I’ve been posting lately a lot about challenging yourself (see those weekly challenges!) and about failure. It’s important to understand that, as artists, we don’t always succeed. But that does not mean we should just give up.
Why do I take the time to think up and write up all those weekly challenges? Why do I bother? Because I do them, too. Because I try to improve myself all the time. If we do not challenge ourselves, we stagnate, get bored, and then quit. Or we wonder why we haven’t magically become better dancers. You CANNOT grow unless you challenge yourself. Sorry, law of the universe here, can’t be helped. Enlightenment doesn’t just come from sitting under trees. We must go through trials first, then we can be pleased at our growth.
If you find that you are not growing, that you are not as a good a dancer as s0-and-so (and I dislike making those types of comparisons), or that you aren’t where you want to be with your dance, maybe you should challenge yourself more. Don’t be afraid of trying something new, different, or hard. As I said in my previous post on this subject, humans are afraid of failure. Unfortunately, we also want to be masters of everything we do, right NOW. NOW I say…how about YESTERDAY? Now? How about now? No one has any patience anymore, and growth takes patience (ask anyone who has tried to grow a garden…you don’t get pumpkins in three days now do you?) Yeah it sucks to think about how long it might take you to get where you want to be, but the journey is important. Think about how much fun it will be to challenge yourself every day to be a better dancer. Think of the relief and elation that comes when you finally master that move that’s been your nemesis for the past three weeks. Shouldn’t that be delicious?
Again, I’ve had people tell me they don’t want to take belly dance classes because they think it might be too hard. After much reflection, I have to say this, and it won’t be very nice: that’s a really poor attitude to take. You don’t even want to try something because you don’t want to even take the chance you might not be a genius at it the very first time you try it? I apologize for being mean there, but I think a lot of us need a kick in the pants, not sweet words, to shake us up a bit. You cannot master any form of dance–belly dance included–in six weeks. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen. If your current teacher isn’t challenging you, maybe you should ask for more. Or find another teacher. If all you ever practice are the moves you already excel in, why bother? (of course, as a side note, all dancers should practice even basic moves often, but not to the exclusion of all else).
I like this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Even though he was talking about something quite different, it still applies: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Here’s another, from Robert Louis Stevenson, “We must accept life for what it actually is–a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.”
Rise to the challenge, reach for the stars. Grow, change, evolve. Don’t stagnate, don’t be afraid of failure or of challenges. How can we know what we are made of, if we don’t reach out, fall, get up, and keep going? If it’s worth it to you to be a better dancer, then you have to be willing to pay the price…challenge and growth.