By Eytan Smith
The Tyranny of Expectation
Recently, a few people mentioned they feel like they’re shrinking themselves to accommodate the presence and needs of others. It’s a crippling feeling; we weaken our sense of self to avoid conflict or some sort of overwhelming environment.
It’s quite like trying to ballroom dance with a partner who wants to tango. Your partner seems too large and too assertive for you to match, so you give in and try to keep up with their routine. It’s choreography you just don’t understand and doesn’t fit you, which makes you feel like an embarrassing excuse for a supporting act.
I know this happens with more than just creative partners. I’ve seen it happen in romantic relationships and I have experienced it in my close friendships and everyday group dynamics.
When talking with those who shared these feelings with me, I mistakenly said that sometimes you just have to be the bigger person and adjust to others’ needs. Sometimes it’s just not our turn to be in the limelight and we are stronger for being adaptable for others. But I was so wrong, and I apologize profusely to everyone I said this to.
Earlier on in the week, a close friend and wise mentor instructed me to dance my own dance (hence the extended dancing metaphor). If I compromise my dancing for someone else’s sake, it’s not a reflection on others, it’s a reflection on me. I’m not even giving myself the chance to dance my best, so why should I expect to win the competition?
If we fail to someone else’s routine, we can blame it on them. If we fail to produce winning work we can say it wasn’t our fault; they argued harder so I let go.
If we fail because we tried our hardest, who is there to blame? Why is there a need to blame?
I think the reason why we give up our positions and choose blame, is not because we are afraid of our limitations as creatives, as partners, or as dancers, but because we are afraid of our own gargantuan potential.
I don’t think I thought of these questions until yesterday, which is why in our theatre group for Lynette, I refused to take the lead role. I was afraid of failure, humiliation, and being laughed at for sticking out. I was afraid my team and the audience would blame me for our potentially poor performance.
A few weeks ago I said in a scab ‘now is the time to be kind’. I still stand by those words, but now is also the time to dance to the beat of our own drums, to ideas we love and to work we’re proud to show. Now is the time to balter.
By knowing what I want from myself and being the best version I can be, I hope my inner light will burn bright, and by doing so I dream of inspiring the same in others. Because once I know how to dance my best and my partner knows how to dance their best, the choreography will be outstanding and the dance floor will be ours for the taking.
So next time I’ll be first on the dancefloor: I’m not afraid.