I have been upset this past week or so because I have had several bad flow arts days in a row. Normally one or two bad days doesn’t bother me, but a bunch of days in a row really gets under my skin. It causes feelings of discouragement, disappointment, inadequacy, self-doubt, depression, even anxiety. It seems silly to me to have these feelings about myself when I have a few bad days. It really isn’t, though, because as humans we have normal human emotions like these. Still I can’t help but feel a little silly.
To begin with I am not an amazing flow artist, not even close. A year and a half into my flow arts journey – hooping, rope dart, silk fans, poi, dragon staff (lots of different types) – I am still quite a beginner. Now, I have said in previous posts that it’s a joy to be a beginner. It truly is. The problem for me comes in when I have been practicing for so long and only marginally improving. I acknowledge that I can do a lot more things in flow arts than the average person who doesn’t flow. I also fully see on the regular that I am not one of the greatest of artists. I have aspired to be one of them…now I’m doubting myself big time.
It is difficult to watch other artists, day after day, improving more and more and being amazing. At the same time it inspires me, which is why I continue to watch them and try to learn from them. Yesterday was particularly bad. I couldn’t keep the hoop in my hands, and accidentally tossed it into the water, so I tried dragon staff. I’m still having a decent amount of trouble with simpler moves, so I tried rope dart. Yeah, I couldn’t keep the dart off the damn ground. I kept trying but I just couldn’t get it. Eventually I put my props down so I didn’t get further frustrated and discouraged. I sat on the ground and enjoyed the quiet nature around me and the sounds of my husband casting his fishing rod into the pond. Admittedly I became quickly downhearted, but I still enjoyed being outside.
Soon after we got back to our car, I started hearing the familiar background noise in my mind and the chattering of voices. They became louder and started telling me that I should give up flow arts, that I’m terrible at it, that I’ll never be as good as I want to be. To be clear I don’t feel the need to become Instagram famous or anything. I don’t require the recognition of strangers online to validate how good I am at flow arts. I mean, sure, it can be nice having that recognition and validation but it isn’t something I need to feel good about myself. The voices became mean and annoying and louder. Soon there was a dark cloud over my head and depression settled in.
I know I don’t have to listen to those voices. I’ve been able to combat them in the past, but it’s hard to fight them off when I already feel so shitty and even agree with them. They are still lingering a bit today, creating more discouragement.
Another thing I feel is shame. Not only have I spent a lot of money on flow toys this past year and a half, but my husband has also. My therapist said that if it’s something I truly enjoy, if it brings me happiness, then it is not a waste of time and money. I agree with her, but I can’t help but feel the opposite. The shame comes in when I see that I/we have spent a lot of money and I’m simply not improving very much, despite daily (often multiple times daily) practice. It feels really shitty.
With all of those things combined – the emotions, feelings, thoughts, voices – it makes it hard for me to want to continue at this point. I am probably simply in a funk, and maybe I just need to take a bit of time off from flow arts. I worry that a couple of days or a few days away from it will turn into months, like it has in the past. Flow arts makes me genuinely happy and feel good about myself. Knowing I really kinda suck at it makes me feel bad about myself. My husband said that maybe it will just click for me one day if I keep at it. I do agree that it could all of a sudden click, but then again I really doubt it will. The only way to find out is to keep trying and practicing. I am thinking of ways to help myself feel better about this and improve my skills. We’ll see.
I signed up for a ballet class, a six week class. It starts in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always loved ballet, and I often wish that I would have continued to dance as a child. I love ballet because it is very controlled, yet has the potential for beautiful freestyle. Maybe at thirty years old I can become a ballet dancer. There’s nothing wrong with starting late! The major difference between flow arts and ballet (aside from basically all the movements and the use of props) is that ballet is controlled and flow arts is, well, flowy and pure improvisation. Coming up with my own dance moves has always been a serious challenge for me. I’m looking forward to ballet again. Maybe it will even help a bit with flow arts…who knows?
Through all of this, I know that one of the root causes of all of these feelings is that I want to find that one thing (or two things) that I am really passionate about and am great at. I have bounced around from hobby to hobby all my life and I feel ready to settle on some things. I have been amazing at knitting and crocheting all my life, and I love doing those things. The big problem is that I really dislike sitting for long periods of time these days and I would much rather be doing something active with my body. That’s where flow arts came in. Without movement I feel lost. Creative movement helps me move tough emotions through my body in a healthy way. If I feel stuck with creative movement, I feel lost and stuck in life. So, we will see. Maybe ballet will be just the thing I need.
Hope you all have a good one.