This last weekend, I attended Swing’n New Years Dance Camp in Palm Springs and had a fantastic time–one of the best times I have had at a dance event in awhile. There were multiple key ingredients that made this weekend an awesome dance experience for me.
(1) Committing to staying overnight and booking a hotel room for myself. Last time I competed in West Coast Swing at Palm Springs (in August), I drove from San Diego, danced in prelims, and then left as soon as I learned that I did not make it into the next level (semi-finals). At the time, I was so glad that I had not committed to staying overnight because I was too disappointed to want to be stuck in Palm Springs for the night. I skipped out on all of the “fun”, evening social dancing (that follows the competitions) because I felt worthless about my own dancing and not being able to progress to the next level in the competition. This year, I reserved a hotel room in advance and planned on staying at the event whether or not I progressed to semi-finals or, even better, finals. I committed to sticking it out and trying to have a good time no matter what the competition results. And, guess what? I made finals this time!
(2) Sticking to my meal plan. I ate my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day, which is the first time I have ever strictly stuck to my full meal plan, without cutting corners, at a dance competition event. Somehow, I managed to accomplish this in spite of having body image issues…competition pants weren’t fitting exactly as I would have liked them to fit. Normally, I have a lot of anxiety at dance competitions, but having food in my belly definitely helped to ease my nerves. I think starvation put me into a hyper fight-or-flight mode beyond what normal competition adrenaline can accomplish. I was still nervous for my competitions but was not shaky on top of it.
(3) Projecting confidence. My dance instructor, Brandi, tells me that if you walk and dance like you are trying to hide in a turtle shell, the judges are likely to respect your wishes and ignore you. So, I tried playing the game of acting like I am awesome and my dancing definitely was more awesome as a result. Not only was I more consistently asked to dance in social dancing (for almost every song!), I got third place in my Jack and Jill competition, which gave me enough points to move up to the next level in West Coast Swing (from Novice to Intermediate).
(4) Letting myself have fun. Even before I made it into finals or found out that I got third place, I was having a blast. My dancing was feeling and looking good and I really felt like I was in the moment of just dancing and existing and smiling. Even on my drive home, I was singing and jamming in the car to some fun hip hop music, still happy from the weekend dance high.
I am grateful for this past weekend and for all the progress I have made since I went into treatment. I am thankful I persisted and continued dancing through my dance lows and that I am reaping the benefits of all my hard work 🙂