Competition and jealousy
When I was younger, I took Irish dance lessons with my best friend (let’s call her Erin). Like in many pole dance studios, students in our dance school were grouped into different levels based on the complexity of the dance steps we knew. In order to advance to a higher level, we each had to compete for a certain rank in various categories in a competition. We competed against both those from other dance schools and our own, so Erin and I were constantly in direct competition with one another.
Although Erin and I had started out in the same level, after a few years she began to pull further and further ahead of me. I could barely keep up. She consistently placed high enough in competitions to advance in at least one category, and I would often just barely make the cut; sometimes, I couldn’t place high enough in a category to advance and would have to repeat the level in the next competition. This was especially frustrating because competitions were only held in my area once or twice a year. Additionally, Erin was able to travel to more competitions than I was and therefore had more chances to compete and advance. By the time I quit dancing, I was seething with jealousy and frustration, and I was a full level behind her in every category.
Did Irish dance ruin our friendship? No – I don’t think she ever knew exactly how I felt because I tried awfully hard to hide it. We were, after all, best friends. But we did grow apart, and I think my frustration with Irish dance fed a lot of other negative emotions I discovered simmering under the surface when our friendship became strained later on.
Honestly, I am not sure of what I could have done differently. I could have practiced more. I could have kept at it. I could have tried harder not to let the competition get to me. But I didn’t have the drive. I remember my parents asking me, “If you’re this frustrated, why don’t you just quit?” At first I didn’t even consider quitting to be an option because I didn’t want jealousy to be the reason I gave up. And if I did quit, I knew I would regret it. It took me a while to realize that I was so burnt out that I wasn’t even having fun anymore. Everything – even the easy stuff – had become a struggle, and after a certain point, I had ceased to reap any enjoyment from dancing. So I quit. I would be lying if I said I don’t still harbor a few regrets and a little bitterness about it. In the end, though, I still think quitting was the healthiest thing I could have done.
Even though I miss Irish dance sometimes, I can’t deny that there is a lot I get out of pole dancing that I didn’t get out of Irish dance. One of the many reasons I was so happy to discover pole was that I could suddenly dance again, free from all of the negativity I felt years before. I would like to think that this is largely due to the fact that I’m older and wiser now, but frankly, as a new student who didn’t know anyone else in the class, there was no one to compare myself to. And there was no one I was competing against. It felt wonderful – I was dancing for myself again and no one else.
I’m not saying that quitting is necessarily the best option. But if you’re so frustrated about something that you’re thinking about giving it up, whether the source of your frustration is pole dancing or otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to put yourself through hell if you’re not even enjoying what you’re doing. Consider your reasons for quitting. Did you fall into a rut that you can pull yourself out of, or has your relationship with your craft become toxic? Is it salvageable? Will you regret quitting, and do the reasons for quitting outweigh the regret you might feel?
If you do decide to quit, so be it. You wouldn’t want to date someone you didn’t at least like, let alone marry someone who made you feel terrible all the time. So don’t beat yourself up about letting go of whatever is causing negativity in your life. Move on, and leave yourself open to the possibility that you might just as soon discover something new that makes you happy.