what I learned from winning 3rd place

I write to you from the postpartum stage of the creative process. That moment I’ve been working for and building up to for weeks - months, actually - arrived and is over.  

The positive perspective acknowledges:

I performed my “What A Feeling” Flashdance routine to an audience of about 250 while competing against 8 other really talented and amazing people. I overcame my leg injury really quickly. Friends and family came out to support, and some even got up and danced with me. I won 3rd place.

 

The negative perspective mopes:

I won 3rd place. I didn’t win 1st.

 

It feels ridiculous to write it out, but the truth is I spent some time feeling bad about this, as if all my hard work meant nothing because it wasn’t deemed “the best” by a panel of random judges. I felt like a failure. (I can only imagine how the runners-up feel on So You Think You Can Dance. Oy.)

 

I think it was partly residue from my ballet-trained perfectionist upbringing, which somehow snuck back in, and partly distraction from the fact that something I worked really hard for was over so quickly.

 

Sometimes it’s easier to feel angry and self-defeated rather than to feel the mix of gratitude, pride, and loss – yes, loss – that can come along with a completed project.

 

Know what I mean?

 

It’s reminiscent of the time I read audience feedback cards immediately after performing a new solo piece I created. Of the 20 or so comment cards, about 3 of them were critical and slightly negative. So what did I do? I chose to focus on those 3 and feel terrible about my performance.

 

Why the tendency to focus on the negative?

Can’t we just be proud we’re actually out there doing stuff?

 

Before I get to sharing the video, tell me your thoughts in the comment box below, because I have a feeling I’m not alone in this.

 

What I’m learning is that the self-judger is more critical than any outside eye.

It’s ok to strive to be better.

It’s ok to have some healthy competition.

It’s ok feel sad for not reaching the exact goal you had set out to reach.

But at the end of the show, whether we technically win or lose, we are still only left with ourselves and the comment card we decide to focus on.

 

Let’s celebrate our efforts and focus on the cards that say:

“You are an irreverent pony.”

 

“You are fierce.”

“Dance your dance. You’re strong and you have all the capability to do what you want.”

 

(Those were actual quotes from the comment cards I received back in 2010.)

 

Take in the good stuff and be your irreverent pony self. The world wants more of it.

 

with humble acceptance,

jess

 

p.s. Thanks to my dear friend and Creative Fridays aficionado Stefanie Rennert, we have footage of the performance! Check it out here: