Ep. 159 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 159 Transcript

Dr. Chelsea: At the end of every dance season, there's a time to say goodbye. Every year, as both a teacher and a coach, I watch young men and women I've grown close to graduate and move on to the next phase of their life. Whether it's at banquets or graduations, watching a senior leave the program is usually heavy with some complex emotions. So today I want to share my thoughts about saying goodbye to our dancers during this time of transition, because it can be hard.

So if you're having a hard time letting go of a few dancers this year, well, welcome to the show. This is Passion for Dance, the podcast for dancers and dance educators. My mission is to create happier, more successful dancers through mental skills, and one mental skill I often focus on is resilience, and big life transitions usually need some extra resilience. So let's talk about saying goodbye to our graduating dancers.

And if you've been listening to the show for a while, and I hope you enjoy it, I would really appreciate a little love and support. Visit www.lovethepodcast.com/passionfordance, and you can easily share your love for the show so that I can continue to create episodes like this. Simply following and reviewing the show can make a big difference in my efforts to bring the show each week. So again, you can visit www.lovethepodcast.com/passionfordance, and thank you for your support!

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[Motivational Music]

Hi, I'm Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and mental performance coach. I know what it feels like to be a passionate dance teacher who cares about your dancers, but you want to challenge them and help them be their best, and I also recognize that some traditions and teaching practices in the dance world are harmful. So I'm on a mission to change our dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers using positive mental skills.

When you understand how to help your dancers with their confidence, how to find their own motivation, work together as a team and more, your dancers will unlock new levels of competitive success and happiness. And it's not just about them; you deserve the same. So we'll talk about how dance teachers can use positive mental skills to be more confident, resilient, and motivated as well.

Be sure to hit “subscribe” wherever you listen to podcasts. There are new episodes every Thursday, and each week you'll hear from me and my guests with advice and actionable tips for building mental toughness, covering topics about mindset, motivation, resilience, and building a community. Passion for Dance is a show designed to help dance educators like you have a positive impact on every dancer you teach.

[Motivational Music]

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It Can Be Tough to Say Goodbye – 2:35

When you've been working with dancers for a year or four years or since they were little, at some point they leave your program and we have to say goodbye. I know not every situation is the same, but for many of us passionate dance educators, we create significant connections to our dancers, and seeing them graduate and move forward can be challenging. I know those complex emotions are just as strong for the dancers as it is for you, the teacher. There's this combination of excitement and sadness altogether.

I had a hard time too, as a coach, and I saw it recently firsthand. I was actually just judging a tryout where the graduating seniors were there to help run things. They were a huge help, but at the end of the day, the new team was announced, and I was smiling ear to ear (you know, that fun, excited feeling when you watch that new team celebrate and hug and all the tears of joy that they made the team). But then I looked to the side and I noticed the group of graduating seniors next to me. They were quietly huddled together, tearing up, clearly trying to keep it professional because this was such an exciting time, but they were struggling to hide their emotions. With the announcement of that new team, they were officially alumni, and I was reminded of all of the emotions that can just collide during these transitions.

End of season emotions are hard, but that made me think of all the dancers and students I have said goodbye to over the years. That's a lot of years of coaching and teaching. It's a lot of people. And of course, some of those goodbyes were more emotional than others. But even if you maintain a relationship as they enter the next phase of their life, you're leaving behind the current stage where they are dancing as a part of your program, and that transition can be tough.

Three Things to Remember When Saying Goodbye – 4:20

I've learned a lot over the years about saying goodbye and the mindset that helps you be resilient to this kind of change, so I want to share. Here are three things I try to remember when it's time to say goodbye.

#1: Think of Your Own Resilience – 4:33

Number one is to think about your own resilience because dance is pretty much a 365, all-year kind of season. The end of one season rolls right into the next. When there's no break, that makes emotions more complicated. And again, not every season is the same, but the majority of the time there can be a real sense of grief when a season ends. Sometimes it's grief over a specific relationship or group. Sometimes it's more about what you were able to create together, and there's that sense of heartache when you've performed together for the last time. Sometimes it's truly emotions of celebration and happiness. But regardless of the emotion, I think it's important to realize that the end of the season overlaps with the beginning of the next, and you need to take time to actually experience those emotions as that chapter closes.

