LA is the biggest pretend-city in the whole world. I know it, you know it, we all know it. Love to be here, loving the people, but dang..
When you look around, it looks like everyone else has it together. Everyone is a model or a singer or a dancer or an actor, everyone is insanely attractive, wearing cool clothes, going to cool events, is chilling by the pool all day as if money is never an issue and everyone’s Social Media screams: “I’m confident, cool and collected – and I got some botox”. And somehow, everyone went to Drake’s Birthday party at Delilah last week.
Meanwhile, you feel like you’re just over here simply just trying to make rent through your 3 side jobs, trying to get 4 hours of sleep, and not only are you struggling with booking auditions, but even GETTING an audition seems impossible. The same choreographers keep ignoring you and not picking you to be in their concept videos or carnival pieces or X Factor performances or whatever, but they keep booking your friends. Ugh, AND they didn’t follow you back? Double ugh! You forgot that really cool step in a class last Friday, and according to the gram you’re the only dancer who makes mistakes apparently.. maybe you should just quit?
ALL of this is craziness is going on in your brain, and yet they expect you to… WHAT?
NOT compare yourself to other people?? Impossible. How!?
If there’s ONE thing that’s worse than people saying: “don’t compare yourself to others” it’s the people who adds a “just”.
“Just don’t compare youself to others” – as if it’s easy or what? Last time I checked it’s biologically heplful for me to see where I’m at in the Wolfpack compared to the others to make sure I’m not being abandoned and left to die alone in the forest. And if not comparing myself to others is supposed to be “such an easy task”, and I can’t figure out how not to, does that mean that I’m an even bigger failure?
Relax your shoulders.
First, a reality check
Let me start by reminding you that noone has it together. Not me, not you, not that girl over there, the famous athlete, not the CEO or the influencer with 90 gazillion followers.
You think, that dance job looked glamorous, well guess what – the dancers hated it because the choreographer was rude and had them work in ice cold water for 12 hours on an overnight shoot.
And that girl has a ton of money because her dad died, that’s why she can take some days off and not work this week.
That man over there acts like he’s a celebrity a big deal, but he hasn’t booked anything the past 9 months and is one week and one more breakdown away from saying “f*ck it” and move back home.
That dancer who’s a TikTok star just got out of a year in rehab.
These are not made-up stories. I wish they were. These are all people I know here in LA who you’d never guess is struggling. They’ll never let you see them slip in public.
Why am I saying this?
I’m not trying to make you feel better by trash-talking everyone else and not trying to make you feel better by saying “there are people starving in the third world countries, so don’t be ungrateful, some people have it worse than you”, because your problems are real and valid and we need to take care of you regardless of what anyone else is doing. You can be grateful for your life but still struggle.
Don’t let anyone gaslight you and tell you that what you’re feeling isn’t real or valid or rational. It is.
But my point is, that you don’t know what people are going through. Think about someone who you know really well and talk to a lot, and think about everything they go through and how you look at them differently than people who don’t know them. They look cool, calm and collected.
Same goes with you and literally anyone else you cross paths with. You don’t know anyone’s stories or what they did 5 minutes ago or what it took for them to get to where they are right now.
An excercise that helped me
An incredible Danish actress and writer, Hella Joof, explained something she called the “all or nothing”-theory.
Let me explain.
Everyone has something that’s going really well for them and everyone has something that isn’t going well for them.
When you find yourself thinking: “Ugh, I want her legs” or “Ugh, I want her boyfriend” or “I wish I was her, she’s such a phenomenal dancer”, stop for a second and ask yourself this:
Would I trade my entire life for her entire life? Would I give up my entire family and all my friends, my skills, my work, my struggles and where I live, my traits, my body and my dog for ALL of hers? Or do you only want the good things? Because that’s not how life works.
Sure you’ll get her legs, but you also get the fact that she can’t read. Sure you’ll get her boyfriend but you also get the abusive mother in law. You’ll get that girl’s dance skills, but you’ll also have to give up everything you have and everything you are for all of her.
You can’t pick and choose what you want and don’t want, because exactly like you, we all have unique and cool things about us, and we all have things that really sucks.
