I used to train at Boston Ballet in the intensive division six times a week. Basically, this means that I took my ballet training seriously, and many people in that program were hoping to dance professionally. I wasn’t the best in my class, but I also didn’t consider myself the worst – I thought I was about average. I had been attending Boston Ballet since I was eight years old, and I clearly developed a strong connection with the school.
One day in May when I was fifteen, I received a phone call from Boston Ballet. The director of the school and a children’s master wanted to meet with me and my parents. I thought that was bizarre. My parents hadn’t really been involved in my dance training for quite a few years now. Of course they supported me, drove me, attended my performances, and knew what was going on in my dance life, but I had stopped discussing my technique and dance aspirations with them. Therefore, I did think it was weird that these people wanted to talk with my parents too.
Nonetheless, I showed up at the small office with both of my parents. The children’s master was there, but the director didn’t have the decency to attend – she was on speaker phone. They did the casual banter of “Hi, how are you,” and then, in two sentences, told me they wanted me to leave the intensive division. They felt that it wasn’t “the right fit for me.” Translation: I wasn’t good enough.
What were they talking about? I had been a devoted Boston Ballet intensive student for so many years now and they just wanted me to leave the program? I was so angry. Did they even consider meeting with me earlier in the year to maybe discuss my progress and help me succeed instead of fail? I hadn’t gotten any negative feedback from teachers throughout the year and now they think they can just say “nice knowing ya, byeee!” Couldn’t the director spend five minutes of her life to actually talk to me instead of being called in on the speaker phone? Did I really bother them so much that they couldn’t just give me a chance to dance?!
I was livid and upset. Looking back, I wish I had the nerve to say something and stick up for myself instead of muttering “oh” and leaving to cry in peace. Alas, I cannot change the past.
Being told you’re not good enough is the worst. In fact, it sucks. Sometimes you might feel like the accusations come out of nowhere and have no truth to them. You know you are good enough! Why can’t others see that? On the other hand, sometimes you might feel like maybe those accusations have some validity… but it hurts when you’re called out on not being good enough anyways. You try very hard to suppress the comments and deny that there might be a glimmer of truth because you don’t want it to be the truth!
What do you do?
It might be easy to think, “Well, haters are going to hate” and I am good enough! That’s too easy of a way out, however. That’s kind of like receiving a B on a paper you thought rocked, ignoring all of the professor’s comments, and thinking, “Nah nah nah my paper is awesome, my professor is just too stupid to see it!” A bit immature, isn’t it?
While it does happen that professors aren’t perfect and sometimes completely wrong, there is a higher chance that maybe the professor is on to something and maybe you should review his comments. Then, think about those comments when you write your next paper so you can improve as a writer, and… voila! You did much better the second time around and did get an A.
Shouldn’t we apply such logical thinking when people tell us we’re not good enough in other aspects of life? It’s true – sometimes we aren’t good enough. It doesn’t make sense to pretend that we are flawless and can be amazing at anything – that’s impossible for anyone! Therefore, try to determine if the accusations could be legitimate. Then, work hard to improve. That way, in a few days, weeks, or months, depending on the situation, you can tell your accuser that you are good enough! As Rihanna would say, “Shine bright like a diamond!”
Additionally, try to surround yourself in an atmosphere of people who already see your worth. If someone thinks you’re not good enough, why bother with them? There are plenty of others who do think you’re good enough and want to work with you. These people won’t say you’re perfect, because, face it, you’re not, but they will help you to improve and achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. Doesn’t that seem like a healthy environment to be in?
As for my story, I of course ended up leaving Boston Ballet. I was heartbroken and thinking about it still makes me sad today. I knew I’d never be a great ballerina, but all I wanted to do was keep training at this school. Nonetheless, being told by Boston Ballet that I wasn’t good enough didn’t set me back. Instead, I danced at my high school. I was surrounded by teachers who on one hand, helped me improve and continued to push me, but on the other hand, always reminded me that I could dance and I was good enough. Now, I dance at BC with a great group of students who want to enjoy dancing for what it is and help make everyone in the group feel welcome.
Positive reinforcement and a genuine interest in me from my high school and BC have made me a much better dancer than I was before. While Boston Ballet upset me, I used their criticism to surpass them. I might never be a prima ballerina, but I am a confident dancer, and I love dancing! Isn’t that all that matters?
So next time someone tells you you’re not good enough, find people who will help you to become good enough. And then, continue doing what you love with confidence and with an open mind that welcomes help and suggestions. That way, you’ll be able to tell your accuser that not only are you good enough, but you’re also so much more.
What matters most is how you see yourself