Cake or death: on ballet, bowling, and failure.

5 Sep

Tomorrow is the first official day of the dance studio season.

I am a nerd, but there are few things I love more than the start of a new dance season. The combinations! The choreography! The shiny new pointe shoes! The syllabi! Yes I write syllabi for my dance classes! The hours spent obsessively editing the same two measures of music! The. . .subsequent. . .hours. . .spent talking myself down from the brink of suicide. But I digress.

Last year I choreographed a contemporary piece based on A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. And, I’m not going to lie.




So awesome in fact, that I’m a little nervous about this year. My choreography tends to come from whatever I’m dealing with in my life at that point in time. And last year I had that whole OMG-I’M-CHANGING-FAITHS-AND-MY-ENTIRE-LIFE/ripping bandaids – nay, sawing casts off – old wounds thing going for me.

This year, if I were to sum up my life in dance it would be something like the following:

Dancer is asleep on stage. Stage is black.

Alarm clock goes off on stage. 

Dancer pushes snooze.


Dancer realizes she’s almost late to work and throws first available articles of clothing on then throws herself off stage.

Dancer returns to stage and goes to sleep.

I’m realizing that competing with myself is pointless – which is really hard for me to get through my head, because I’m competitive to a fault. Sometimes I taste a tiny bit of success and after the initial surge of confidence in a job well-done, I become terrified – what if what I dance next isn’t good enough? What if my choreography sucks? What if my new class of students hates me and thinks I’m a horrible teacher? What if I can’t write a better post/article/short-story/song/grocery list than I did yesterday? What if? What if? What if?

I’m the chick who won’t play a game she thinks she can’t win. Like, I went on a date a month or so ago and bowled for the first time in my life – EVER – and only after my date bought me a few drinks. Yes. My date had to get me buzzed to go bowling. My family didn’t have a weird anti-bowling rule in my fundamentalist formative years. I simply refused to fail. And I didn’t just fail at bowling that night. Whatever is ten degrees below failing, that’s what I did. I’d like to say that I had some epiphany at that point that demonstrated to me that winning isn’t everything/brought me to new levels of humility, but I mainly just pouted.

[On the bright side, it was an exercise in chastity. Because any chance of any action that might have been present at the beginning of the date TOTALLY DISAPPEARED as I seethed in poor sportsmanship and general humiliation after].

But if I let myself get caught up in the attitude of,  “Every word I write must needs be greater than the last! Every dance more awe-inspiring! Ever prayer more holy!” I will drive myself into the ground and not do a thing.

And doing nothing is worse than doing something and failing.

So this week, ladies and gentlemen, will be a trial run of Kassie Channeling Her Perfectionism Into More Healthy Avenues. You know, like finishing laundry. Or cleaning out my car. Yeah. There’s a start. More productivity. Less internal angst over creative genius/lack thereof.

. . .and, coincidentally, I’m now playing around with the alarm clock idea. Hmmm. . .


8 Responses to “Cake or death: on ballet, bowling, and failure.”

  1. jen September 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    perfectionism is idolatry. (i say this as someone who struggles with it.)

  2. Kathleen September 6, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    My husband says if I can’t do something perfectly (or at least excellently) on the first try, I get mad and give up. He might have something there. 🙂 Us type-A girls have to stick together… 😉

  3. Anne September 6, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Thank you for an excellent post that is a big boost to my current stage of life. I know nothing about ballet-but you drew me right into your life easily. Bowling-don’t feel bad, I used to be pretty good at it but the last time I went with my family at a big church event, I feel right on my butt as the ball rolled into the gutter. Complete humiliation! I will never bowl again. But writing? Even though I desperately want to quit because it’s so hard to put myself out there again and again for the whole world to see, I will probably keep on after a few hits on the snooze button. We all have to choose our battles in the spiritual life, don’t we? Your words here encourage me.

  4. Sarah L September 6, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Your bowling story made me laugh because that’s exactly what happened the first (and only) time I tried it with The Beau. When he’s not good at any kind of physical competition he just gets grumpy. I have a history of doing the same when my Mom offers her inevitable unsolicited bowling advice. Guess we both need to work on humility!

    Sarah @BeatenCopperLamp

  5. Laura September 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    A couple months ago I declined the suggestion of going bowling with a friend for the exact same reason, I’ve never bowled and I knew I would’ve suck. We decided to go to a pub instead and even after the alcohol consumption I couldn’t be persuaded to go to a karaoke because… you guessed it, I would’ve suck 😛

    • Laura September 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm #


  6. Julie @ The Corner With A View September 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Ah yes, laundry. I’m on the ship too. Let’s channel together!!

  7. Kristen September 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    If you want to succeed at bowling, you should go with me! I’m terrible, but luckily, my husband doesn’t make fun of me too much…Hope your school financial issues are going well!

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