participated in regular weekly competitive rounds practice with Boss, run by him and involving almost all of the amateur competitive couples in the community. I was very consistent with them, but as my treatments progress, I became unable to do them, and Boss had another student start to do them too so the practices were reduced from weekly, to monthly, to none. Right now, I can’t remember the last time I did one, but I think it was last September.
There are a few different reasons for the cutback besides my health–Boss also coaches some of the amateur couples so he wanted to be able to watch what they were doing, he also wanted a break, and it was necessary to alternate weeks with other students. Since the fall, because I haven’t been competing and my health has been up and down, I haven’t really pushed to return to the practices. With low endurance and no competitions to prepare for there didn’t seem to be a point.
But it turns out I was wrong. I had just fully missed the point of why these practices were so valuable to me. These practices were never really about preparing for competitions.
What I have come to realize is that these practices were what kept me focused on my goals. They were a weekly check for me to know if my fitness was improving, if my dancing was improving, and most importantly–if I was able to incorporate everything I was doing in lessons and my own practice into dancing full rounds with Boss.
The rounds practices pulled everything together for me. They gave me a regular way to know that the amount of money and work I am doing is worth it–that I am growing as a dancer and slowly moving towards my goals.
Without the practices, I feel like everything I am doing is scattered in 10 different directions and I don’t really have any chance to take the technical things I am working on and put them into my routines in a bit of a ‘real stress’ situation. The one rule of rounds practice is not to stop no matter how much you screw up–you just keep going. If I miss something the first time round, there is usually more than 1 minute of music for me to try and fix it. Almost every practice resulted in some small sense of accomplishment.
That is what I have been missing–the feeling and knowing that I have accomplished something and that what I am doing contributes to my long-term competitive goals. Without them, everything took a sense of ‘randomness’, which being someone who works in a very structured, organized and methodical way is very hard for me to work with and feel comfortable.
So, in the end, that is the ‘deal-breaker’. Being able to complete full competitive practice rounds is the one thing that seems to make the difference for me being able to tolerate the frustrations of pro/am, or to leave it to seek something else.
I told Boss when I was getting ready to restart after my last surgery that having an opportunity to regularly do those practices was one of the most important things for me, but I didn’t realize even then how important. We discussed the possibility of doing them weekly and him having a time to work with his pro/am students away from the amateur couples. Nothing has ever been finalized though, and unfortunately that is something which Boss has been saying he would make available for a very long time. When he first opened his studio he told both myself and his other student at the time that those practices would be included if we took regular privates. From what I understand, hall issues mainly made those unfeasible.
My lesson structure is something which Boss and I need to discuss once he is back from vacation. I need to set out specific goals for myself to help bring me back into focus and I need to set a specific competitive goal to work towards. I also need regular lesson times that work with my work schedule.
He asked me today if I wanted to have a lesson on Friday when he is back. I think he was a little surprised and put out that I didn’t immediately jump at the chance to have a lesson after so much time off, and instead I asked him what the plan for that lesson would be. At this point, he told me he doesn’t have a plan. Since I feel like a lot of my lessons lately have been a little ‘ad hoc’ just to fill the time between my surgery recovery and Boss’s vacation, I don’t really want to have a lesson that doesn’t seem to have any point to it. Especially when I add in that Boss will just be returning from vacation, jet-legged, stressed and preparing for a social dance he is hosting the following night when some of his students will be performing.
He has only been gone 3 weeks, but in that time a lot has happened in my life and my perspective on things has changed a lot. Now that I am finally adjusting to the HT and getting back into a regular schedule for work and strength training and practice, I am no longer ‘coasting along’ trying to fill the time while I am sick. I have slowly been preparing myself to get back to focused training and competitive preparation, and setting myself up so that I can transition to that in the smoothest and best way possible.
I am ready to move past having cancer, and being sick to get back to focused training. I am just not sure that Boss is. And unfortunately, I can’t do it without him.
That’s just pro/am.