burning to win

Burning to Win

I couldn’t be more proud of my team.

Sure, we did a fabulous job at the USA Dance National Collegiate DanceSport Championship, despite the facts that:

  • Over a third of our team are new to the team
  • Over a quarter have never danced competitively
  • Exactly half of our leads are new

But that’s not what I like most, nor is it what I’m most impressed by. I love the team’s attitude about dance. And frankly, I’m jealous.

You see, I’m a competitor. I’ve been competing for something since my little sister showed up in a wicker basket on our (my!) foam-edged coffee table and somebody picked me up so I could meet my friend, nemesis, and sibling. It’s my first memory.

I didn’t like losing from a young age. Mom would throw games in my favor so I wouldn’t get angry, and Dad refused to play Risk with me for a full seven years after my first tearful attempt. I liked being right, winning, and telling everyone who would listen about both of the other two. You would not have liked being around my seventh-grade self.

“But you grew out of it, right?”

Well, I grew upon it. I made the rough edges a little less rough and discovered some charisma I’d been previously unaware of. (Aside: if you want your kids to be successful, put them in speech or theater. I speak from my own experience and from those of many I know. Communication is gold. The ability to BS is silver.) But these were just extensions, leaves of the tree obscuring the trunk. I still burn to win.

It’s allowed me to chase my goals and achieve things. It drives me to improve past a sufficient level. I take my endeavors seriously.

It doesn’t always serve me, though. Take the weekend of collegiate nationals, for example. I danced at the silver level of the American smooth, American rhythm, and international standard styles in Ohio. I placed fifth, eighth, and third respectively. Pretty good? Exactly. Not the best. My fever burns. It’s not a healthy way to think about it, but what can I do?

I have no aha moment to share with you. I work on it, with it, and through it. It closes as many doors as it opens. It drives me to get third in a national competition, and makes me wonder what I could have done to get through to the number-one position. When I do get number one, I wonder where I would have ranked in the next level up.

My solace, for now, lies in the team. We’ve come such a long way in three months, it’s hard not to be impressed. I’ve seen spines straighten, light bulbs go on, smiles of delight, and brows furrowed in concentration in equal measure. I’m underqualified and overconfident for the job of helping new dancers into the sport, but here I am and I love it.

I don’t think it’s the dancing.
 I don’t think it’s the music.

I think it’s the readiness to learn, the eagerness to try that keeps us going. Talking with people on the bus ride home, I found that many had a similar outlook. We were not entirely pleased with our own performances over the course of the weekend, but we’d loved every second of it nonetheless, and we were ready to watch our videos to see what details of technique, posture, and movement would be on our short list next semester. We wanted the tools to push on. And most of all, we loved our team.

It’s nice to be a part of a big dance family.

I’m excited to see what the next semester will bring, and for now I hope you all find enjoyment in your biological and dance families over the holidays.

 May your shoes be ever well worn-in.

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