An apology is a powerful thing. It has the ability to kick off the healing cycle when someone has been hurt emotionally. But apologies can also make us feel worse rather than better and we don’t want to go down this path.
2020 has been an interesting year for everyone so far. I was looking forward to doing our flash mob as a part of the global Shimmy Mob event this last weekend. With the COVID-19 restrictions, the event ended up being an online social media take over instead. The process to get ready for it was the same. Learn the choreography from the online videos, practise practise practise and then video and release. The Melbourne team also put their heads together to produce a little “dancing together, apart” video as well. It was so amazing watching everyone come together to do this. But something that caught me off guard, was the string of apologies I received as all these amazing dancers who had done all this work were sending me their videos.
Now, this blog post isn’t about calling anybody out. Because everyone did an amazing job in learning and releasing their videos! Especially given that the “minimum” was to share my video that I was producing for the event. What I want to look at here is why we feel the need to apologise for our work, because what we do as dancers and humans is amazing and we should be proud of what we achieve, without needing to measure ourselves against an unrealistic (or even imaginary) yardstick.
Why were there apologies?
If you’ve not met the “Shimmy Mob” event before, it’s a global flash mob that occurs on World Belly Dance Day in May. Dancers from around the world learn the same choreography and perform it in their home cities as a way of making a splash and raising awareness (and funds) for domestic violence services in their area.
We all were sad we couldn’t dance together, so the idea of sharing our individual videos to make up one team video was a nice compromise. As the team started to let me know they’d uploaded their videos, I received a disturbing number of apologies to me for the dancer’s performance in the video.
They didn’t feel like their video was “good enough”, or that they didn’t “do a great job”, “it wasn’t perfect”, “excuse my mistakes”.
While I was excited to see everyone’s videos (which were all completely amazing by the way), I was disappointed that no one felt any joy in what they’d created and all they could focus on was what was wrong with what they’d done (and I couldn’t pick the mistakes they were talking about in the videos).
It dawned on me that in the process of learning the choreography and doing the rehearsals, the team had forgotten some important things.
Why we were doing this and who our audience was.
We had unrealistic high standards
From a young age, general society norms have dictated that we shouldn’t present anything publically that wasn’t seamless and so-called “perfect”. Some of this has come from not wanting to look foolish or wrong in front of our peers.
So it makes sense, if you’re learning someone else’s choreography and you’re part of a local team, who are dancing “alongside” other dancers in your country and then also around the world, you’d want your piece to be “perfect” so it didn’t look different right?
Well, yes, but also no. The main audience for this wasn’t dancers around the world. It was for dancers in your local area. Most of this audience will not see any videos except for the local team. In fact, excepting the dancers who learnt the video, no one even knows if you’re doing it wrong!
Shedding the guilt
It is a really difficult thing to do – putting aside your feelings of inadequacy. Letting go of the guilt that you’re letting someone down if you’re not putting your best foot forward.
I love that we want to do amazing things, and understand the feeling of guilt that we should have done more. But I’d like to ask you one important question:
What’s the benefit of talking yourself down with an apology?
It didn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t change what is on the video.
What it did do, was stop you feeling amazing about the achievement of finishing. Which you should be excited about. Especially seeing as for us, Shimmy Mob was about raising awareness and funds for domestic violence support services.
Perfection is the enemy of done
Remember what makes something good is getting it out. What makes it interesting is the parts of you that is in it. What makes it great is its flaws and how it works around them.
You have worth.
You do amazing things.
You matter to me.
You have nothing to be sorry about
If you want to check out the amazing video the Melbourne Shimmy Mob team produced, you can view it here.
APB Dance loves weekly dance classes, which we’ve worked out can happen anywhere, any time! Check out where and when our classes are running and learn how to dance, with no apologies.