Dusting off distractions

In chapter 2, “Learn to Work Hard,” I take the reader inside my early days training far from home. To be sure, it was hard being away, but what I may not have been able to articulate at the time was the way it allowed me to train without distraction. When I went to live with a host family in 8th grade in order to train at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, I left behind the expectations (and entanglements) of my hometown family and friends. While it was tough to say good-bye, I knew it was only temporary, and vital to a shot at my dream. And I found that, during that time, I could do something that sounds kind of weird: work really hard without feeling guilty. Now, who in her right mind feels guilty about working hard? Well, consider the emotional burden of wanting to train extra hours while the rest of your family is gathered around the dinner table. Or while your friends are working on a group project for school. Still, I knew this chance might not come again. Now, not everyone can do this; authors will sometimes go on a weeklong retreat to really focus on an intense writing project. Or a pastor will take a summer sabbatical to re-align his ministry with his message and write some awesome sermons.  But the vast majority of people must undertake their pursuits while the “real world” continues to happen around them. Cars break down, parents and kids have arguments, the flu creeps in. In the dance world, distractions can include casting ups and downs, bad rehearsals or shows, and injuries. In either case, interferences can agitate and add up, making your mind wander from your aim. Don't let distractions take your head out of the game. Take care of what needs to be addressed, avoid the temptation to wish it away or feel sorry for yourself, and then get back on your path. You’ll be surprised how quickly the noise goes away. I had friends that stopped hanging out with me when I started to succeed. I had school kids make fun of me for wearing a back brace for scoliosis. And I sometimes let those disruptions rob precious energy. But my dad would remind me, “Time passes no matter what you do, so you may as well focus on an end goal.” This would steer me clear of the distractive detours.