My last couple of blog posts have been quite long and detailed, so I’m going to try to write a short one. This is about when life is hard, or maybe when just one aspect of life is hard, and it’s a little reminder to me that there are still wonderful things (and people) in the world.
There have only been two times in living memory when dancing hasn’t made me feel better. One was when I’d been freshly broken up with, and the other time I had some of the worst period pain ever (usually moving helps. I was way beyond it this time).
For ages, when I first started going to dance class, it was a struggle to gain the motivation to actually go to dance class. It was always great once I was there, but the being bothered was the problem, overcoming inertia or depression or wallowing or hibernation instinct. But I kept going, and soon I was excited and looking forward to it, because I knew it would make me feel great. I had formed a new habit.
These days, there are two ways in which I enjoy going to dance class:
- I have a blast and go home on a high, full of the joys of moving and creativity.
- It’s really HARD and I feel gammy and unco-ordinated and I CAN’T DO IT.
I want to unpack that second one a bit. We all know about exercise and endorphins and all that good stuff, blah blah, but the reason I enjoy feeling like a three-legged elephant in class is because I can feel new neural pathways developing in my brain. I try and fail and try and fail and try and fail-a-bit-less, and I know I’m reducing my risk of developing dementia in the process. Plus, I work up a wholesome sweat with all that trying. But the main thing is, I know that I’m growing by being challenged.
Also, and this is a big deal, you don’t get good at something without sucking at it first. It’s up to you what you want to suck less at, you get to choose what you’re passionate about and invest your time and attention in it.
And it’s ok to feel frustrated. It’s ok to cry. Please be gentle with yourself. Reward yourself for doing The Hard Thing. And it’s ok to ask for help. The great thing I’ve found about bellydancers is that they tend to be really good at supporting one another. Your dance friends might spontaneously remind you of how awesome you are. But you can always ask for an appraisal of your strengths when you’re feeling low, just as you can ask for constructive critique when you’re feeling strong and ready to up your game.
All this applies to the rest of your life too. I find that it helps, if your mind can give you space, to remember that, even if one thing is hard, other things in your life are great. Maybe your job or your living situation is making you crazy, but you still get to walk somewhere pretty every day, you still can appreciate works of art, you still have affection from people and animals who love you. Maybe you can even make a list of the blessings inside a difficult situation – say if your home life is stressful, maybe you have a job or colleagues who make you feel good and remind you of your awesomeness, and friends and interests to give you places of light. Maybe you can remember times in the past that have been difficult, and notice in hindsight how you have emerged stronger and wiser. I find it helps to make lists of the good things.
All love to you when it ain’t easy.