Back at the Barre

It’s been a busy few months. Getting wedding planning going, celebrating friends, planning not one, but two productions, a summer intensive, next year’s fall schedule and chugging through one thing on the task list at a time while it just seems to be ever growing.

To be honest, I’ve burned the candle at both ends much more than I am now, but for whatever reason at this time, I’m finding myself more than ever trying to protect myself and what’s going on in my world.

We are working on our production that is hitting the stage in March and I have so many students telling me that they have this, that and the other thing and they can’t be at rehearsals. And I get it, these kids have so many things going on in their worlds right now that I can’t imagine the anxiety they have trying to keep up with everything and making everyone happy.

But I have to be honest, I’m exhausted. This year I have had my character questioned and thrown back in my face when I told a student that they just needed to make a commitment one way or another about dancing. I have had people upset with me when I have said I can’t drive their kids places (it’s a business liability and we don’t have a commercial driver’s license, we are a ballet studio). I have had people tell me why I should do things this way instead of that. I have rearranged and added rehearsals to my schedule to accommodate students so that they can attend extracurricular activities like dances and concerts.

Now let me preface, I am not trying to sound like a victim of my business, nor am I trying to make any one of those parents or children feel guilty in any of those cases. They have their truths, which I understand completely, and I have mine. Also, for every one of those instances I’m lucky and grateful to have parents that want to offer to bring us teachers Starbucks, or tell us what an impact we make, or are so conscientious whenever they are running 4 minutes late to class, and the best thing I’ve heard since I began teaching, was two weeks ago, when a student told me that she felt stifled and not herself at school but felt accepted and loved and her best self at the studio. So take my negativity above with a grain of salt, because after many years of self-chastising myself, I can take the critique and the struggle because I know that I truly try to deliver things out of respect and with love to my students AND parents. I know and appreciate how much they do to put their kids in dance and to get there every week, even multiple days a week.

So, with that disclaimer, what I am saying is that we small business owners, we dance teachers, we educators of children, try to give students opportunities to succeed and learn AND EXCEL at a discipline by being disciplined. We do NOT make a lot of money by putting out productions and performances. We do them to give the dancer experience. To prepare them for the future. By giving them a place where they can learn responsibility and creativity. Where they learn they can show up for the things that they commit to. Some days it will feel like work to them but you know what? We all need to learn that some days our hobbies will feel like work but we show up anyway.

I believe that it is important to teach your kids that when they don’t show up for the things they commit to, they are letting their teammates and their coaches down. And I don’t say this to be harsh, I believe that I am more than understanding of “things happen.” And I more than understand that there are things out there beyond our control. I understand that parents are only one or two people, and they do the best they can to be in all the places for all the kids. I don’t speak to shame or to chastise. I speak because while YES, I would LOVE for my students to be at the mandatory rehearsals they commit to and I would LOVE for parents’ to see that our policies are in a place for a reason (and again, disclaimer(!), most of them do!), I really hope and pray for the future of our kids that they can live in a world where they can excel and really thrive in one or two things, rather than be pulled in 16,000 directions (because if they don’t go do all of those directions they are told they won’t get into a good college, right? BLECH.).

But maybe the bigger problem is the example that we are setting for these young adults and children, WE set the tone for being pulled in 16,000 directions. And I don’t have the answer for it. I expect myself to be a great teacher, business director, fiance and future wife, future mom, daughter, daughter in law, sister, aunt, pure barre teacher, role model, costumer, choreographer, friend, cook, cleaner, dancer, etc., etc. How do our kids think they can only do one thing and do it well when we are constantly going a million miles a minute too?

At this point I’m in a bit of a conundrum, because I don’t think there’s a straight solution. I don’t think there’s a way around all of it, all we CAN do is do the best we can. It’s like I told my students last week, we as humans want to inherently please. Not just please those around us, but we truly want to please ourselves. So thus, I hope for all of us, adults and students included that we can find something that speaks to our hearts. Something that we feel passionately enough about that we still show up, even on the hard days. Something that we carve time out for in our busy schedules. I hope that we learn to handle things on our own because of the confidence in our abilities to show up and work hard. To admit when things DO just pop up that are out of our control. But to still show up, knowing you did all you could do be the best that YOU can be.

And with that knowledge, that I myself am giving all that I can right now, with a heart that is trying to give the best she can, maybe I will find some peace with this chapter as well.

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