Did he really just say that? What should I reply? Shall I pretend I did not hear it? Should I defend myself? Or is it just best to ignore it?
We were all backstage after performing for one of the first times with the Salsa team I was in. A big and influential organizer just said to the leader of our team that: The show was good, but he thought it was such as shame that I stuck out so much among the other dancers. He preferred the old format of the team. And I, did not fit the image of the team.
For your information, the old format was a group of Caribbean ladies, they were shorter, fit, in shape, and gorgeous. A group that I looked up to a lot, and I worked super hard to join. To hear this after all the hard work I put in, broke me. Because the show that night was good, we performed really well. I walked off stage proud of how we did. But that feeling quickly disappeared after his comments backstage.
Insecure, feeling like I don’t belong, and so aware of my imperfections. Now I am sure that most ladies will recognize these feelings. As it is something, we all go through but maybe not talk about too much. Unfortunately, this is how I felt a lot of times. Especially at the Festivals among all the artists, or when getting ready to perform. There have been so many moments I felt like this really was not for me. Always reminding myself of all my insecurities.
My two biggest insecurities? I don’t fit in the “perfect and desired” dancers’ body. And I will never be as good as the other dancers. Both insecurities have played a big part in where I stand today. Because I have learned to use them as a push to continue, instead of as a reason to quit. But it took me a long time, and many tears, to get to there.
The difficult thing with insecurities is that we tend to cling on to all comments that confirm our insecurities. And anything that would contradict it, we tend to dismiss or just not believe. This is so natural but also destructive. What helped me is to put a lot more energy in the positive feedback & comments I received. Instead of focusing on the negative. This helped me put things in perspective. I love quotes, podcasts, inspirational videos. And I came across this one quote: “Instead of wishing you were someone else, be proud of who you are. You never know who was looking at you wishing they were you.” This really helped me. To remind myself.
Do not let it hold you back
Why did the comments at the beginning of this blog hurt me so much? Because they highlighted exactly what I was so insecure about (and sometimes still am). It is good to realize that nothing holds you back more than your own insecurities. But that quitting is not the solution.
I quickly realized that I enjoyed dancing too much to stop because of my insecurities. The focus for me became making sure I would just enjoy, take my mind off the insecurities. So, I started looking for practical solutions. Insecure about my height at a Festival? Put on my sneakers and have an awesome night dancing. Insecure about my figure in a fancy-dress outfit? Change to jeans and a simple top and have the best night out! It turned out that nobody cared if I was wearing heels or dressed up if I was enjoying myself. Because the nights I felt good and confident I would dance non-stop without worries.
I have learned to accept that there are other ladies, way better at dancing, more impressive at performing, and that I can look up to them. But, to not let that affect my own vision of myself. And trust me, some days this is still easier than others. But that is ok as well. I know one thing for sure, focussing on my insecurities will not make me feel better. To quit dancing will certainly not make me happier. What does help to feel better? To make sure I focus on the positive, not get stuck in the negative. And specifically dance wise: Kicking my own butt and making sure I work on being a little better than I was yesterday. So I can be proud of my own progress and not compare it to anyone.
Share & learn
I believe we can all learn so much from each other and sharing our own experiences is the first step. And I hope that me sharing my insecurities can help with that. Because I am curious!
Is this struggle with insecurities something you recognize? How do you handle your own struggle with insecurities? Let me know in the comments!