Thursday, March 24, 2016

Knoxville, Part 1

Photo Cred: The Ice Chalet

Doubt is a killer.

For months now, I've been living with a tireless pit in the bottom of my stomach. It flares up when I've had a bad practice. It flares up when I'm at my part-time retail job, so far removed from what I really want.

Being a show skater has been my end goal for years. It is a very integral part of what I hope is a lifelong career in skating. But as a 19 year-old, almost a year out of high school, I've been feeling so much pressure to really get it going. 

Now granted, most of that pressure is coming from me. I'm the one worrying. Comparing. Judging. I'm the one who believes I'm a horrible skater just because I've had a bad practice, or not put together because I've made one clumsy mistake. All this pressure I'm talking about is coming from me, not others. But it is no less anxiety-inducing. 

I have an extreme fear of being stuck. It may seem contradictory, given my love of routines and how uncomfortable I can be with new situations, but I live in fear that I will end up stuck. That a year from now, nothing will be really that different. That I'll miss my opportunities to leave my job, be skilled at my passion, create something new. 

That's what was on my mind on a Saturday afternoon in February. I was excited about skating and was making lists of everything I wanted to do...but I was also giving myself a panic attack over the fact that I might not be able to make all those dreams come true. 

And that's when I stumbled on ProSkaters. And, right on the home page, an advertisement for the 2016 Pro Skater Performance Camp and Live Audition in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

I quickly read through everything. Held in March, it's a weekend camp focused on educating aspiring show skaters with on and off ice classes. It culminates in a show with group numbers you learn over the weekend, and a chance to audition a solo. The best part? Casters from major ice shows sit in the front row the entire time. A fun-filled weekend put on by top choreographers, it has a high success rate and many skaters have been cast after being spotted there.

I showed it to my mom. And in the matter of an afternoon, just three weeks before the event, we decided I had to go. 

And I am so glad I did. Doubt is a killer. It's debilitating. And I have spent far too much time worrying about whether or not I'm good enough, instead of simply putting myself out there and finding out. 

I don't believe I'll be getting any offers this go-around. We had the opportunity to speak to all the casters after the auditions, and I have to admit, I was scared. In my 4-H days, I spoke in front of crowds, led groups, and was interviewed constantly. But now, I'm supposed to be an adult going for a real job and unlike my 4-H self, I'm not completely confident in my ability to nail it. And that shows.

And, as I've learned, comes back to haunt me. I'm not overly proud of the first impression I made. I didn't feel put-together, or confident, or strong. My routine was clean, but the performance was sorely lacking. I was nervous and didn't put my best foot forward.

Doubt is a killer. It got to me this weekend, and my skills--my work--suffered because of it. 

I am not allowing that again.

It is the human condition to have insecurities, to sell ourselves short. It's something I've personally dealt with on a seemingly daily basis since Freshman year. I've made a lot of progress towards having confidence in myself, but I definitely take steps back sometimes. Skating, unfortunately, always seems to bring up the worst insecurities. 

I took so much away from this weekend. I learned on ice techniques, some great choreography, what I have to work on, and tips for getting a contract. But I was also made aware about parts of myself I haven't had to deal with before. On the ride home, I made a long list of skating moves I want to learn or improve on. But I think I'll be making a second list of mental shifts to make as well. 

Like to stop feeling so down about this 'rejection', because it was my first time trying. And to stop feeling like I'm running out of time, because no 19 year old can possibly have tried hard enough yet. To spend less time worrying about what others will be wearing/eating/doing, and simply be myself. To realize that no one will think you're silly for trying to sell yourself. To realize that you're trying to be a show skater, and silly is allowed (duh!). To be more present and focused and learning in the moment instead of always running a few steps ahead (or behind!). And to take more deep breaths, and walk up and start talking to more people.

I'll admit, doubt got the better of me this past weekend. I let it control me and it cost me the ability of  making a good first impression. But while doubt may reside in the back of mind for awhile, I no longer have to listen, and certainly not give in to it. I am in control of my life. My choices. And to a large degree, my feelings. I, no outside force, decides if I'm stuck or not. And I am decidedly not. 

Thanks for reading! xoxo

PS-Check back in on Sunday for Knoxville, Part 2 where I share more details on what I learned, who I met, and my program!