The One About Competing and Hurt Feelings

Dear Dance Diva,

Part of what I enjoy about competing is the fellowship with other dancers who have become my friends. I always make a point to go to the ballroom to watch them dance, to encourage and to cheer for them. The problem is, my studio-mates don’t do the same thing for me and it really hurts my feelings. A bunch of us – students and instructors -recently attended a ballroom dance competition in Virginia where I danced my personal best, but no one from my studio was there to watch me. It turns out they were all out together having dinner and “lost track of time,” so they missed my events. My feelings were – and still are – very hurt. No one apologized to me and I don’t think anyone would have realized they’d even missed my dancing except that I asked where they were. That’s how I found out they were out to dinner and lost track of time. I’m having a hard time letting go of how I feel about this situation because it’s not the first time it’s happened. I make a point of watching and cheering for everyone and I’m tired of not receiving the same courtesy in return. I feel like I don’t have anyone to support and console me when I dance poorly or to share in my happiness when I succeed.

We are getting ready to compete again in a few months and I need your advice on how to bring this up before we go so it doesn’t happen again.

—Still Licking Wounds

Dear SLW,
I’m sorry your feelings were hurt, but you’re not going to get sympathy from me.
It’s thoughtful of you to make a point of watching your teammates dance, cheering them on and encouraging them, but it’s your choice to do so and if you’re doing it to get something in return, well, in my opinion, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. The same goes for dancing. Dance for yourself, not for others. Sure, it’s fun to share joy, but if you need consolation from your friends when you dance poorly and/or you can’t fully enjoy a positive experience without praise or complements from them, it’s time to reflect on why you’re dancing in the first place. Are these types of feelings restricted to this particular situation or do they surface in other areas of life? If so, perhaps there is some larger issue involved.

Also when competing, the priority is to make certain one does everything necessary to be successful. This means getting adequate rest and fuel when not on the dance floor. It’s possible that your schedule, for whatever reason, typically allows you to watch your teammates, while theirs does not. The fact that you were the only one from your studio competing at the given time (and that it has happened before) suggests this. You may dance a higher proficiency level or different styles than the rest of your friends. There are lots of factors involved and I suggest you consider them before assuming your friends intended any sort of malice.

The bottom line is, my advice is NOT to address this situation. Instead, if you’re having trouble “letting go” of how you feel, try forgiveness. I know what you’re thinking, “…but they haven’t even apologized…” to which I say forgive them anyway. Maybe you feel they don’t deserve it and maybe they don’t, but do it anyway. I’m not suggesting you make a public display of forgiving them either. In fact, I’m suggesting the exact opposite. Simply do it in the silence of your own heart because while forgiveness may be a gift to others, it’s an even bigger gift to yourself.

Dance Diva


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