Hey guys! It’s 12:25am right now as I sit in my bed typing away. I’m honestly so tired, but I felt the need to update y’all on my life.
Midterms are STILL going. I have two this coming week– one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. The one on Tuesday is for my really hard class, and it’s 45% of our grade. The Thursday one is a little bit more chill, but I still would like to do well so I can opt out of the final (of the three exams, our lowest grade is dropped, so if you do well on the first two, you basically can skip the third exam altogether!). I spent the whole of today studying, from around 1pm to 11:30pm, with food and youtube breaks in between. As drained as I am right now, I feel very accomplished at my hard work and am confident that I will be able to deliver when exam time comes around. A few weeks back, I stumbled across an instagram post by Mariah Bell, a US figure skater. In her caption, she stated the importance of “trusting your training” when it comes time to deliver. Honestly, these words are so true. Under high stakes and stressful circumstances, things may not always go as planned. The only thing you can control is your training that ultimately prepares you for such moments.
Speaking of skating… my latest obsession is this year’s figure skating Grand Prix circuit, a series of international competitions featuring the best skaters in the world. I went so far as to pay the $60 for an NBC Sports Gold subscription so that I could watch the Grand Prix live. Honestly, I love figure skating so much. I love anything that involves creating beauty through movement and the expression of music. I am certain that one day, possibly very soon, I will be on the ice, skating at adult amateur figure skating competitions. I know that when I love something, I get SUPER obsessed with it, which leads me to work hard and improve quickly. My biggest problem is commitment. I am a very impatient person who wants to see results fast. Unfortunately, it is this impatience that leads me to get discouraged easily and want to give up prematurely. But no. Things are changing. I am Belicia Tang, and I am no quitter. I must choose my battles wisely– namely, pursue the things that matter to me– and tread forth steadfastly with unwavering resolve.
In other news, I have a ballroom dance competition this coming weekend! My first time on the floor in over a year! I am very excited to compete and perform once more… but a part of me is also very insecure about getting back out there. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight since my last appearance, and though I realize that most people will not care, I still feel self conscious, because that’s just me being human. I also haven’t been dancing consistently, with my academic responsibilities consuming most of my time, so my dance technique has deteriorated. So I’m worried I’ll get judged for THAT. I am just such a worry-wart. I wish I didn’t worry so much… I wish I could just have fun with what I do!
Today, my dance partner and I had a discussion about why I didn’t seem to enjoy dancing during practice. I explained to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy dancing… it’s just that I get very serious before competitions, as I want to train hard so I can put out my very best performance on the floor. In gymnastics, training was never a time to have fun. It was all work, work, work. No talking. No laughing. Do either, and you’ll get reprimanded. So is it really that surprising that I don’t smile or laugh during dance training?
The hardest part of ballroom for me is not learning the technique– it’s dealing with a partner. Seriously. For basically all my life, I’ve only had to worry about three things– me, myself and I. Gymnastics is a highly individualized sport. You learn to become a very self-sufficient athlete. You develop a training system that works perfectly well for you, and you alone. You are completely confident and at ease with your own ability to work and compete. How well you did at competition was completely in your own hands. In ballroom, you are only as good as your partnership. You can be the best dancer in the world; but if your partner is sub-par, or your connection is not there, then you’re screwed.
In gymnastics, I’d oftentimes get frustrated and emotional at training. In these moments, I’d run to the bathroom, cry a little, wash my face with cold water, then get back to work. I’d let my volatile emotions run their own course, with me as the only person caught in the cross-fire. In ballroom, when I get frustrated, I find myself taking out my emotions on my partner, whether or not he had anything to do with it at all. It’s a terrible thing, I know. But honestly, transitioning from 10 years in an individual sport to one where I must rely on another individual is NO JOKE. It’s like learning a million new skills at once. Adapting to a whole new way of operating. Ever since dancing with an amateur partner, I’ve learned so much about myself and my ability to work with others.
First of all, I learned that I have a lot of pride. Sometimes too much. I like to be right, all the time. And if I get criticized by my partner, I react in one of two ways: I either jump to defensive mode and start listing all the reasons why I disagree with the criticism, or I internalize the criticism, which gives rise to negative emotions. Really, what I should be doing is listening carefully to what my partner is saying with charity and an open mind, and seeing how we can fix the problem in a rational, emotion-free way.
Secondly, I learned that I can be very domineering in my ways. It’s always me dictating what to do next. What our practice plan should be. How many times we should repeat the dance before moving on. Even down to what music we should play. It doesn’t even occur to me to ask my partner what he thinks about all this. And most of my past partners have let me boss them around, just like that. Like I said, I am so used to operating on my own terms, that bringing another person into the equation is such a huge adjustment.
If there’s one thing that’ll hinder my progression in ballroom, it’s the whole aspect of partnership. If I wish to succeed in mastering this art, it is integral that I learn how to be a good partner. Otherwise, I’ll just spend the rest of my dance career either jumping around partners or dancing with my professional teacher– neither of which are very appealing options.
I also wonder how this translates to my ability to have a personal relationship with someone. If I struggle so much with maintaining a ballroom partnership, how in the living heck will I be able to deal with a serious boyfriend or husband? I am very rigid in my own ways, and I feel that introducing a whole other person in my life and integrating his life with my own would simply create a huge mess. Well, I’m too young to be thinking so far ahead.
I’m gonna go to bed now. Good talk, friends.