Here is a list of things to/not to worry about as described by F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter to his daughter, Scottie, when she was 11. I was amazed by how much of this I found useful and applicable to my own life, in and out of the studio. (I found this list via English Muse)
Things to worry about: (I’ve added my notes in italics)
Worry about courage– It takes so much of this to risk failing, looking stupid, falling short of a dream, but I often think it takes more courage than it does talent to make for success
Worry about cleanliness– no one likes a stinky dancer. Deodorant is key!
Worry about efficiency– Work hard and work smart! Don’t train the wrong muscles, waste too much time, or over-strain (injuries are huge obstacles!)
Worry about horsemanship– this actually does apply to me, but I’ll explain why soon.
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion– most people are idiots anyways! Just Kidding. I like the rule ‘consider the source’- not an easy lesson to learn, but in deciding when to be hurt, offended, complimented, insulted- it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
Don’t worry about dolls– I’m going to change this to ‘stuff’
Don’t worry about the past– it can’t be changed and if you messed things up, it will make for a hilarious memoir
Don’t worry about the future– this one is hard for me
Don’t worry about growing up– worry more about looking old! Thanks Dorian gray
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you– some will and some won’t. Don’t compare. In dance, corps de ballet is usually organized by height anyways- lucky midgets in the front!
Don’t worry about triumph- the insult dog? Who else loves Conan?
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault– have a best friend on speed dial
Don’t worry about mosquitoes– right. cause itchy red bumps are easy to ignore
Don’t worry about flies– you’ll catch more with sweetness. Why you’d want flies is beyond me.
Don’t worry about insects in general- let’s all put lice on Fitzgerald’s grave then. Who’s worried now?
Don’t worry about parents- because parents don’t count as people….right
Don’t worry about boys– at least not in the plural sense. No one likes a date juggler
Don’t worry about disappointments– these too shall pass
Don’t worry about pleasures– these too shall pass
Don’t worry about satisfactions– these too shall pass
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,
I disagree with his idea of comparison to your contemporaries. Many of my friends are far far FAAAARRR smarter, more ingenious, kinder, more patient, more beautiful, more witty, or stronger dancers. I like keeping company with people who are better than I am, or at least the ones who pull out the best in me- and the real friends and teachers don’t make you feel bad when you’re clearly inferior.
In all honesty, I was inspired to post these guidelines for myself as well as for fellow dance friends who are thinking about resigning or not resigning contracts, and younger friends who are looking at companies or colleges. Looking back on my life and my own choices of schools and companies- I feel as though I did a lot of things wrong,
The other day, I was fortunate to interview Victoria Jaiani, a principle with the Joffrey Ballet. Her career path went something like this: singled out for potential as a child in her hometown the Republic of Georgia, sent to New York to study at the Joffrey school at 14, hired by the Joffrey at 17 debuting in the role of Juliette.Can you even imagine being that lucky!? Not that it isn’t deserved, but what smooth sailing! Sheesh! (Click here for the Pointe Magazine inside look at the secrets within her dance bag)
I feel amazingly blessed that when I first faced the audition circuit out of college, I landed a spot with Louisville Ballet. Wanna know what my first role was? A maid in ‘the Great Gatsby’ (ooh another Fitzgerald connection).
I came onstage twice, once carrying a suitcase the other pretending to push a couch offstage. it was really heavy so the other maid and I couldn’t actually push it and it had to be put on wheels and was really pulled off by burly stage hands in the wings. That’s 20 years of serious training put to good use.
Sometimes I feel like my life is one of those ‘What’s behind curtain number one!?’ game shows, and I keep peeking behind one, not liking it, and then trying the next one. Except,I keep searching for prospects of dancing myself, and just hoping for a different and right company for me behind that same curtain. (The definition of crazy= doing the same thing and hoping for a different result)
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.- The Great Gatsby
Not everyone is as lucky as Victoria to have found their place so quickly. I guess the only thing I would say is that I really don’t and can’t regret the places I went or who I danced for. I thinking knowing who and what you really want to be is probably a harder battle than just finding it, so I think I have the tricky part taken care of. Now it just takes the courage to keep looking. Thanks Daddy Fitzgerald for the direction, and to you, my friends and readers, who play a bigger role in keeping me inspired than I’d like to admit. ( Probably a better part than a furniture-toting maid anyways!)
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…
And We Will. – The (sometimes not so Great) Jess