Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When the Passion burns so bright, eventually, you're gonna get burned

I've heard this so much in the last few months, from all friends - in school and post graduating:

"I'm losing my love, and motivation to dance, and I don't know how to fix it."

So I wanted to make this post (while I procrastinate things I could be getting ahead on), about my journey through burnout.

Staring in about August, I was dealing with a lack of satisfaction in my dancing skills, running low on energy, and money - due to some medical conditions - my car was slowly dying, and I didn't have the time or money to take it to be looked at, much less fixed. I was losing my love of the dance, although I loved to see friends, and I thought I was just not progressing fast enough for my own tastes, and needed to go to more and do more and take more lessons. Turns out, that's what killed me.

By October, I HATED dancing. The drives, the cost, the drama. The dances were mediocre anymore, and while the friends were great, even the music wasn't inspiring, I was doing the same moves, just to zombie through dances. I felt bad that my friends weren't having the same dance experience with me, because I was frustrated with myself, which just drove me to want to continue to improve, by doing more. "Just work through it" was the attitude and that just didn't work.

I decided I needed some time off. I went to one last event, and had such a bad time, I was willing to bet I'd never dance again. For November, December, and January, I didn't dance, I didn't listen to the music, I didn't watch dance videos.

At first I was so mad. I wanted to blame the way dancers held workshops and things. The costs of them, the fact that they were built around sleep deprivation. The fact that they were not conducive to helping someone with burn out, but instead, exaggerated it. I wanted to blame everyone and everything I could, so I didn't have to admit, that it wasn't a lifestyle I could handle at that moment, and I needed to help me help myself.

So I focused on other things. I worked, I  painted again, I drew, I worked on other craft projects that had been waiting on me to find time to finish them. I played more games, and just rebuilt myself in an absence of dancing. I missed my dance friends terribly, but knew pushing it would just make matters so much worse for me in the end.

By mid January I was feeling like I missed everyone too much, and actually mildly wanted to dance. I didn't have the opportunity, so I never took it and was started to get frustrated again. Finally, early February, I had an opportunity to dance for one night, and I took it. I went out, more nervous than I had been in ages. I walked in the door and a friend greeted me and started my dancing off fairly well. I didn't feel super confident in my skills, knowing I'd be rusty for while.

I was turned down for dances for "rest songs" and "this song is just to fast for me" and then I'd turn around and they had either accepted another's dance offer and I saw them on the dance floor that song with another follow. I was suddenly super frustrated, and having a panic attack about getting back into dancing. I spent the next 3 songs freaking out to friends about how much I shouldn't be there, and I was now an outcast of the swing community. Eventually, a dancer I very much look up to asked me to dance, and spent the entire song talking to me about where I was, and just getting to know me. My next few Lindy Hop dances went pretty well, and I was feeling better. Blues came around, and while I didn't dance a lot, I did dance, and it was they were the easiest dances I'd ever had (not because of their style, but because I felt so comfortable), and I finally felt at peace with where I had chosen to be.

I now listen to Blues music and feel myself moving in my seat again, something that hasn't happened in probably 6 months. I tap my feet to swing music. I watch videos and wanna do what they're doing again, I've stopped seeing it as tedium and see it, instead, as something I still love to do.

Dance burn out happens. To everyone. Sometimes for no reason. Find another hobby to focus on. Invite dance friends over, not to dance, but to play games and have fun in other ways. Take the time to learn something new. When you're ready, you'll know and you can go out, not for an event, but for a night, and see if its something you're ready for.

Dancers, especially dancers who travel, have such a passion for dancing. It's beautiful to watch, but when the passion for an activity burns that bright and burns so high, it doesn't matter how much you wanna fight it, you're going to wind up burned, and if you don't treat it immediately, you'll burn completely out and have to start over. It's possible to do, but you have to go through and do it.

Don't worry when it happens. That's I think the big thing. It's worrisome to watch something slip out of your life, and not know if it's ever going to find its way back in. And maybe you'll never be ready to come back, and it was a great hobby for a while, but you found something that peaks your interests more. Interests and lives change. Don't fight adapting to it, even temporarily. You'll kill yourself trying, and that's so much worse than admitting that you're burned out and need time off.