An introvert performs

theater-1477670_1920When I first signed up for dance lessons a year ago, I never thought I’d be performing. In fact, if you had told me that, I would have walked out. But as time shifts, so does our perspective.

My dance studio puts on a showcase twice a year. One in June and one in December. It’s an opportunity for private dance students to perform in front of an audience. But there are also several group dance routines to showcase different styles.

I originally signed up for samba because there wasn’t a showcase piece planned. But after a few weeks, our instructor suggested we perform too. Although hesitant at first, I began to consider it. I would be performing with 10 others, so I wouldn’t be alone and that helped to assuage the anxiety a bit. While the idea of performing was still scary, it was starting to look doable.

Eight weeks flew by and suddenly, it was showtime. That evening I arrived early at the venue. I chatted with a few people I knew to stave off the pre-show nerves. Then I headed to the ballroom and took my seat.

I was a bit jittery as we waited to be announced. But as soon as the music began, my nerves melted away. It was so much fun! I was able to really enjoy the moment. Then it was over and we were bowing and heading back to the foyer. High fives and smiles met us as we walked back through the door. I’ve never had that much fun performing before.

After changing into something a bit nicer, I headed back to my seat in the ballroom. I got to enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free. I excused myself soon after the show ended and drove home. It was a lovely evening but I was feeling pretty burned out. I savoured the silence in the car on the ride home. Fortunately, I had the place to myself the next day which allowed me to recharge and unwind.

How is your week going so far?

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A tale of two weekends

road trip

This summer has been extremely busy so far. Most of the time I love it, but there are times when it gets too overwhelming. Its been more than a week since my US trip and I’ve been able to process everything that happened. I also went on a road trip this past weekend. I thought I’d compare the two trips in order to figure out what made one more enjoyable than the other.

Trip to the US ★★☆☆☆

I travelled to Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. My post on June 22 details the anxiety I was feeling about the trip. Food-wise, things were okay. I had steak at the Italian restaurant and it was yummy. We also went to a Japanese restaurant, rather than the Indian one, so I was able to fill up on delicious sushi. But other than that, meals were few and far between and I was running on adrenaline most of the time. I was also staying with people who didn’t eat breakfast which made things more difficult. I think the only thing that saved me was the homemade protein balls I brought with me.

Activity-wise, it was not good. I completely understand that my friends wanted to squeeze in as much as possible into the weekend, but it was overkill. They kept us out late (we didn’t get back until 12 am most nights) and then were up early the next morning. I think I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. They chose group activities everyone else was excited about and I got guilt-tripped into going along. When I pulled out my book to read, they would start a conversation with me. How does that even make sense? It was quite frustrating. Fortunately, I used taking video and pictures as a way of isolating myself while still ‘participating’ in the action. By Monday I was completely done with people and just wanted to leave. The trip home went well, although I ended up sprinting through the Chicago airport in order to catch my flight, but that’s another story.

Road trip ★★★★★

This past weekend was another busy one. I took an 8 hour road trip to see friends. A few of us carpooled to save on fuel and spent the trip laughing and talking. Even though we were in a vehicle for several hours, I was able to pull out a book or my music without feeling guilty. I stayed with some good friends and had a lovely time catching up. There was a super fun BBQ too. We stayed up until nearly midnight talking, joking, and singing songs around the campfire (although I didn’t really know any of the songs they played).

The next day we grabbed breakfast, spent the morning chatting, then headed home. It was a quieter drive back, we were all pretty tired, but it went well. I was able to enjoy more quiet time with my music and a book. We also drove through a thunderstorm which was pretty neat. I was definitely exhausted once I finally made it back, but it was worth it. I slept extremely well on Sunday night.

I noticed a few things that made trip two far more enjoyable than trip one. Firstly, trip one was full of constant activity and no breaks. Everything was last minute and I couldn’t mentally prepare myself for anything. Trip two was busy, but had space for breaks, and no one got offended if I turned on my music. I also knew the itinerary and was able to mentally prepare for the busy activities. Secondly, I was constantly hungry during trip one and couldn’t eat much when we ate out. During trip two, I stayed with friends who asked me about my food sensitivities and took the time to prepare food specifically for me. They didn’t have to do that, but I was very grateful to them.

Based on my experiences I have a few tips I’m going to employ on future trips

1. Take breaks all the time.

I don’t care if it makes me look anti-social. If I need quiet time, I’m going to take it. I’m a far more pleasant person to be around when I have the energy to interact with others.

2. Plan to take a longer break.

Smaller breaks are wonderful, but they only postpone the inevitable burnout. I’m going to set aside an hour or two to read, listen to music, go for a run, etc. I will then tell everyone this and not feel guilty for doing so.

3. Volunteer.

This seems a bit counter-intuitive, but I find that helping out with cooking or washing dishes is an amazing opportunity to get away from the crowd and help your host/hostess out at the same time. The bonus is that it makes you look super helpful 🙂

4. Expect the unexpected.

There will always be surprises. Things will not always go as planned. If I remind myself of this, it helps me be a little more mentally prepared when the schedule inevitably changes.

5. Make time for the little things.

I have the tendency to jump right into things at my own expense. In the future, I will make sure I have enough to eat, I will drink water, I will take time to be in nature, and I will maintain my fitness routine. I may not have access to a gym but I can still go for a run.

How was your weekend?

Image credit: “Montana road trip” by Derek Swanson is licensed under CC by 2.0