Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Notating my way through self trust

Hello from Ohio State University!

I have been here 3 days and my brain is officially fried.  Excited, inspired, curious and fried.

I am here for two weeks taking a Labanotation teaching certification course in which we will learn not only to teach dance notation theory, but practice integrating it into our various classrooms.  It is the perfect launching point for my sabbatical starting in fall. 

But, I am not here to write about my adventures in notation but about what it means to be ourselves and to trust ourselves in a learning process.  We hit the ground running. . . on day 2 we were asked to teach a 30 min sample Labanotation lesson!  Yikes! I ended up with circular pathways which is a huge concept that requires a lot of spatial and kinesthetic intelligence to get through the theory.  I taught my class-- and I pretty much bombed it.  It was good for me.

Ok. So, I didn't fall apart completely, but according to my standards of pedagogical perfection-- I was close. 

I have been pretty successful in my life and confronting moments in which I am only partially successful is something I am actively working on.  There is a great theory by Carol Dweck called the Mindset theory.  Her book on the subject basically explains the difference between people who believe they are born with or without talent/skill and those who believe it is something learned. 

While I believe that people can learn (I intellectually know that I am a person), I am still stuck with a heart-centered belief that if I don't do something right the first time, I am simply not good enough.  So, I am actively working on this issue.

Before I even went into the class I told myself, just do what you do and see what happens.  Yet, I got the dry erase marker in my hand, my computer hooked up and BAM! Total self trust panic!  While my head knew this was a learning experience, my heart wanted to be perfect.  More specifically-- I wanted these people to like me! My heart wanted validation that I have self worth through the opinion of the people in front of me. 

Now, if there are people whose opinion would matter,  these instructors are the ones.  These women are kind, compassionate and fiercely intelligent.  These are great individuals in the field of dance notation and in life.  So, I'm not crazy for wanting their approval and wanting their praise.  My feedback sheets from them directly reflected my subjective experience of mediocrity (not terrible, but with lots of room for improvement).  And, it was at that point that I crumbled emotionally.  *sigh*

I had tried so hard to trust myself in the process, independent of others (and their perceived expectations), but I had fallen into the pit again.  I panicked, and in the attempt to prove myself, compromised some of the skills I know I have.  I was trying to please and that was my downfall.

So, when it was all over, I was spent.  Spent from the effort of trying to change. Spent from the experience of panic. Spent from the emotional let down.

But, I recovered. And, that is the real lesson.  Beyond my circular pathways.  I am learning how to become a learner who trusts in the process of learning, who doesn't need to be perfect the first time and will not be crushed when confronting a learning curve.

And, next time my recovery time will be shorter. Then shorter again.  Then one day perhaps I won't fall into that trap at all.  Perhaps I will reach a place in which I can experience the learning process without a stitch of desire for unreasonable-immediate-perfection.  Learning is tough.  

But, if I can learn to treat myself with compassion with learning-- then I truly will be able to learn anything. 

How do you confront your learning?  What challenges have you faced in your learning?  When do you expect yourself to "get it right"? The first time? After three times?  What are your learning right now and how can you be more compassionate with yourself in the process?

1 comment:

  1. Before I answer your writing challenge, can I just point out the circular/cyclical themes in your post? Circles, cycles, spirals – I’m going to choose it was intentional…. You know what else is circular? A good bar glass. When you’re back in CA I think I need to cash in that drink you owe me and have a little face time (not the iPhone kind) with Beth.

    My tolerance to learning is based on what kind of learning. I’m slightly more patient with myself in conceptual learning (although it took a long time to make myself admit when I don’t understand something right off). I was always far less ok with being bad at something physical which is why I steered away from most sports as a kid (still do in fact). That I became a dancer at all is kind of amazing given that!

    The main tool I learned (and why it took me well into my 20’s to decide it was ok) is to ask questions! At some magical Oprah-like-aha-moment I realized if I had a question, most likely someone else did too. Still, I expect myself to have a certain level of aptitude the first time I try something. If I don’t feel I’ve made progress after 2-3 times, I very well might ditch it unless it’s something I REALLY want to accomplish.


    P.S. Do your students ever end their papers that way?