In my teenage years, I’ve dealt with a lot of pressure. The pressure that was put on me by myself, and the people around me. It has shaped who I am right now. So here is a story on how to deal with the pressure we can put on ourselves, or that is put on us by others.
She Blamed it on Herself
It was hot in the dance studio. Jinny had been training, dancing, practicing for hours. All by herself. Her coach and father sat in the corner. Observing her every move. Every slip. Every mistake. Every wrong move of her body and feet would be noticed by them. Corrected, changed, and redirected with words that weren’t the encouraged ones that a young artist needed.
Jinny cried, but couldn’t show her tears. She continued. But as the hours progressed she made more mistakes. The words of her coach and father became more direct, and the weights on her shoulder had become real.
The music stopped. Jinny turned towards her coach and said “I’m gonna take a little break.” Her father looked at her with disgust. He allowed it but wasn’t fond of it.
Jinny held back her tears. Just enough to make her way outside the dance studio. She ran towards the back door. Her tears running down her face. Sobbing. In utter pain. Physically and mentally. She was broken. Battered by the words of pressure spoken by her father and coach. She sank to the pavement. The back alley smelled like sewage, but it was better than the fragrance of disgrace she noticed inside the studio.
Nothing seemed to impress her father and coach. She did everything she could. She training each day, more than 4 hours straight whilst going to college, but it still wasn’t enough. She blamed it on herself. She wasn’t worthy. She wasn’t strong enough.
Around the corner, an elderly woman appeared. She noticed the young lady and heard her soft sobbing. The woman made her way towards Jinny.
Feel and release your fears. See how needless they are? See how they keep you from enjoying life? Unclench your hands. Don’t always look straight ahead. Experience. Adventure. Let yourself live. As the man said, “you’ll be fine” ~ Melody Beattie
What is Fear Doing to You?
“My beautiful young lady,” the woman said. “Is everything alright with you? Why are you sitting in this godforsaken back alley?” She asked Jinny. “I’m fine. It’s nothing. Just a few tears, nothing special.” Jinny replied, forcing out a smile.
“Tears are never just tears, young lady.” The woman looked deep into Jinny’s eyes. “Tears are the carriers of deep grief or extravagant joy. You can trust me with the pain they carrying for you.” The woman said slowly. Jinny looked at the woman, who felt like a blanket of peace, serenity, calmness. The woman waited as Jinny wiped away her tears.
Jinny explained to the woman how much pressure she was experiencing. How her father and coach had expectations of her to win the world dance competition. In just a few weeks she had to perform at the qualifying round for a chance to be among the world’s best dancers. Ever since she was little she had performed, danced all around the room, and she loved it. Yet it was always for fun. Now that there was a chance for her to be the best of the world everything changed. Money, fame, fortune. They changed the dance of love and passion she used to play.
The elderly woman slowly sat next to the young lady. She was still very flexible. “You’re a dancer huh?” The woman said. “I used to be a ballroom dancer when I was just a little older than you are right now.” She continued. “One of the best actually. My partner and I won many prizes and laughed for many hours. Which was the biggest price of them all. Our parents too wanted us to be the best in the world. They had expectations, desires, dreams that they had never fulfilled themselves. All of which were placed into our hands. Every misstep, every mistake we made was noticed by them. They hired coaches, and people to make us the best in the world. And slowly our enjoyment of the dance disappeared. We knew we couldn’t let our parents down, but we also knew that continuing would destroy the game of dancing for us.” Jinny listened carefully to the passionate and captivating voice of the elderly woman.
“We feared telling our parents and coaches that we didn’t want to do it anymore. That we did want to dance, but on our terms. We feared they would stop supporting us, that they would get angry, that…” The woman swallowed deeply and took a deep breath. “That they would separate us, and take our joy for dancing with them.” The elderly woman was touched by her own words.
“You see my young lady there is nothing more destructive to a good life than fear. It takes the joy out of it, it makes you tensed, stressed, anxious. Unable to see the beauty of this moment right now. Let me ask you something, are you still enjoying dancing, or is it covered by the fear of letting others and yourself down?” The woman asked.
