Getting Past Fear
I’ve been wanting to write about fear because it’s something that affects dancers all the time, but honestly, I’ve been too afraid. I wanted to have something wise to say. I wanted to master my fear before writing about it so that I could say THIS is how you do it, guys. I wanted to have it all figured out.
I was afraid recently because I had an audition for a play. I didn’t even know I was afraid until I looked through the house and found myself in my bed, on my phone, starting to write a blog about fear.
It was then that I recognized all the tell tale signs—the self sabotage, the self doubt, the self criticism, the avoidance. (See what I did there, avoid-dance?)
I know enough about fear to know telling myself not to be afraid is useless. I tell people to come to my ballet class all the time. I can see fear in their eyes, they’re afraid to look like an idiot. “It’ll be fun”, I tell them. I try focusing on the joy of dancing instead of the obvious fear. They don’t realize I’m afraid too. I know once we bridge the initial awkwardness, we’ll have a great time, but first we have to get past the fear.
I had to gently guide myself the other day, focusing on doing each next thing to prepare, keeping myself from daydreaming or getting distracted. Those were just fears’ ploys. As I worked on my roles, fear was at me non-stop, weaving fabulous fables of my faults. I redirected her with a firm “that’s not helpful”, made a cup of tea, and picked up my highlighter. I accepted the limited time I had, and put my energy into developing each character.
As I put on the outfit I chose, I let go of my plan of perfection, especially when I realized the humidity made my hair frizzy and I had no mascara. I cut my losses and let it go. I kept focusing on what I needed and what was most important.
It was time to go. I hoped not to be afraid as I left my house. Getting out often helps — once I leave my dwelling I no longer dwell. I looked at the sky and the changing November trees and smelled the damp leaves but fear came along too, laughing at me on the train.
As I arrived at the audition, it was raging loud in my ears, crashing like surf, so that my hearing seemed muted and I greeted my friends awkwardly. I was mortified we had to audition in front of others instead of privately. The room seemed unbearably hot. I began to judge myself again. Fear was winning.
My turn came – the moment of truth. I let go of myself and went into my characters. I allowed everything I’d prepared to come through. At that point I was too busy doing my work to notice the fear that still made my hands shake. When I made everyone in the room laugh, I had them. When I made them all blush, I was sure. Everyone looked at me, but they didn’t see fear at all. It had slunk off into a corner, waiting for the next time. Good try, fear.
Please see the Classes page for my current teaching schedule. I’d love to see you at the barre!
You left out the most important part! You got the part!!!! Congratulations for that, and more importantly, showing us that you don’t wait for the fear to be gone to do something. You let it come for the ride, but force it to take a back seat!
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Thanks Elise!!! I’m having so much fun! Thank you for casting me!
AND you got the part?! Congratulations dear friend!
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Sarah, I LOVE this!
On Nov 14, 2017 10:06 AM, “On The Way to the Barre” wrote:
> Sarah Doudna posted: ” I’ve been wanting to write about fear because it’s > something that affects dancers all the time, but honestly, I’ve been too > afraid. I wanted to have something wise to say. I wanted to master my fear > before writing about it so that I could say THIS is ho” >
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Thank you Mara!
Oh Sarah, this post is absolutely beautiful. I’m so moved by this. I could feel your heartbeat the entire time. I wish that I could say that I couldn’t relate to fear but I totally can. People look at me and think that I’m completely confident but truthfully, most of the time my smile hides how much I’m shaking or I’ll clamp my arms to my body because I’m sweating like a nervous wreck. Thank you for your story of conquering your fear. I’ll be sure to do the same the next time fear comes looking for me.
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