On Dedication and Perseverance

I’m very dedicated to the art of dance. That should be obvious by now to my readers.

I have persisted for years through rehearsals, injuries, sore muscles, fatigue, classes, people telling me that I would never be able to be a professional dancer, people telling me that I’m not good enough at it, people treating me like I don’t matter, people telling me that dance doesn’t matter, people telling me that I’m making the wrong career choice because there is no money in it.

The only one of these things that ever made me actually want to quit was other people who made me feel like I’m unimportant or incapable. 

But there is something else that has been threatening me. And it’s not quite fear of failure.

I think often, when confronting this fear, that perhaps my problem is along the lines of this quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous? -Marianne Williamson

But on the other hand, I don’t really think that’s it. Though it’s probably part of it.

The manifestation of this unnameable fear is currently auditioning. I am going to auditions all the time, whenever they are posted. Except auditions for really good, well-known companies. I can’t get myself to go to them.

It’s not that I don’t think I’ll get hired. I’m nearly positive I won’t. But I go to other auditions knowing I won’t get hired.

This week, I got a lecture from my boss telling me that she’s worried I’m getting too caught up in practical issues like making money and losing track of my dancing. She’s right, in a sense. But it’s not so much the practical things as this fear.

But after thinking about it, my fear is not about success or failure. It doesn’t really matter to me if I get hired or not. But I am more afraid of getting hired than not. I think the issue comes down to my perseverance. I identify more with my dedication and my perseverance than I do with my success or failure. I identify most with my dream of being a successful professional dancer. I am a professional dancer already, but I dream of dancing for better companies that pay for rehearsal instead of tiny amounts for the occasional performance.

But I am dedicated to that dream as a dream. It’s been my dream for so long that I wouldn’t know what to do if I was actually hired. I would be like Inigo Montoya after he has killed the six-fingered man, having achieved something I have worked so hard for and not knowing what to do with my life having achieved it.

I fear that my success would only bring me short-term joy, while my dreams bring me endless joy and fear–something to live for.

While it’s true I could always improve, always dance for better companies, always become a better dancer, there is something about having arrived that terrifies me.

But on the other hand, perhaps I won’t have arrived. Perhaps there are endless goals out there. Just 10 months ago I auditioned for my first professional dance company, and I was hired, and I felt for weeks as if I had arrived, as if I had achieved all of the goals I had ever set out for, and I felt disappointed to have done so at only the age of 22. And now here I am, fearing the next step, the next goal to seek, the dream of my better future.

And that’s the thing about perseverance. If you’re really dedicated, and you really persevere, you can’t really ever achieve your goals. Nothing will ever be good enough. And that’s exactly the point.

Nothing is ever good enough. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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One thought on “On Dedication and Perseverance

  1. Exactly! I feel the same way about my spiritwork. I love reading about shamans and sadhus and other mystics who are leagues beyond anything I can even imagine myself doing/being, because it gives me something to strive for, something likely to be unattainable which means I will always get to keep reaching for it, no matter how much I progress on my path. I would hate to think I had reached the pinnacle.

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