Lessons Learned from Dancing

Hi Everyone!  I hope your week is going great!  I’m linking up today for this week’s Thinking Out Loud post.  I was inspired last Thursday by Heather at Polyglot Jot.  She wrote a post Thoughts from a Former Dancer and I loved it!  I could totally relate to every one of the thoughts she had!  She got me thinking about my own former dancing and it inspired me to write this post about things that I learned from dancing.

I know I’ve talked about it a little on here in a few posts, but just in case you missed it, I’ll catch you up.  I danced for as long as I can remember growing up.  I practically started as soon as I was walking.  (Maybe not that young, but not far from it.)  I danced all through high school and was on the drill team and also in college.  It was a part of me, almost like it was ingrained in me.  It was my passion and my joy. Dance got me through the rough times because it was always something that I had no matter what else was happening in my life.  It was my constant.  Dance was my entire life.   

All my shoes from my last year of dance in college!
All my shoes from my last year of dance in college!

It wasn’t until after college, when it was gone, that I realized how much I truly loved and needed it.  I found a whole new appreciation for dance.  I also realized there were so many life lessons that I had taken away from my many years in dance. I have now found a new passion in running, and as much as I love it, it’s just not the same.  There’s just something about getting lost in the movements and the music.  The feeling is indescribable.  As much as I miss dancing, I still use lessons that I learned in my everyday life.  Today I want to share those with you. 

The first lesson sticks with me the most.  Several of my dance teachers used to tell us that there is always someone looking up to you, don’t let them down.  That has helped me to live my life in a way that I am proud of.  I live each day making choices that are good for me.  You never know who might be looking up to you.  It could be your child, or a family member, or a friend.  It could be anyone. 

I never want to do something that would make someone doubt me or lose their faith in me.  My college dance teacher told us a story about when she was little, she admired her dance teacher so much and wanted to be just like her.  She said one day after class, they walked outside and her teacher was smoking a cigarette.  She said it completely destroyed her image of her teacher.  I want to be a role model to anyone that is looking up to me, and one day when I’m a parent, I want to be a role model to my kids. 

The next one was from my drill team sponsor.  She ended every practice with, “Always be a lady and smile”.  This kind of goes along with the first lesson.  But, I have learned that you get farther in life with a smile.  At work I am always smiling.  I feel like you can get more accomplished when asking for something if you smile instead of demanding it.  People respect you more.  Plus, I wouldn’t want to be around someone every day that never smiles.  A smile is contagious!

Always Be a Lady and Smile Run and Live Happy

I learned this next lesson my junior year of high school.  But, it has stuck with me and I have had to apply it many times in life since them.  Pain is temporary and it will pass.  This can be physical pain or emotional pain.  Junior year started physical pain, but then turned into emotional pain as well.  It will always pass, you just have to be strong and wait it out.  I worked hard for a spot on the drill team that year, and got hurt the first day of summer practice.  I thought I had just pulled something, so I continued to try to dance.  We were getting ready for competition and I wasn’t getting any better. 

I finally had to drop out of the dance because I couldn’t kick or do the splits.  So, I went to the doctor and learned that I tore my hip abductor, shredded my hamstring, and shredded my IT band.  I was in therapy for 10 months, and was told that I would never dance again!  I even had to learn how to walk normally again.  The physical pain didn’t last long, but the emotional pain of having to be sidelined did, and thinking that I wasn’t ever going to dance again.  I still had to attend every practice and dance class and just watch.  That was pure torture.  But, in the end, when I was all healed, it was so worth it to be able to finally perform with my friends.  It made me enjoy and appreciate that year so much more.     

Another lesson that I learned in dance was there will be disappointments.  In the dance world that could mean not winning a competition, getting hurt, not performing like you wanted to, or not landing the solo in the dance.  It could be anything.  But, just like in life, it teaches you to work harder.  You learn from these disappointments and push on.  There will always be some kind of disappointment in your life; you just have to learn how to handle it.  Dance taught me to not give up just because I was disappointed.  It taught me what it means to have determination and perseverance.  (or stubbornness!)  I turned that disappointment into a positive and learned to work harder and grow stronger.   

