Triggers.

“Stop whining.”

If you want to know the fastest way to break my spirit, get me to shut up, and subsequently not speak but rather hide inside myself for days all it takes is those two little words.

We got to work on our recital piece in the class today, even though we typically only run it on Thursday’s. Ms. Lori was really cleaning us up and giving us detailed corrections. There was a point when she told me to straighten my back leg. It’s really difficult to straighten my back leg on that part: it’s really fast for us, being the last group and the first for the next part, which makes my bad knee hurt if I’m not too careful and also limits how much I can plie which causes me trouble in the straightening of the other knee because it throws off my balance which apparently, in turn, causes my back leg to bend. I tried to tell this to Ms. Lori, and her response was, “Stop whining” cutting me off before I could finish. Once I got my breath back, I tried again to explain what it is with my knee, but I was already shaken. It literally only takes the moment for the words to leave the persons mouth and hit my ears, and I am wounded. I hate this fact about me, but there it is.
So I shut my mouth, did the best I could without killing my knee or something else in how quick it is, and just went with it. The next time we ran it, Ms. Munro was watching. While Ms. Lori was getting the music right, I tried the move a few times on my own to try and get the fluidity to straighten my back leg at the speed required. I should be able to do this, right? Stop whining, Emilee. Just shut up and do it. You’re pathetic. The oldest one here, and making excuses. You’ll never go anywhere with that attitude. You’re hopless. Stop whining.
Ileana is a gem and watched me, letting me know if my leg was straight or not just because she is made of pure sugar, which helped me be a little more confident. I tried it one more time and felt really great about the pique turn that follows the move my knee wasn’t straight in, noticing I was better onto my box and far more stable than usual. Ileana applauded. I got this.

We ran it for Ms. Munro, and it got to that part. My knee didn’t hurt too badly, and I did my absolute best to straighten my knee. But when it came to the pique turn, I hit the girl next to me as we turned.
Completely forgetting that this was the reason why my pique turns were rough in this part, (she would get on to us about being together. It was either hit summer or hit the barre on the wall, both of which I have done numerous times) I said, “I hit Summer!” and Ms. Lori snapped back, “No whining!”

It took everything in me to hold it together. I didn’t have time to fall apart. I couldn’t afford it. Ms. Munro is watching and I want so desperately to be good enough and show improvement and that I will work hard. Being told that I’m whining is the opposite of that. No one wants that on their team. No one wants to work with that. I had to literally shut out all of the thoughts in my head, because all they would do is cause me to break down, and I’ve managed to never do that at this studio and I’d like to keep that record.
Numb your mind, keep dancing.

At the end of class, I brought it up to Ms. Lori casually. I told her why I had spoken and what I had realized in why that part was rough. My pique turns were lacking because when I do them confidently I hit Summer or run into the barre, and if I run into the barre I can’t get to the next part and it’s really awkward. Not to mention painful. She said she didn’t meant to snap at me, she’s just on high stress level with theatre week for Oz and recital coming up, not to mention she’s also trying to fight off being sick. I told her I understood and that I know her intention is to just make us our best, not to be hurtful.

Now, it has come up that Ms. Lori teaches privates. I didn’t know this, and felt kind of left out that I hadn’t been informed, but that’s dumb because I could always ask and no one has to tell me. Most of it was still just the sting of the “whining” comment, so I tried to just let it roll off my shoulders. But I want to do privates with Ms. Lori. I would have done these a long time ago had I known they were an option (and if I can afford it.) One of the girls had one after class and I couldn’t help but be envious of the opportunity she had to improve. That she has parents that are able to pay for her classes and also support her in what she aspires to do. I didn’t have that with ballet like this. I just want to dance better.
(especially with Swan Lake being next year’s spring show. I want to be able to hold up and I know right now I’m not there.)

I got in my car and left the studio, turned on Taylor Swift to try and shake the sting, but instead proceeded to cry. Like a kid who was just yelled at by someone they look up to when they weren’t expecting it oh wait, that’s kinda what it is or a dog that’s been kicked.
Could I really take a private lesson with Ms. Lori? Half of my struggle with pointe is the fear that I’ll hurt myself. Could I handle her if this is her mindset towards me?
But I want to improve, right?
Right.
And I can handle Andie helping me. What makes this any different?
Maybe the insane vulnerability and realizing no one here really knows me or knows why I function the way I do.
But do they need to? Or is it just another excuse, a crutch that just holds me back from my best potential?
Am I nothing more than a whiner?

What am I afraid of?
Rolling my ankle like I did last September when I just went for it.
Or when my left foot isn’t stable no matter how hard I seem to try or how confident I try to be about it.
Falling like I did trying to roll up in a develope
Not being able to roll up at all and falling on my face or rolling my ankle like, ya know, has happened.
Doing something that makes my knee feel like knives are trying to poke out from the inside. (like, ya know, when I did that plie that caused my back knee to bend.)
Doing something to hurt my back. Again.
Not to mention how accident prone I am. Something bad happens so much that I’m beginning to believe I’m just making some of them up because there’s no way this many low-key tragedies can happen to one person. I must just be dramatic, right? Until someone connects it all and is shocked. Guess I’m not dramatic…

But if I’m not aware of where I falter, I’ll never get better.

I try to keep myself open to correction. I value constructive criticism.
But for me there’s a certain way to go about it, or moreso one way not to.

When I was a kid, my family hounded me for whining.
It made me so upset, because I didn’t think I was whining. I thought I was just expressing how I felt about something and trying to get them to understand where I was coming from, potentially leading to a solution.
Apparently I failed at that, because they would shut me down by telling me to stop whining or doing the precious little “I’m a whiner” jingle they made up and taunted me with.
It crushed me.
It’s a deep gash that I try and ignore and can typically avoid in life, but when it comes up, it leaves me crying like a 6-year-old like, oh, ya know, 82% of the time I’ve been typing this.

It makes me feel like such a failure. Like my efforts aren’t enough. Like I just have to never let myself try and understand why I’m doing one thing and how to be able to do another, but instead to just do as I’m told and hope it works out okay.
Do you know how daunting that is? How hopeless that makes me feel?
It takes out the very fire that burns in me, begging me to dance.
It silences my passion.

Now, I don’t blame Ms. Lori. How was she to know that two simple words would trigger such intense reactions in me? How is she to know that this would cause a domino effect of fear in me, throwing up a wall toward the things I’m most terrified to attempt but know I have to break through in able to go anywhere. It makes me terrified to take the risk I know my dancing depends on. Something that should be so simple. I feel like it takes the progress I’ve made and shoves it backwards 30 feet, leaving me reeling and having to make up the lost ground all over again, by myself, while trying to convince myself that these rather convincing voices in my head aren’t right in what they’re telling me, even though they’ve been put there my whole life by people who are supposed to build me up.

Can you blame me for being hurt by it, though? When my entire life I’ve been shot down with these words? Being told that my concerns weren’t valid, even when I knew I was right, because I expressed them in a way appropriate for someone the age I was?

I can sort of see how it came across as whining to Ms. Lori tonight; maybe more of an excuse. But my intentions of vocalizing my fears were to express what I thought was causing it and opening myself up to ways to correct it.
I made myself vulnerable, and was shot.

(unintentionally. I in no way blame Ms. Lori.)

So I’m going to let myself cry, try not to overthink any of this or let myself sink into the black hole of my past, and move past this. And then I’ll message Ms. Lori about private classes.

Like Taylor Swift told me on my way home, you gotta shake it off.

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