Looking Straight Ahead - Focusing on yourself instead of comparing yourself to others
During a dance or fitness class, it is always easy to look to the person next to you and compare yourself to them. You take a long look (maybe a little too long even…) at them and wonder to yourself “if they can do it, why can’t I”. You watch their every movement, trying to copy them exactly to achieve the same results, only to fail again and again. It doesn’t matter how easy they make that movement or exercise look, to you it’s the most difficult move to do (at least, in that moment). Your persistent inability to succeed while others float by becomes increasingly frustrating, to the point that you find yourself wondering if you should just quit and save yourself the trouble.
It’s a very common occurrence in the dance and fitness world, and I can guarantee that you’re not the only one who feels it. It is always tempting to compare ourselves to others, and it is easy to put ourselves down when we look at those around us. While it is always good to look for areas of improvement, doing it by constantly comparing yourself to others is often counterproductive. It only increases your frustration, which will in turn make it harder for you to achieve what you’re trying to do since you’re letting your negative emotions cloud your thought process. What is even more harmful is that it can destroy your self-confidence, which makes learning new and more difficult things in the future even more terrifying.
Remember that everyone learns at their own pace, and in their own way
Every dancer and fitness enthusiast is unique. We all learn at different speeds and need to be able to digest information and apply corrections in our own way. And that's okay! Whether you need more time to break down and process the movements, learn better by going through the theory before putting it into practice, or like to jump into things as fast as you can, is your prerogative.
As such, when you're learning something new, there is no benefit to be derived from comparing yourself to the person next to you. You don't know their thought process, their dance and fitness background or what they may be struggling with as well. Focus your energies on your own movements instead of distracting yourself by looking around. Why let someone else's unique journey affect your own negatively, when you could be approaching your own dance and fitness more mindfully!
Sometimes, choosing a fresh beginning for yourself is better than continuing with the pack
If you find that you're continuously struggling with an exercise, dance or specific move, you might want to consider going back to the beginning and having a fresh start. No matter how far you've come along, there will always be road bumps and pitfalls that may set us back. Starting over (e.g. going back to the basic movements for dance, or learning to do a specific step from scratch) is sometimes a blessing in disguise - in our rush to master a new trick, we may skim over the proper technique, which could be dangerous to our physical health in the long wrong and put us at risk of injuring ourselves. Starting from the very beginning lets us slow down, take our time, and ensure that we do each step correctly, helping us develop better.
Many people are often hesitant about starting over because they are afraid that they will fall behind other people. Especially when taking group classes and activities, it is very easy to feel that "starting over" will result in you "falling behind". it is important to remember that dance and fitness is a personal journey and not a race against others. Don't peg your journey against other peoples', because in the end, all our destinations are different.
Dance for yourself, not for others
Above all else, dance and fitness should help you feel more confident and secure in your own body! Whatever reason you chose to do it (to improve your physical health, to help destress, or just for fun!), you need to make sure that it adds value to your health and lifestyle. When we compare ourselves to others, we take away from the joys of dance and fitness, and the only person who suffers is us.