Dealing with Disappointment in the Pole Community

I’ve been mulling over a post about disappointment for a while, but it took me a bit to put it together. I feel like I see disappointment from pole almost every day, from my friends’ posts on social media to my own personal experiences, and it got me thinking about why it seems so common, as well as what to do about it.

I think one of the magical things that keeps people coming back to pole is the sense of validation they get from their achievements. The feeling of nailing your first spin or trick, of working hard on something for weeks and finally getting it, the feeling of marked growth that can be had…all of it is an addictive validation. Couple that with the sense of community – the support one can find from friends and classmates, the sense of tackling a problem as a team or group – and pole can be a pretty powerful experience!

As is normal with things that you get invested in or come to love, expectations can run high. I think it’s natural to get excited and maybe set your expectations a little high. The thing about expectations, though…they’re often a set up for disappointment.

I once had an ex who was all about no expectations, because he felt that expectations always bring disappointment, and he never wanted to be a disappointment to anyone. This is pretty extreme, and in a way, a means of never having to commit to anything to the full degree required for success. Expectations are a natural part of any relationship, whether it be with a person, or with a hobby, a passion, etc. Perhaps, with a passion like pole, the expectations are a little more like expecting things from yourself, or the community, or your friends. You want to do well, and you expect to get that new trick, combo, etc. You expect your community to support you, your friends to celebrate you. And, it can be pretty disappointing when something you expected, or even hoped for, doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

So, how do we cope with disappointment? In my personal experience, there’s a lot of hurt. A lot. Like, butt-hurt level hurt. Sometimes, that can lead to complaining, lashing out, needing to verbally talk through everything. Sometimes, it means taking a break – from a class, from your friend(s), from the community, from pole itself. Distance can be a pretty powerful salve, if you are inclined to need some time away to clear your head and get perspective.

Another solution that I like is creativity. I find that when I am most disappointed with pole or the pole community, when I’m at the point of wanting to throw in the towel and walk away, hurt and sad…the thing that pulls me back from retreating fully into myself is the act of creation. This could be working to develop your own curriculum; reaching out to teach somewhere new; jamming in a studio on new tricks; freestyling your heart out; even doing crafts, or focusing on something creative outside of pole. For me, there is also writing.

The act of creation gives you a chance to have direct input into an artistic endeavor that is not subject to anyone else’s expectations or whims. It’s also a distraction, to be frank. Something positive you can use to move through the negative.

If you’re suffering from disappointment of the physical kind – i.e. not being able to get a trick everyone else has, or not progressing as quickly as your friends – take a step back and try to find the thing that is yours to do. Maybe it’s not rocking that janeiro, but it could be your low on the pole flow, or floorwork, or freestyle. Try to invest in what is yours to do and let go of the expectations of being “as good” as everyone else. The trick may come, or it may not. All you can do is feed the healthy, positive things, and continue to try to put your best foot forward with the hard stuff. Feeding the good is the best way to set yourself up for success with the endeavors you find difficult.

Dance it out. Photo by Alloy Images.

Dance it out. Photo by Alloy Images.

If the disappointment you feel is a result of emotional reactions within the pole community – maybe a rift between friends, or a disagreement at your studio, as examples – remember that space and time can help heal the rawness. Taking a break from the environment or people that are causing the upset can give you some space to get your head around what is actually happening, how you feel about it and why, and what you can do to make a positive impact for yourself. Also, take a moment to remember that many of our personal thoughts can be distorted, causing us to interpret things in a manner in which they were not meant (look up Cognitive Therapy for more on this). It is with these emotional disappointments that I find creative activities to be the most helpful. Sometimes, your feelings really do need a creative outlet to be expressed. So, go with it, and find your creative niche. Create something wonderful for yourself.

On a closing note, I wanted to add this: Pole can’t and shouldn’t be the only thing in a person’s life. When I was still acting, there was always this adage that actors need to live full lives – not only to help their creative work (i.e. understanding characters), but also to have more to talk about than acting. I feel like this applies to pole, too. I think pole can be wonderfully restorative to dancers going through a tough time, and I think it can be a joy for those looking to have fun, blow off steam, be creative, etc. I also think incredible bonds can be forged amongst those in the community, based on their mutual love of the activity. But relying on pole for too much brings in higher expectations, and therefore, the chance for very deep disappointment. Cultivating passions beyond pole can help lighten the load and improve the fun you do have with it. Plus, you’ll be a richer person for it. J

Do you have any tried-and-true methods for coping with disappointment from pole? I’d love to hear them!

About Danielle C

Actress, writer, consumer of too much sugar, cat mom, dog auntie, pole enthusiast, amateur foodie, local explorer. Often mouthy, occasionally political.

Posted on May 12, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. True words! Once again! A customer of mine gave me a good hint how to deal with dissapointment! When we are in training together and it seems that nothing would work and we can’t nail even one move, she often says: “Okay, let’s now do something easy in which we just look amazing!” – Seems ridiculous but it works! Not forgetting that even a normal starter pose, an “easy” spin, a sensual laying on the floor could look perfect, helps while you just thinking on: “I can’t do the janeiro!” – “I am not flexible enough for the Twisted Ballerina!” – “My splits are looking horrible!”

  2. What you have to remember that not everyone is built the same,I used to be able to do splits when I was younger,everyone has a move that they have mastered,I teach and take great pleasure in seeing a student finally accomplish a certain move,I know we all wish we could be fantastic at pole don’t be so hard on yourself,as long as you have a laugh,enjoy the class, look for the competitions to enter that suits your capabilities to get self satisfaction,pole 2 pole run many competitions,and the Judges come from different parts of the world, the judging criteria is not just tricks,its spins, stage presents, choreography,music which matches what you wear,give it a try!! go to,and do hope this helps you xxx

  3. From the perspective of someone who’s very new to pole, what Nadine said had me nodding my head. I’m so new that I’ve yet to even successfully do a spin yet, but I can tell you that the difference between a class where I walk out frustrated and disappointed vs. a class where I feel accomplished and empowered generally hinges upon being taught moves that are easy, but look fabulous and feel good.

    For me, one of the things that really helped keep me encouraged is when teachers offer an easier alternative piece of choreography. There’s really nothing that frustrates me more in a pole class than not being able to do a spin and having that be the piece of choreography that transitions the dance to the floor, and then have no guidance on an alternate way to get on the floor other than just ungracefully sitting down…. It just feels yucky.

    I think there’s a balance that often needs to be struck between pushing yourself so you grow and get better at things, and just dancing to feel good.

  4. My girls have ‘work in progress’ moves …… The ones they find difficult – I encourage them to work on them for a small part of the lesson and then we work on nice transition moves that everyone can do and I also like combinations of moves that they are competent in and there are tons of these type moves out there ……. I love the sense of positivity that these type of moves give the girls ……. You get that sense of achievement still because you are able to perform them plus it’s a challenge because they are strung together in a different way so comes the buzz …… A nice little video clip of them performing and I’ve got some happy bunnies xxxx

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