“Most of the excuses I made… not enough time, not enough money, not enough knowledge, not the right connections …were just ways to avoid the real bottleneck: Not enough courage. There was always a small step I could have taken—if I had the guts to take it.” ~ James Clear
The Words She Will Never Forget
Jinny looked at her hands. They were shaking from exhaustion and sadness. “I don’t want to,” Jinny whispered.
“What’s that my lady?” The elderly woman asked.
“I don’t want to dance with this pressure on my shoulders. I loved dancing so much, but I see it being destroyed. I see every drop of passion, excitement, and creativity fading away. Without that there’s nothing for me to continue.” Jinny looked down and started crying.
“Now why don’t you tell your father and coach?” The elderly lady asked, knowing that this was the hardest question of them all. Jinny gathered all her courage and strength to speak.
“I fear what they will do to me. They won’t physically hurt me, at least I hope they don’t. But mentally they will beat me up. They will break me even more than they already do. That’s why I continue, I fear that the other option will be worse.” She replied with a smile on her face. She didn’t know what to feel anymore. She felt lost, broken to the core of her being.
The woman waited for a moment. She placed her soft and wrinkly hand on Jinnys’. “Listen to me, very carefully my lady.” The elderly woman spoke, sincerely and compassionately. “The fear of being broken. The fear for what your coach and your father will tell you is weighing you down. That fear is breaking you. Not their words, not their consistent pressure. It is your fear of not being good enough, of not being able to withstand the pressure that is making your every move heavier. That is making your life harder to enjoy and love. It’s not your responsibility to deal with your coach and father’s lack of empathy and wisdom in life.” The elderly woman paused for a brief moment.
“Me and my dance partner we eventually told our parents and coaches that we weren’t going to put in as many hours. That they could help us, assist us, support us, but that the job of improving was up to us. Our coaches could point things out, but if we didn’t want to improve it or change it that would be the end of it. You see my dear, we often allow others to put pressure on us because we allow them to make the rules. We allow them to point out everything we need to improve. We aren’t the ones who decide. We don’t listen to our hearts and intuition anymore. We follow the facts, the numbers, the opinions of others and forget that what got us into dancing was our hearts and intuition. It’s our passion, our love for the sport, for the dance, for the movement that got us into it and made us who we are right now.”
As long as you have love and passion for something there is no reason to quit. But there is a reason to quit listening and following every guideline, rule, and point of critique given by others. You are the dancer, you are the one who has to enjoy it, do it, grow at it. All of which can only happen if you remain the follower of your heart, your intuition. Not the puppet of those who sit on the sideline. ~ Daan Uijterwaal
Jinny looked at the elderly woman and was mesmerized. All of a sudden she saw her mom in the woman’s eyes. Her mom had passed away years ago, but she could speak just as clearly, just as passionately as the woman did.
“You do not have to fear that others will stop supporting you because you aren’t quitting. As long as you have love and passion for something there is no reason to quit. But there is a reason to quit listening and following every guideline, rule, and point of critique given by others. You are the dancer, you are the one who has to enjoy it, do it, grow at it. All of which can only happen if you remain the follower of your heart, your intuition. Not the puppet of those who sit on the sideline. So please my dear, get back into that studio, pour out your heart, your passion. Those who critique you, push you, put pressure on you, only do it because they want you to succeed. But it’s not up to them if you succeed, they are out of the equation. It’s you, my dear. You who dance with the stars of passion in your eyes. You are the one who moves with the grace of the heart. It is you who touches the souls of those who watch with the love that you carry in every move. Don’t let your fear, and the fear of others create that pressure to suppress all of this beauty. Continue with what you love, but pressure has no place in there. It will never make your dance more beautiful. It will only restrict you, make sure your moves become rigged and dull. It is up to you now if you’ll listen to what I just said. You are the dancer of your own life, and you know what’s best for you.” The elderly woman smiled and looked at the young girl. Her eyes spoke truth. They were convinced, open, enlightened on what was to do.