How often do you see someone do something—on social media, or in the studio—and desire to do the same thing? Was it a super cool trick? Maybe the grace or strength demonstrated? I feel this desire a million times a day. It’s also not always limited to dance-related things I see; could be a fashionable outfit that I myself wish I had or maybe want to visit a destination someone has visited. In these times of desire, I often find myself on the very thin line of balancing feelings of envy and feelings of inspiration. 

Now that we are all social distancing, I find that my desires to do new things and buy new things and see new things are much stronger, and along with that, so are my feelings of both envy and inspiration. However, I feel like that line between the two emotions is easily fogged. Since I gained such clarity externalizing my feelings via blog to my Aerial Dance friends and family recently, I would like to take a moment to do the same regarding this topic. 

So, as I struggle to be positive at home, I have decided to look deeper into these two emotions which seem to sway me either towards or away from positivity—specifically regarding dance. What’s the difference between the two emotions? According to the internet, inspiration is the receipt of feeling mental motivation to do something and envy is the desire for someone else’s possessions or qualities. 

For example, let’s talk pole. I love to watch pole competition videos on YouTube. I love seeing amazing and beautiful feats of strength and gaining inspiration. How do I know if I am going to watch a routine and feel inspired or watch a routine and feel envious? I think a lot of it has to do with my own self-esteem and feeling of self-worth in the moment.  Struggling with self-esteem has been a battle I’ve fought for a long time and being in isolation adds an extra challenge for me. So, if I watch a pole dancer and allow my mind to compare myself to said pole dancer, I likely am going to feel low self-worth which then leads to me feeling envious of the dancer I’m watching. However, how often do I analyze my own feelings before deciding if it’s a good idea to watch videos online? Not often.

In my past, I used to spend hours and hours on these platforms consuming pole video after pole video. More often times than not, rather than feel the inspiration I was searching for, I’d find myself feeling inadequate and downright jealous of others. So much so, that I have decided that for my own mental health, I no longer allow myself to have the apps on my phone. Now, I am not a professional, nor an expert, but I do think that as we are spending more time screen to screen connecting with others and finding inspiration outside the walls of our homes, we might find worth examining the emotions that accompany this time and realize that our own feelings of self-worth affect our abilities to draw inspiration from others in this time.

My fear and assumption is that I’m not the only member of our beloved studio who might be struggling balancing this fine line of emotions—especially during this unprecedented time. Social media can be a wonderful tool connecting us together when we can’t physically be near each other. However, I also think it can be a very confusing place. Not only may you find yourself envious of others’ skills, bodies, home workout spaces, etc., but you may find yourself feeling bad for feeling envious, adding insult to injury.  I’m sure none of us desire to feel envious of others! But how do we shift to the other side of the line—the side of inspiration?

 My two cents to you if you might be struggling: 

  1. Take note of your mood, mindset, and overall mental outlook before heading online (or to the studio when we get to go back!). Then, take note afterwards as well. 
  2. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Bottled-up feelings are rarely beneficial and identifying them might help understand why and prevent future unwanted feelings.
  3. Give yourself time. The more we can practice numbers 1 and 2, the more easily we will be able to identify, control, and avoid situations that lower our self-esteem and the more easily we will be able to discover the motivation and inspiration we desire.

I want to end this by reiterating that I do find much inspiration from others when I do head online; mothers, healthcare workers, innovators, dancers, the list goes on. I have especially been inspired by watching pole videos from 10+ years ago—it’s amazing to see the evolution of our sport/art/passion and incredibly inspiring to think about how far the aerial arts will continue to grow.  What inspires you as an aerial dancer?