I don’t know about you, but there’s literally noone in this world I would trade everything I have with. Giving up my family for theirs? No way.
You don’t want to be the second best version of someone else
Trying to be exactly like someone else will never make you the best at it. It will maybe make you the second best version of them, and dance wise that won’t get you very far. Think about it! If someone wants to book a girl like the one you’re trying to copy – guess what! They’re gonna book her and not someone who’s really good at imitating her.
The faster you commit to being you, doing what you love and what you care about instead of what you think you should care about, who’s class you think you should take or who you should be friends with instead of who you actually want to be friends with – the faster people who are looking for you, can find you.
And it’s so much less stressful being yourself instead of creating this image or persona that you constantly have to try to live up to. Acting like something or someone you’re not is exhausting and will drain you faster than anything else will.
Your only assignment on this Earth is to be as you as you can be.
Your environment is everything
In loud and fast-moving cities like Los Angeles or New York or London where everything is go-go-go and we glamorize and pedestal fame and money, it’s very easy to get lost.
Instagram, TikTok, commercials – they’re all telling you what you should be doing, what you should buy, what you should desire… it’s non-stop and it will all affect you. You are what you consume.
If you’re in a group of girls who all care about getting their nails done, give it two weeks and you need yours done too.
Be around people who loves Louis bags, and you’re gonna feel like you need one too.
Be around people who talk about goals and dreams and mental health, and your brain will be filled with exactly that.
In the same way, other people’s dreams and hopes and aspirations can easily become yours and what you think you want too, if you don’t focus and trust your intuition. When you compare youself to others, ask yourself why.
Do I want what he or she has or do I just think I want it because everyone else do?
The red crayon-theory
Remember in Kindergarten, when you were minding your business, drinking juice, chilling out, and drawing a beautiful sky with the blue crayon. One of the other kids grabs the red crayon next to you to draw a heart, and you start crying and screaming, not because you need the red crayon, just because you don’t want that kid to have the red crayon.
But you never wanted the red crayon.
You never thought about the red crayon.
So why are you mad out of a sudden? NOW you want the crayon? That seems a little suspicious, my love.
When someone else achieves something and you feel that little “ugh” – be real with yourself- is this actually something you want? Did you need the red color? Or do you just feel that anyone else’s light will dim your light? That other people’s success will affect yours?
I’m not here to tell you that you’re a sh*t person for ever feeling like that, because we’ve ALL felt that at some point in our lives. It’s NORMAL.
But here’s a reminder: The sun can shine on all of us at the same time.
If that kid made you realize that you actually want to paint with red now, that’s awesome! Look at is as inspiration, and start working towards that!
But sometimes it’s good to close your eyes and say: “Do I want that? Why do I want that?”. Make sure you choose to go after things that are true and authentic to you because they make you excited and you forget to check what time it is while you do it. Not because it looks cool on the gram or because your friends are doing it.
Celebration time, come on!
No matter how you feel on the inside – celebrate your friends, celebrate your family members, celebrate ANYONE you know who achieves anything. Be happy for them, be generous with high-fives and hugs. Their success has nothing to do with yours.
I’d say, the times where you feel the most resistance or compare yourself too much, that’s when it’s the most important time to celebrate others and spend time with them to not make them the enemy in your head. They didn’t take anything away from you. In fact, having a circle of people who succeed in what they’re doing will only lift the group up as a whole.
I cannot say it enough: Social media is not real. It’s a highlight reel. It’s fake. For dancers it’s an absolutely amazing platform to showcase your best work to casting directors and choreographers, and it’s an amazing way to connect with other dancers!
But it’s not AT ALL a representation of what anyone’s reality looks like.
I cannot say it enough and I’ll yell it from a mountain top three more times if it’s needed.
Go look at my profile! IG: @mathilde.veje , it’s my dance profile where I share things from dance jobs, videos and highlights. In my stories I try to be a bit more personal and share everyday things, but it’s 0.01% of my day, and I surely would never hope that anyone would compare themselves to that.
I could write way more about this, but I’ll wrap it up by saying: look yourself in the mirror. You are beautiful, you are unique and life is too short for you to not focus on your own journey and path. You got this.