No matter what you're feeling at the end of the season, take a minute to reflect on that and give yourself a moment to process. If you've listened to the show for a while, you’ll probably know by now, I'm a fan of journaling, and this is a great opportunity. Sometimes I would journal and write it out, and other times for me I would pull out an old scrapbook or my box of notes from dancers that I've had over the years and just read through their letters. Just an hour spent looking back on those happy memories helps me close that chapter and move on to the next with the commitment and excitement that that new season deserves.

So however you process it, the point is to give yourself intentional time to experience the end of one season before going full-steam ahead into the next one. You don't want to suppress the emotions and bottle it up until you “get through the next thing” because there will always be a next thing. So give yourself a chance to have a real break, mentally, the opportunity to feel however you're feeling when all of it comes to an end.

#2: Reframe The Idea of a Goodbye – 6:26

Second is to reframe the idea about saying goodbye. You don't have to say goodbye. Say, “See you soon!” Any psychologist will tell you that just saying the word goodbye can be really difficult for people. It feels final. It feels too serious and complete. So if you're struggling with a certain graduating senior, or maybe you're leaving the team and the studio or moving onto new opportunities, it doesn't have to be goodbye. Think of it as “see you soon.” It can reign in the negative emotions and make it feel a little less definitive.

When I left day-to-day coaching to transition to my new career as a business owner and professor, I definitely treated my last banquet as a “see you later” moment. I was very emotional knowing I wouldn't coach again, but I knew it was the right time, and I intentionally went through that night saying, “I'll see you soon,” or “Until next time.” You know what? All the “see you later” sentiment turned out to be true. I did see many of them again, and you can see them and maintain those relationships with dancers, if you choose to, as they become adults. The end of the season doesn't mean the end of a relationship, if you don't want it to.

Other times, you might intentionally want to close that chapter before moving forward, and that's okay, too. But know that you don't have to say goodbye. So when you reach the end of the season, if that's hard for you, if you're struggling to say goodbye, just say, “See you later,” or I like to think of it as one of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

#3: You’ll Have a Lasting Impact on Your Dancers – 8:04

And number three, to all of the teachers and coaches listening, I want to remind you that you make a bigger impact than you probably realize. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that even if you say goodbye and you don't see that person again, you are still a part of their life.

So think about the people who have made an impact on you. Was there a coach, a teacher, a mentor along your journey who made an impact? And if there is, do you still think about that person, even if you're not connected, even if they're not with us? Do they still influence who you are and what you do? I hope you have at least one of those people in your life. I certainly have a few at different phases, and I think about them regularly. You know, “What would she do in this situation?” or, “I'm so happy with my new job. I wouldn't be here without her.”

So what I want to remind you is that you are now that person to your dancers. Even when you say goodbye, you will have a lasting influence on their lives. They will think of you and the lessons you taught, the motivational phrases you've said a million times. When you are a positive mentor in a young life, that work doesn't stop when the relationship shifts. Your work will always be with them.

So maybe it is goodbye and you won't see them again, but your impact continues. For me, that makes watching these seniors graduate a moment of genuine happiness. I'm able to let go of any sadness because I can watch them and hope I've made that lasting impact. Even in a small way, I know It will carry on, I'm always with them, and that matters more than my emotions in the moment.

So you can say, “See you soon,” if that helps. But it's also okay to go ahead and say, “Goodbye.” You'll always be with them. So never forget the power of that impact, and thank you for being the type of teacher who is making a positive impact on the dance world. Please keep doing it, and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!

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[Motivational Outro Music]

Thank you for listening to Passion for Dance! You can find all episode resources at www.chelseapierotti.com/podcast, and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more high-performance tips at @dr.chelsea.pierotti. This podcast is for passionate dance teachers and coaches who are ready to change the dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers. I'm Dr. Chelsea and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.

[Motivational Outro Music]

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