A bit over a week ago at dance practice, something amazing happened. I truly believe that our Heavenly Father sent an angel down to earth to help me out with life issues. Lately I’ve been feeling tormented over ballroom dance- I want to achieve so much so fast, that I start to forget why I started dancing in the first place- for pure enjoyment and passion. Every practice becomes an internal struggle. There’s always this incredibly negative, deprecating voice inside my head screaming things like, “You’re doing it wrong!” or “Why can’t you get the f***ing step right?”. You know what they say- you are you’re own worst enemy and your harshest critic. These aphorisms couldn’t be truer.
My angelic savior manifested itself in a middle-aged Filipino lady named Crystal. Crystal is a friend of one of the other dancers at the studio, and she happened to be at the studio that day, watching. After observing my practice with Arkadiy, Crystal and I had a long and heartfelt conversation that completely changed my state of mind regarding ballroom dance and simply any endeavor I pursue in life.
Crystal’s message is that while having ambitions and striving to achieve goals are great things to observe in your life, at the end of the day, what truly matters is neither the number of titles you earn nor accolades received- it is the journey that holds most value. What gives life meaning, Crystal says, is not the quantity of accomplishments achieved, but rather the relationships cultivated during the process and number of lives you have touched along the way. The distorted thought pattern that afflicts many today is that one’s worth is measured purely by one’s achievements and accomplishments. This couldn’t be further from the truth. No human being is defined solely by his or her achievements. Your average John Doe is every bit as special as, say, a world champion ballroom dancer. Cliche as this may sound, everyone is unique and special in his or her own way. For most of my life, I believed that the only way to make myself “worthy” and “accepted” by others was to be the best, to win. In retrospect, this kind of thinking was twisted and unhealthy. Of course, it is great to push yourself to reach your greatest potential in anything you do. But if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, losing your integrity and relationships along the way, the entire journey loses meaning.
Crystal made me realize that the true reward lies not in the number of competitions you win. Momentary glory fades. But the memories, the relationships fostered during the journey, the personal growth- this is timeless. It is what brings color to this life.