“I hate this. I hate Crossfit”. The words came out of my mouth as the barbell dropped to the floor, the plates echoing the sound of my frustration around the gym. My coach looked at me, smiled, and then laughed. “Good!” he said. I glared at him. “You don’t know how much you love something until you can actually say that you hate it.”
Those were not words I wanted to hear. Secretly, I didn’t want him to agree with me. I was expecting him to say that I shouldn’t hate it, that it was just a feeling, that really deep down inside I loved every minute of what I was doing…but he didn’t. He said he was glad I hated it. GLAD?! Was this some sort of test? Reverse psychology? A way to convince me to pick up the bar and finish the set? Or maybe, were these words of affirmation from someone who had been doing this much longer than I had and understood the mental mechanics much better than I did? Was it actually okay to “hate” something I professed to love so much?
This got me thinking: what does it mean to “love” something? What does it mean to love dance? I think that true appreciation and dedication to something, like dance, does not depend on a smooth and injury-free journey to the podium. Can we really love something if we don’t have to fight for it? Can we really appreciate something if we have never had to go without it? Can we actually say we “love dancing” when we have never experienced the frustration and disappointment that comes with learning a new step or falling short of our expectations at a competition?
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Wise words from Newton, not unlike the words spoken by my coach this past year. If we set out to accomplish a goal, or to pursue something with our whole heart and expect the journey to be smooth and clear, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment. If we believe that the best parts of the journey are the moments on the podium, we are doing it for the wrong reasons. Sashes and podiums are won through hours of love, yes, but also equal hours of frustration. Hours of frustration in your basement working on a step; competitions where the judges didn’t even give you a mark; weeks off of dancing because of injuries and physiotherapy. This is true frustration, but it teaches us true love for what we do. Because we had to fight for it; because it didn’t come easily; because the true reward is what we have learned about ourselves along the way.
These experiences are what make champions, on the stage and more importantly, in the studio.