In the late 1980s I was attending dance school and active in the competition circuit. I wanted to be the best dancer I could be and this was the path I was told I needed to be on. So, there I was. I won plenty of times, lost a bunch, and learned that how I felt about a performance and what the judges thought were not always in alignment.
One weekend I was down and out and couldn’t attend the previously scheduled competition. I was in bad shape, so I was encouraged to rest and recoup. We let everyone who needed to, know that I’d be out. Before the weekend was over we got a phone call.
Another parent from the dance school called my mom to thank her for keeping me home. She said that her daughter won the category that I would have been in, so it was good that I wasn’t there.
As a kid, I was super confused when my mom recounted the phone call for me. I had no idea that I had a rival, let alone one from the same studio. I didn’t understand such a deep need to win.
My concern was for the feeling of having done my best at the end of any given performance – and I was a pretty hard judge on myself. The pressure to be better than the other performers was unnecessary. The judges’ appreciation was extra.