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When Dancing isn’t Fun Anymore

Two friends of mine just quit dancing. One quit because the rejection was too much. The other quit because she hated the scene; it wasn’t supporting what she needed as a dancer and she wasn’t growing.

Here are a few things I’ve done in this situation (and a few I need to do more of).

#1. You gotta train. Let’s be honest: Dancing is a lot more fun when you are in high demand (especially with good dancers). No one really wants to pay $15 to sit for 3 hours. You get to be in demand by being well trained. I’m constantly amazed at how much detail goes into making someone a desirable dancer. If I want to dance with awesome dancers, I have to put in the same amount of work they did. And yep, the secret here is private lessons. Lots of them.

#2. Take the lead. If dancing isn’t fun because the skill level is low in your community, take the lead in getting people better trained. Host a practica where people share feedback. Have friends over to work on stuff. Invite a pro to your area to teach a workshop and host them if you can. If you are the most skilled person in the room and everyone else is struggling, build relations with those who show sincere interest in growing. Kindly offer some guidance and coaching for how to advance (i.e., point them to the best pro to work with). Sometimes people simply don’t know what they are missing.

The other option is to literally “take the lead”. Followers, you may love the challenge of learning to lead (and some guys love to follow!). I was amazed at how cool it was to be on the other side. Learning the other role can infuse all new energy to a stale dance life.

#3. Social dancing takes work. I’m an introvert. But when I show up at a dance, I work that room. I do my best to walk the room greeting everyone I know. I may even introduce myself to people I don’t know yet. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for it and I’ll hide in a corner, but it truly makes a difference when I do it. This also helps you stay in high demand because most people like to dance with their friends and those perceived as warm, open and friendly.

Community is a huge part of any partner dance, so do the work to become part of the community you are in. There is a reason it’s called social dancing – we need to be social. On and off the floor.

#4. Drop the expectations. If you aren’t having fun anymore, take a moment to really consider why. How many of those reasons are due to unmet expectations? Just showing up doesn’t guarantee you dances. The best dancers may never notice you or seek you out. Life is a lot easier when you drop the expectations and find a way to make the best of whatever you find yourself in.

No good dancers? Use it as an opportunity to be social and build relationships. Feeling overlooked? Work on your solo dancing or study other dancers. Learn to embrace whatever is happening and make something good out of it.

#5. Go solo. If you dread “working the room” or just want to have fun or simply don’t want to depend on others to make your night fulfilling, try a dance you can do solo. Blues, ecstatic dance, belly dancing, tribal fusion, hip hop, african dance, pole dancing, aerial silks – there are tons of options that put you in full command of your experience.

#6. Take a break. I do this all the time… Sometimes it’s not fun RIGHT NOW. Walk away for a few weeks and you’ll likely come back feeling rejuvenated.  You may realize that what you really need is to try a different style of dance. Your body may simply be worn out. I burn out on dances all the time and rotate through several of them based on my mood.

You may realize that you have some personal issues to work through (rejection, insecurity, lack of confidence) – if so, address it so it stops haunting you. Whatever it is, give yourself a break to rest, heal and reset. And it always feels good when you reappear and people are excited to see you back again.

When it just isn’t fun anymore, all you need to do is something different.

The scene you are in may never change. But you can.

And that is what changes a scene. 

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Why I Didn’t Volunteer This Year

Most years I volunteer throughout the year. Soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Singing at the hospital and visiting patients on Christmas Day. Picking up trash on walks around the neighborhood. Crocheting and donating baby beanies and warm hats for the homeless. Didn’t do any of that this year – except for occasional trash pickup.

The last year was an intense one for me. Between feeling burned out, chaotic friendships, unfulfilling hobbies, health problems, severe diet changes, difficult neighbors, and feeling taken for granted, I had quite the year. This year seemed to be about confronting my own personal demons – over and over and over. I attracted a lot of situations into my life that apparently showed up to forcefully get my attention. I needed to do some healing work in those areas. And that was exactly where a great deal of my energy went this year.

So this year was about me. And that’s why I didn’t crochet a single beanie. That’s why I walked by more trash than I picked up. That’s why we spent Thanksgiving at a swanky restaurant having a glorious dinner with all the fine people who gave their personal chef the day off and therefore had to find some other way to get a hot meal. The soup kitchen hasn’t seen me once this year. And Christmas day, I won’t be singing in a hospital. I’ll be napping on the beach. Because I desperately need a good nap.

This year was a great reminder of how we cannot give when we are empty ourselves. I withdrew a lot this year simply because I wasn’t in a state where I could truly give my time, attention and energy to being there for everyone. This was my year of needing help and support. I simply couldn’t be the provider this past year – I didn’t have it in me to give. I needed my dearest friends to hold my hand this year. I did not have a hand to extend to others.

I never understood why more people don’t volunteer. But now I do. I see how precious it is to have so much in you that you have the ability to give to others. The friend who listens to you, checks up on you, follows up on things important to you… that truly is precious. The person who volunteers 8 hours on Saturday to work with special needs kids… that’s precious.

Really think about that. Those people are sacrificing good nap time to help total strangers. Your friends could be blissfully downing a glass of wine while ignoring their own problems AND yours, but nope – they called you to see how you are hanging in there with your messy breakup. Not many people have the luxury of spending two hours on the phone with you when they have so many things demanding their time, energy and attention.

I’m motivated to get back into having the vibrancy I need to be able to do more of the volunteering that I truly loved doing over the past several years. And I truly do love helping my friends and being there when people need my support or help. But I know that I absolutely have to take care of myself first. My failure to do that this year is what led to my burnout. I didn’t put myself first – until I was forced to do so because I was feeling so broken.

I didn’t volunteer this year because this year I finally volunteered to take care of myself. This will set me up to be able to give even more in the years to come.

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