Life begins at the first practice; it’s like your childhood.
No matter what routine you learn, the first practice is always the most difficult. You are learning the dynamics of the team, the way of the world. Coaches, like any parental figure, instruct you where to go and what to do. Over and over, the routine is drilled into your body while your mind is stretched and pulled every which way trying to remember every detail of the dance.
However, soon enough, the routine becomes muscle memory, and the real work begins. From there on, it’s all about endurance and passion. It’s all about how bad you want it. It’s all about what you are willing to do to achieve it. Are you going to stick every move or just float through them and allow your team to carry you? You need to learn accountability and personal responsibility for your actions if you want to succeed.
And sometimes there will be bad days. You either you can’t pull it together physically or mentally, and you will need to depend on your team to support you. These people become your everything whether you plan on it or not. It’s important to be surrounded by people you share mutual trust and respect with. Just as much you need them, they need you and need to know they can rely on you.
Have the faith in others that you want them to have in you. Have a little faith your team is working as hard as you. Have a little faith that they are as committed as you. Have a little faith that they will come through in the moments when it counts. At times, this intense level of complete confidence in one another will be misguided. To put it blatantly, that sucks. In dance and in life, there will always be those who don’t care as much as you. They don’t feel the indescribable compulsion to make everyone proud, to avoid the humiliation of making mistakes.
But, inevitably, everyone makes mistakes. How you recover is what sets you apart. Do you laugh it off or cry about it? Do you do it with grace and save face? The first rule you are taught in dance is when you make a mistake, you can’t show it on your face. To me, life is all about how elegantly you can fail and how easily you can convince others that it was the plan all along. True colors are exposed when things don’t proceed the way they’ve meticulously been planned for and the way they’ve been repetitively practiced. Don’t make excuses for your failure; own up to them. You can’t make everyone happy all the time, and sometimes it’s hard to accept that.
This is probably just as hard to accept as the fact that sometimes everything you do isn’t enough. You could do everything right and still not take first place. Like life, dance is subjective. One judge, tantamount to an employer, might like you and your routine, and the next will despise all of the same things. While not necessarily decided arbitrarily, your success depends on the opinion of someone you have no preexisting relationship with. Establishing a connection is key.
It all comes down to those final heart-pounding moments, the culmination of everything you’ve scratched and scrambled for. All you can do is take a deep breath and pray you’ve prepared enough. Think about it: how do you want to feel when the lights turn off and your feet leave the stage for the final time? Will you be content with the things you’ve accomplished, or will you be crushed with overwhelming, monumental disappointment?
It’s nearly impossible to enjoy these mere minutes and see their worth, no matter how the last performance played out until they march away.