A topic I have been encountering in real life and on the internet on a fairly consistent basis is anxiety related to swing dancing, usually its one of the following:
“I am afraid to…”
- compete because I won’t do well/people might look down on me/I won’t make finals/people will see me dancing badly/I am not a good dancer and shouldn’t even be in this division/everyone in this division is at a skill level way higher then mine
- dance with (insert person here) because they are a really good dancer/i’m below their skill level/they are in high demand and other dancers will get upset/they are attractive.
- dance to this song because it is too fast/its too slow.
The Good News
If you feel you are the only one in this boat, you aren’t. Its quite normal and many people in the swing dance community deal with these anxieties ranging from newbies taking their first swing dance lessons to seasoned competitors. I’m not exempt from this myself even though I have been in around twenty different competitions at this point there are still some moments that I get nervous and second guess myself beforehand. I’ll even candidly admit there was a follow who I didn’t dance with for a long time, not because she was fairly skilled (which she was), but because I thought she was cute and I was afraid I would choke and mess up my leading.
How To Deal With It
- Realize the logical flaws behind the issues that are causing anxiety: Many people are afraid to dance with people they perceive as “advanced” dancers because of an apprehension that they will bore them. This conflicts directly with the fact that many of them openly say in their classes, in conversations, and online that they are more then happy to dance with anybody as long as they are enjoying the dance and not hurting anybody. Often if you can logically deconstruct why fears are on a weak logical foundation, often they become trivial.
- Find a counterexample to the issue causing anxiety: This is a more specific version of suggestion one, but for people who like weighing pros and cons this is useful. An example is a lot of people feel like they shouldn’t compete because they won’t do well. It can be easily argued the other way that by not competing they are preventing themselves from having an opportunity to do well in a competition.
- Re-framing the anxiety into a positive opportunity: I actually did this in the second point, but re-framing is a great tool to feel positive about an issue that originally may have worried you. A big game changer for myself was when David Fritos told his story about his first competition with Ryan Francois and he mentioned to see competition as not competing against people but with them. Competitions become a lot less intimidating and stressful when one views it as dancing their personal best versus trying to dance better then everyone else in the division.
- Just f$#@!%$ do whatever you are anxious about: You can always go over the multiple reasons of why something won’t work or will be less then optimal. But in reality the best way to make yourself grow as a dancer is to put oneself through those awkward experiences, until it doesn’t feel so awkward.