Back in March, I performed in a flying trapeze show at the school where I teach. We have performances several times a year; most focus on student acts, then the staff fly troupe (me + amazing people) performs as the final act of the show.
I’ve performed many times over the years, and preparing for a show is certainly filled with hard work, self-doubt, a few breakdowns, and with any luck a breakthrough or two. Sometimes a show is an opportunity to show off new tricks (there’s nothing like throwing a trick in a show for the first time!); other times you polish off the old, consistent tricks to create a diversity of acts and styles among all the flyers (it is a troupe, and a troupe act — not a solo performance — after all).
While I had big hopes for big tricks in this show, it just didn’t happen for me this time. The frustration part of the show prep journey dominated my training for months. There’s nothing worse for an athlete than a plateau, and when a show performance looms, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling further behind with every practice as opposed to moving forward or improving. When I got in my head about everything, I knew I was toast.
Two weeks before the show, I had to scrap my show performance plans and start over. I was very disappointed and to be honest, felt like a failure (and more than a month later, I can’t really say that feeling has gone away). But as they say, the show must go on.
For this show, I ended up throwing tricks I performed a number of times in the past. While I was frustrated about how things ended up, as the act started I was reminded how supportive and wonderful the audience is. While I may have felt like a failure and that everything I threw was just another representation of me not achieving my goals, the crowd, unaware of my challenges, showed me nothing but love and support … and it was awesome.
Sometimes as I beat myself up over not having the show-ready big tricks that I’m working so hard to improve, I forget that in the spirit of a show, everything is amazing — every trick, every act is a demonstration of an incredible amount of hard work and preparation. Shows are supposed to be fun after all – for the audience more than anything. I like to think that it was.
So how did it go? Well, I didn’t post these videos to my personal Facebook or Instagram accounts due to the fact my followers have seen me do things like this a bazillion times … and to be honest, it wasn’t my most polished flying (squeeze something, woman!). But I gotta say, there is something special about stepping up on that rise when Beyoncé’s “Who Runs the World (Girls)” is blasting.
More than a month after the show, I still don’t quite feel like I’ve found my flying mojo. Once it’s gone, it’s really hard to get it back (just ask Austin Powers). However, I’m hoping that a lot of my downward spiral was a result of the winter (and life) blues, feelings and negative situations that are now evaporating a bit with the sunshine. I’m working hard, staying focused, and picked a few new and different things to work on to hopefully shake me out of my rut.
As with any athletic endeavor, progress is never linear — we take a few steps forward, then a few steps back. The important thing is to keep moving forward, and I am trying my hardest to do so.
Don’t be discouraged, Laura! Performing in a show once or twice a year is super stressful. The worst part is that when things don’t go as planned, you have to wait a whole year (or some long period of time) to redeem yourself. In fact, I perform almost every day and find that way less stressful than when I used to do shows at my trapeze club! As for your mojo…let go of your expectations and try to get back to that place where you just experience the joy of flying. If you need to feel progress to feel good about yourself, work on the little things. How can you swing a little higher? Return a little tighter? Point your toes a little harder? Whatever… Small things with small accomplishments lead to confidence and, ultimately, big things and big accomplishments. Have fun!
Thanks Kyla! I’m definitely trying to find the joy again and focus less on things that make me feel like a failure (ugh, that sounded overly dramatic but you know what I mean!). It’s amazing what just thinking about straighter legs can do, haha. I’m close to the point where I feel ready to revisit the “big ones” that got away. I put them on a time out so they can think about what they’ve done 😉
So amazing, Laura!! You are far braver than most of us. Keep it up. Or don’t!….because what you’ve achieved thus far, is fantastic.