You’re in The Done Club, and it sure feels good. Doesn’t it?
People are singing the praises of the performances. Oddly, you’re not even sure you want to hear it.
Pictures flood Facebook. You’re too exhausted to comb through them.
Everyone is elated. You just want to cry under the covers…and sleep.Is this you? Are you coming off recital season in a funk? Too tired, too beat up, and too bitter? I have been where you are, a year ago, to be exact, following my own series of performances. I felt lonely, dejected, and sick of carrying it all. I had taken some hard knocks from some rude, demanding parents throughout the season. People defied my policies constantly. I was weighed down with emotion from navigating mental health crises with kids all season. Even at showtime, I had to overcome a host of technical challenges in my theater. The obstacles, the mountain of tasks, feeling like I had lost myself…I might have even said out loud a time or two, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
If you’re feeling this way right now, let me say to you what I needed to hear a year ago:
You are justified in your feelings. Your feelings are valid.
We all struggle. You are not alone.
What you do is valued, appreciated, and needed. Remember that.
You can rediscover your joy. Let go.
You are justified in your feelings. Yes! You can feel dejected while your dance families are jubilant. You can feel inadequate as you watch other studio owners and teachers celebrate big successes. You can feel shame as you try explaining why something so wonderful to everyone else is so burdensome to you. Your feelings are valid.
We all struggle. Yes! We give so much of ourselves to our work, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are not only personally invested, but we are also academically and professionally invested. Dance, the joy of our lives, has become our lives’ work. While it can be richly rewarding, it can also be oppressively taxing. We all experience burnout, anxiety, disdain, aggravation. From time to time, we are all uninspired, less than motivated, and completely exhausted. You are not alone.
What you do is valued, appreciated, and needed. Yes! Slumped in our favorite chairs wearing sweats, squinting through puffy eye lids, nursing glasses of life-really-sucks-sometimes cabernet, feeling sorry for ourselves, we tend to lose focus on the fact that as studio owners and dance educators, we are creators of joy, makers of magic, builders of confidence, and facilitators of fun. We foster friendships, manufacture memories, and ignite passion. Parents value what we do, children love it, and the community needs it. Remember that.
You can rediscover your joy. Yes! You need quiet, peaceful rest. You need frequent hot baths with bubbles. You need high thread count sheets and a room with a view. You need ocean breezes andwoodland trails. You need to hear the laughter of your children, watch their eyes sparkle while they tell you a tale, hold their hands for no reason in the car.
You can find your joy again if you will find yourself.
Let me remind you that you are still a real person who perhaps bakes a mean banana bread, enjoys reading True Crime novels, and loves the smell of campfire smoke. Recall that you like action movies, finding treasures in thrift stores, brewing locally-roasted coffee, and kissing. Put all things “dance” aside completely, and make time for these things. Take a weekend, a whole week, or actually close the studio (yes, you can!), and find you. Let go.
In the midst of your melancholy, be assured that it DOES get better. I mean, it can if you muster the strength to pause the bitterness long enough to take a brief inventory. Your season was rough. Check. Your feelings are valid. Check. You are not alone. Check. Your work means something. Big check.
Now turn your attention to the most important item on the list…you. Skip the “self-care” drivel (we are not talking about treating ourselves to a pedicure and a massage to make us feel better temporarily). Really surround yourself with whatever brings you joy, makes you who you are, and fills your soul. Shed the ego, release the negative energy, and stop chasing the intrusive thoughts. Give yourself permission to limit time spent on dance-related work, or just take time off completely. Let go, and maximize the time required to remember who you are.
Rediscover you, Friend, and you will rediscover your joy. Your studio will be waiting for the real YOU when you get back.