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Confessions of A Perfectionist: Carrying Fairies

Confessions of a Perfectionist
By Sarah Beth Byrum

Last week, I opened my new studio location. It was a labor of love, and after twenty years of teaching dance, who knew that I had lessons to learn? First of all, when it comes to construction, double the timeline and the budget. Second of all, it will not be perfect.

I am a confessed perfectionist. My whole life, I have heard people say that things are “good enough,” when I was looking squarely at the thing that was not nearly good enough.

Whether learned or inherited, my need to go above and beyond is come by honestly and it has served me well. I have been a straight A student, a top scoring dancer, a successful business woman, and I have worn my superwoman cape proudly and flown my overachiever flag high.

This past week, when it was time to open our new studio, things were not “good enough.” 48 hours before our first class, the texture was drying on bare drywall, the underlayment held no floors, and there was not a toilet to use, unless you count the un-mowed lawn in the back. My family and I, along with some amazing friends and studio families, went to work. We spent 15 hour days painting, moving, cleaning, fixing, and creating. And by Monday morning, it still was not “good enough.”

I cried all morning about how to open in a space that didn’t meet my own exacting standards.

Our first camp of the summer was Fairy Garden Camp. I am known for my magical camp creations, and I was determined that this would be no different. At midnight, after a full day of work, I began decorating. We moved in mushrooms and picket fences, lily pads and fairy wings, and I did my best to believe that it was “good enough.” A dear friend told me, “your dancers don’t come for your decorations, they come for YOU. Put on a smile, and that’s all you need.” I took her words to heart and plastered on my biggest smile to greet dancers in my less than perfect space.


Mother Dirt

The workers were there Monday morning to finish laying floors, which meant that we had no access to the lobby, and the only route to the bathroom was walking around the outside of the building. Cue fifteen little fairies in ballet slippers, who instantly had to go potty every five minutes. The majority of my morning was spent scooping up fairy princesses and carrying them on the outside path through construction rubble to visit the restroom. Not my idea of perfect. But guess what? In those imperfect moments, magic happened. I giggled and told stories and heard about their favorite parts of dance class. I got to slow down and help wash little hands, and fluff tutus, and straighten fairy wings. And it was the best part of my week.

Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But did it teach me what I needed to learn? It certainly did. I gave myself the grace to love my studio space, and to love myself, even if neither of us were perfect that day.

And to realize that sometimes magic can happen in the messiness.

So the next time I hear that inner voice tell me that it’s not good enough, I may just take a deep breath, scoop up a fairy, and enjoy the imperfection.

Published in collaboration with All That! Dance Company
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All That Dance Company

Also by Sarah Beth Byrum:

Trust the Teacher: Be A Cheerleader, Not a Coach

Dance Class: The Do’s and Don’ts

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