Thursday, 28 January 2010

On the Height of the Bar

This is another negative post. I am actually more cheerful overall right now, I'm just having a few negative thoughts I want to get over and done with.

One of the things that first hooked me into pole dancing was the feeling that I was doing something extraordinary. I mean, what percentage of the population can actually pole dance and do tricks? Most people see a pole and do some silly grinding whilst pulling hideous faces. I'm not a person with a long history of dance or gymnastics training, just a slightly feral child- and young adulthood, but I could get good at pole.

With the influx of ballet dancers, gymnasts, trained dancers and contortionists into pole dancing all bringing their expertise, performance experience and flexibility to bear I find it really easy sometimes to be discouraged. Even though I love YouTube and all the amazing polers on it, there can sometimes be no quicker way to destroy confidence in your own ability than watching some new dancer with a background in dance/gymnastics flexing all over the place, showing amazing strength and control as well as lighting up their environment with their performance skills. All I can think sometimes is - damn. I'll never ever get that good. I might as well give up trying to be any good.

And I know that's a rubbish attitude to take. My father always went on saying when I got like this: 'you'll always find people who are better than you and people that are worse than you at anything. The only meaningful comparison is with yourself'. That's definitely true, but sometimes its hard to just accept that and not compare yourself negatively to the truly amazing people.

I've not really got any conclusion to this. I'm a bit sad that pole is becoming a bit less of the 'everywoman' activity that I felt it was at the start. But really, that's just how things will be. There is no such thing as a level playing field. Those that have training from a young age to be good at these things will be. I just have to compare me to me, and I've no reason not to be pleased with how I've progressed in two years in all sorts of areas (yup, this is probably around my two-year anniversary at the moment - yay!).

It's amazing how much pole as an activity is progressing. There is so much new stuff and so many variations and it's exciting to be part of something that is constantly evolving. The height of the bar is constantly being raised. It's only a very few who can consistently keep up.


  1. This was an interesting and very relate-able post. It's comforting to know that I am not alone in feeling this way. It's completely normal to compare ourselves to other peoples progress. And while youtube serves as a great learning tool for us, it also contributes to knocking down our confidence and self esteem in this case. I do the same thing, watch a video of someone who's been doing this for 6 months and is way more advanced then me, and then I become disappointed, discouraged and frustrated. And I allow that to consume me. But you are right, it's about progression.

    Here are two interesting articles that discuss a chapter in the book Outliers that sort of relate to your post...

    Stay positive:) From the looks of it, you seem to be pretty advanced to me!!

  2. I agree with the above comment but I do have something to add from the flip side.

    People with dance and gymnastics are also there to inspire and they can pass on valuable training tips. As a dancer / sports person I have sometimes been horrified at what some people think are safe warm up and training techniques! It's only because I've been trained by professionals that I can point this out to people and stop what could potentially be very harmful activity.

    So my advice is, keep going and learn what you can from dancers, gymnasts etc. Everyone has their own style and needs to find it themselves. Your performance video is brilliant, keep on going and don't get disheartened as you are awesome.

  3. Thanks for the comments on this post. I hadn't noticed them until just now!

    I generally find I love looking at how inspiring the amazing people are, but just occassionally I do envy them and feel down.

    I do think that making pole dance your own is probably the best thing you can do. I usually feel great about my pole dancing, but hey, everyone gets discouraged and self-critical sometimes :(