Is Pursuing Dance My Parents' Dream or Mine?

October 22, 2018

I don’t understand why I’ve lost my motivation to dance at 20 years old. My parents have always encouraged me to have a life plan and ask continuously how my pre-professional training program is going. I feel crushed by their expectations. I’m actually relieved when I get injured and can’t dance, even though I miss it.

—Confused, Nashville, TN

Involvement from parents or mentors is crucial during dance training. However, the desire to pursue this career long-term has to come from you. When other people become too involved in your dancing, seeking what’s called “achievement by proxy,” it’s easy to lose your motivation because you’re doing it for them. That’s when self-sabotage can rear its ugly head in the form of injuries, avoidance or quitting.

My advice is to thank your parents for their support, but let them know you need some time to decide on your ultimate goal. A new teacher may provide inspiration, or perhaps you should simply ask your program for a leave of absence to see how you really feel without dance. A survival job combined with cross-training, to stay in shape, may give you the necessary space to discover if dance lies in your future.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at [email protected].