One last lesson that I want to share with you is this.  There will always be someone better than you.  I know that probably sounds awful, but let me explain.  This lesson taught me to stop comparing myself to everyone around me.  In every studio that I danced at, there were always better dancers than me.  No matter how much I worked at it, or how many hours I put in practicing, there was always going to be someone better.  Some dancers are born with the natural ability, while others have to work at it.  I was born with it.  But, so were others, and they were better.  Instead of comparing myself to them, I learned from them. 

I now use this same lesson in running.  I will never be an elite runner and I know that.  I run because I enjoy it.  I can’t compare myself to anyone because we all have good days and bad days and are all at different levels with different abilities.  I also do this at work too.  Of course I want to do a good job, but I know that there are people with more experience than me that will always outdo me.  This applies to my life as well.  I can’t compare where I’m at in my life with where others are.  I think this lesson is important to remember so you can keep yourself happy.  If you are constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling down because they did something better than you or have more than you, then you won’t ever be happy.  We need to appreciate what we have. 

Run and Live Happy

These are a few of the lessons that I have taken from my time in dance.  And, in case you were wondering, I did return to dancing after therapy my junior year.  I worked hard to get my strength and ability back, and was fine for several more years.  What was supposed to be my senior year of dance in college turned into another disappointment.  I blew out my knee one week before the recital.  I had worked so hard on my senior solo and my senior group dance that I was determined to not drop out.  I modified all of my dances so that I could still dance. 

The day after the recital, I was in the doctor’s office scheduling surgery to fix my knee.  It was the same doctor that saw me for my hip and to say he was angry with me would be an understatement.  He kept reminding me that he had told me not to dance anymore.  This time he said I was done for good!  Of course, I let that go in one ear and out the other, and worked all summer in therapy to heal my knee.  By the time the fall semester started, I was back in dance class.  I went an extra year of dance, and it was worth it.  When the year was over, there were four of us that had danced all four years together (one of those girls had danced with me since we started as toddlers) and it made it that much more special to be able to share that last recital with them. 

Even though these are lessons I learned in dance, I hope that you can find a way to apply them to your everyday life.  I know I do! 

What is a life lesson that has stuck with you?

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5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Dancing

  1. San

    I loved this post. I used to dance myself when I was younger (not as serious as you, but it was a big part during middle/high school for me) and I think your lessons are spot on and great life advice 🙂

    The last lesson “there will always be someone better than you” is a great one and goes both ways… it’s good to learn that it’s ok that there are people that are better at something than you are (I admire some of the speedy runners out there and feel inspired by them!), but then there are also people (lesson #1) that look up to you. Even though I am not the fastest runner, I have been told by (even slower) runners that I am fast and that felt great, too.

    Disappointment and pain are (unfortunately) part of life, but those are also great lessons that can be learned when you play sports/dance. I should tell you, my Dad was a P,E, teacher in highschool and I have a P.E. degree myself and one of the biggest lessons I learned from him and my studies is that sports teach you so much more than just bodily fitness. Social skills and the ability to learn and relate to others are HUGE parts of it and therefore I feel P.E. is such an “undervalued” subject in schools and should be supported and promoted more aggressively.

    1. Profile photo of Tara


      I agree that kids need to do sports for more than just the fitness aspect of it. You do learn so much from a sport and also from others in that sport!

  2. Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    Love this! Thanks for sharing my post as well! <3 Once a dancer always a dancer!

  3. Rebekah @ Run Away from Zombies

    I didn’t find dance until I was an adult. Expressing myself through physical form and motion was new to me and I found it to be a great joy. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Profile photo of Tara


      Your welcome! It is such a joy!

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