End with success. Revel in success.
Earlier this year, I had to learn how to juggle for a show. It didn't go well in the end and I ended up having to use and play off the inevitable failure in each show. But I hope that I never forget a piece of advice that my juggling mentor and friend, Evan, taught me.
End with a catch. End with a win.
When you're tossing balls in the air, waiting for one of them to do what it's bound to do as an airborn ball and dive away from you, it's easy to get caught up on the falls, the drops. I had to watch a friend learn how to juggle months before (for a different musical) and he beat himself up whenever one didn't go his way--no matter how good he actually was by that point--and it was painful to watch. I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him it would all be alright. But whenever I tried to pull that kind of thing on him, Dan would just say "I'll be nicer to myself about juggling if you're nicer to yourself about dancing."
Whoa. Low blow, man.
I am a musical theatre major. Dance is a part of my profession. But I didn't grow up dancing; I didn't know that this was what I wanted to do. And when I did decide it was what I wanted to do, I didn't really know what my next steps were. I floundered for my last couple years of high school just trying to figure out the whole college audition situation and not thinking beyond that. So dance was on the back-burner. When I got to college, that ended up biting me in the butt. It still is.
I'll admit it. As of right now, I'm one of the worst dancers in my year, if not the whole program. Some people without training, like me, caught on to at least one of our three disciplines--those being ballet, tap, and jazz. I was not so fortunate. I always appear as though I'm struggling to bring the moves from my brain--because they're at least there--down into my body. I just don't flow. I don't have rhythm, I don't have moves, and, worst of all, I don't have confidence.
And, of course, I do it to myself by saying things like "I'm one of the worst dancers in my year, if not the whole program," and, "I can't dance," or, "I'm a terrible dancer," or any other of the plethora of self-defeating phrases that I've made a constant part of my vocabulary. Now, I do this just so that people know that I know that I'm doing it wrong. I would hate for people to look at me stumbling along and think that I think that I've got it. But that shouldn't matter. It doesn't matter.
As people, something in us is programmed to remember the bad and float by the good. I don't know what it is, and it's more prevalent in some than others. Maybe it's a survival instinct so that when something bad happens like, I don't know, eating a poisonous berry, we remember not to put ourselves through that again. If we live to see the day, at least. Point is, bad memories stockpile while good memories only happen one at a time. We only use them one at a time while bad ones we use to prove points against ourselves.
This is a challenge to overcome. We have to do it step by step. And for me, dance step by dance step. Zoom in on today. Or, more importantly, ten minutes ago when I returned from downstairs to my room to write this. I was practicing pull-backs, which in tap dancing are when you jump up in the air and tap your shoes on the ground for only a moment before returning back to the air and landing on your feet a step back from where you began. They're a common step and natural for some and very, very difficult for others. I talked to a lady who said it took her six years to get them consistently across the floor once. Yikes. Not the motivational speech I needed, Carla!
I was finally taught how to do them less than a month ago. And since then, I've given it a couple goes in class. Not outside because I have no space to dance in my house and tap dancing ruins the floor and a lot of other excuses that certainly aren't getting me my pull-backs. But today, after a couple inconsistent successes last Tuesday, I decided to give them a go.
And I got them.
Not every time, but enough of the time to tell me that this is an achievable thing. I had good runs where I did a lot in a row, and bad runs with many slip-ups. And this was only in about 15 minutes of practice. But I was doing well and my spirits were soaring and I decided to call it quits. Partially because I just showered an hour ago and I didn't want to sweat through my brand new cleanness, but also because I wanted to leave the session with that sensation. A rare sensation for me regarding dance: success.
Yesterday was a bad day for me. I cried in the car as I wailed out to sad songs, was rejected from some jobs, had a crappy situation at a dance studio, and I was feeling overall PMS-y, tear addition (note: my period has not yet come, so I may not even have an excuse). And I couldn't get to sleep. My mind was racing with uncontrollable negative thoughts as a tossed and turned for a half-hour, finally pulling the read in bed with a flashlight card just to steer my mind in a different direction. It helped.
Today, I needed this win. And I got it. And by stopping on that success and letting that be it for me today, what happened to me today, I will keep that success with me for as long as I can before it slips away to some tragedy or some other success. I'm going to revel in it.
Train your mind to revel in success. Ending on a win is one way, because it leaves your brain like that and rewires it as you leave the task there. We can't always control the good and bad things that happen to us. We often let the bad things stick with us and hover over us like a dark cloud. Why not let the good things hang over us like...whatever your favorite thing is? Today, I have a beautiful teal cloud over me, because that's what I like and that's what I choose.
What do you choose?