The strength to walk away…

I walked away from dance yesterday.

It was and continues to be the hardest thing I have done.

The worse part is that I am not walking away from dance, I am walking away from pro/am.

I don’t want to keep pretending that pro/am works for me any more.

I used to think that at least pro/am gives me an option for dancing and that it is better than not dancing at all.  But I was wrong. At least if I am not dancing at all I don’t know what I am missing.  With pro/am I am constantly stuck at the side of the dance hall by myself watching amateur couples practice and work with their partners.  I am constantly reminded of what I lack (a partner), and I am forever on the outside of the dance community.

I don’t really have control over my dancing.  Budget is the first determining factor (because of the high prices), and once that is determined, Boss decides the rest.  I decide how much I practice on my own. Yay me–I can be the poster girl for individual practice.

This hasn’t come up all of a sudden, it’s been a long time coming.  I have been trying to ignore it and to just keep telling myself–pro/am is better than nothing, at least you can afford pro/am, someday you won’t need to do pro/am anymore.

But those lies just aren’t working anymore.  It’s not how I want to dance, and I am ashamed of that. It’s making me miserable and it is time to accept that.

There have been a few things that have brought this about.  First is my health and the effects it is having on all areas of my life.  It makes me feel even more isolated and alone and I am still waiting for treatments to make some sort of impact. But as I wait and try to work through it, it just keeps highlighting to me how alone and unsupported I when it comes to dancing.

I had coaching lessons with two different coaches last week, one for standard and the other for smooth and latin.  While there were some really good points for me as an individual dancer, I realized that most of the lessons, especially in standard, were addressing issues that had to do with couple connection and how we move together.  As I advance in dancing, that is coming up more and more, and there is nothing I can do to improve or work on that by myself.  At worse, I felt that the lessons were more for Boss than they were for me, although I do know it would make my lessons better.

One of the reasons I dance is because I want to be part of the competitive dance community.  I want to feel like I belong somewhere and that there is support from that community when I need it.  Last week I say a concrete example that I am not part of that community and when I asked I was told it wasn’t personal, it was just that they never see me–which is true.  Before I got diagnosed, I was at almost every competitor’s practice and spent time with the competitors.  They even put together a card and chipped in for flowers when I started chemo.  But I had to stop doing those practices because of chemo, and I have never been really given the opportunity to return to them consistently.  All of this just highlights how different I am from the other competitors, and I really don’t want to be different.

On the weekend there was a social dance that I went to and I was really proud that I managed to stay the whole time without feeling overwhelmed after a day of coaching lessons.  It was a huge achievement for me.  But that dance also starkly reminded me how long it’s been since I really danced and did more than just drilling–and again that I have no control over that.  I have never been a social dancer.  I used to go to social dances just for the extra cardio, but as I was sick and able to attend them less that benefit went away.  I also have to admit that I just don’t enjoy doing the same 3 or 4 basic steps over and over, and that is what the leaders here know and do.

There are all sorts of other similar things like that, but in the end, none of the problems have to do with actual dancing.  It’s all about how I have to dance, and how that makes me feel.  I want to be stronger and to think that all of that just doesn’t matter and that I should just enjoy the dancing I can do in my lessons and on my own in the studio.  I want to be stronger so that working on my own is enough.  But I can’t pretend that it is anymore.  It’s just not for the type of dancer I want to be–which is and always has been a competitor.

I am very ashamed to admit that pro/am is not enough and that I don’t have the strength to keep fighting this uphill battle and that after everything I have been through, in the end the best option is to stop doing it.

I feel empty and gutted.

It took everything I had, but in the end I found the strength to walk away from something that clearly wasn’t working.

I have to keep walking.

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7 thoughts on “The strength to walk away…

  1. Don’t be ashamed. Dancing can be a huge commitment and there is nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying “why am I doing this?”. If it isn’t giving you what you want, then the best thing to do is walk away. Certainly not the easiest thing to do but sometimes you have to take the difficult steps. I’m sorry that you feel so left out as a pro/am. That seems unique to your area but many of the points you raised are valid and if pro/am no longer fits, then it isn’t something you should continue to do. Hope you find a way to keep dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hitting the “like” button to say “I hear you!” I hope you don’t mind if I share this because you are echoing so many of my own feelings. It really sucks but you speak the truth. I’m sorry that pro/am isn’t enough anymore but I 100% understand. The main reason I started advertising for an amateur partner all over the place is I know I can’t stay in pro/am forever. Just financially it isn’t feasible and it gets very lonely being on a solo path in a partner world. Don’t give up hope though! Maybe you’re giving this up because something better is coming along!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have my condolences for you as you attempt to make this transition.

    I wish that I could switch places with you. Where I live, Pro/Am has such a hold over everything that it is very hard to find competitions that offer anything more than cursory rounds for paired amateurs, and even in some of those I’ve seen students dancing with their teachers against paired amateurs. That’s why there are so many high-level foreign dancers that have come to this area as dance coaches that ended up moving here to stay, because their ability to make money dancing Pro/Am can sustain them where I live. If you lived here, you could dance Pro/Am forever!

    I wish you all sorts of good luck on your next steps!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely understand how it can feel when you don’t have a dancing partner. It takes courage to listen to your heart and do what you need to do and I applaud you being able to do this. I bet you find this decision makes things work out even better than you imagined in the long run.

    Like

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