I broke both laces on my dance shoes last night in class. I’d never broken a single lace in my 16 years of dancing, so it was surprising and also extremely frustrating. Nonetheless, I took laces from an old pair, restrung my new ones, and got back up to finish class. Then I stayed after class… making practice about twice as long as usual.
On the drive home, I was thinking about dancing. How Scottish Highland can really suck sometimes. You’d think dance is just dance, but I tell ya… First, you have practice. Long, long practices. It’s generally the same dances week after week which means you’re working either on stamina, grueling details, or both. And no matter what, you’ve got to be trying your hardest – even in a practice run. If you don’t, you’ll either not improve or pick up bad habits or both.
Then there’s competition. Most competition is done in the hot summer months. Our costumes are several pounds, namely the traditional kilt. I’ve got yards upon yards of pleated fabric, knee-high wool socks, and a long-sleeved velvet dress. You sweat a LOT dancing outside in that stuff and you have to be strong enough to elevate with your weight plus the kilt. Growing up, that was especially challenging for me because I didn’t wear a dance kilt but instead a heavy military one.
So what’s my point in all of this?
Well, I was imagining practice. I was imagining competition. I was reliving that feeling of keeping every muscle tense, every movement precise, every jump as equally high and perfectly timed, even maintaining the right look on your face (performing smile or determined countenance)… and I remembered the mantra that always plays in my head. I never noticed it before, but I most certainly am constantly chanting to myself while I dance:
You’re almost there. You’re almost there. You’re almost there.
But sometimes I’m not really almost there. I just have to tell myself that. I get through the first half of Step One and I tell myself, “Excel through the turn! You’re almost there! You just have to do it on the other side!” Step one, I’m saying this. Then I say it for Step Two. Step Three. At Step Four, “You’re halfway done!” And when Step Six arrives and I just want to drop my heels and lose my form, “You’re seriously almost there! Pick up your elevation! Make this the strongest step!”
I definitely hit a wall dancing. Nearly every time I compete, I get to about the middle or 3/4-point of the dance and I just want to slouch, slack, quit. I have to talk to myself to make myself pick it up, telling myself I didn’t work all this time and all this dance right now to quit. I already dressed up and did my hair, too, and that’s a lot of work! So go!
Then when I finish the dance, I feel horrible. I’m sweating, I’m sore, I’m panting and I can breathe because my vest is so tight…but I walk off and feel such a wave of relief that it’s done.
And I tell myself, “You’re almost there! Three more dances left.”
You’re almost there.
That gets me through more than just dancing. It also gets me through the following:
-a track workout
-a XC workout
-a hockey practice
-a timed mile
-a hockey game that my team is winning when the score is really close
-basically any kind of physical labor
-a day with a long, time-sensitive to-do list
-cleaning my room
-essays or reports
-a book, especially if I don’t like it much
-anything checklist worthy
-anything I look forward to and write on my calendar
Yes, any time I feel like my strength, endurance, patience, motivation, determination, whatever is being tested, it’s a matter of almost being there, of pushing aside walls, making up checkpoints, and constantly crossing them off as I reach them.
It’s amazing how much You’re almost there can help me get through anything.