Managing Expectations

What happens when I perform and I don’t live up to my or my partner’s expectation? I’ve talked about ego in a few postings and it comes back into play here.  Ego can be dangerous as it has an effect on how I interact with myself and others. It can mess with my head if I don’t feel I live up to the expectation of my ego.

It doesn’t seem to matter what caused that shortfall. It could be an injury. It could be distraction. It could be illness. It could be life getting in the way. Whatever it is, it can be harmful to my self-esteem. The kind of harm where I start talking to myself negatively. You weren’t good enough. You didn’t try hard enough. You didn’t prepare well enough. There are so many negative chants that I hear coming from my ego.

What is the point of being so negative though? When I look at the grand scheme of things, one bad performance, rehearsal, or combination doesn’t define who I am as a person or dancer. Though, in the moment, I can let it feel that way. What I present in my dance career doesn’t define me either. So why do I put so much weight on it? Yes, it maybe the way I express myself when my words fail me. It maybe the way I earn a living. It maybe the way I feel good about myself. In the end though, if all that was taken away, what would I be defined by?

Life, career, relationships – these are all fragile things. A dancer’s career can end in an instant with one bad jump. Our careers are short anyway whether they end abruptly due to an accident or injury. There has to be more to life than career. That goes for non-dancers as well. Too often in North American life, we get defined by what we do. What’s one of the first questions I ask on a date to try to get a conversation going? So … what do you do for a living?

It has been engrained in us that our jobs define us. It is okay to be entwined with a job by which I am impassioned. However, what happens if I wake up one morning and I am no longer able to do that job? Do I end up living a miserable life because I no longer can dance or do what I love? I hope not.

Painful as it is to think about, I have to be more than my career. If that isn’t true, it might be valuable to find more meaning in life than just career as it can be taken away so easily. When it does, if there is nothing else to my life, I will become a shell. I will become a shadow of what I thought I was supposed to be. Life’s too short when these curveballs hit me. Find passion in many parts of your life so that you are not defined by a single action. One trick ponies are rather boring after all. I want to be known for more than just what I do for a living, don’t you?

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