Entitlement – A Hard Habit to Break

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I will start this blog by looking back about 30  years when the dance competition scene was just getting started. I was a dancer at that time, training in my local studio. We had participated in several local talent shows, but we had never competed in the dance competition world. It was a relatively new phenomenon, and we entered into the competition not knowing what to expect. The competition maybe had a total of 35 dances and was structured very differently from today’s competitions. The dances were made up of different styles and ages and ability levels. There were no “categories” by age, such as mini, junior, teen, senior. No “categories” by style, such as baton, jazz, musical theater, hip hop, etc. No “categories” by how many hours spent training. Nope. It was 35 dances competing against each other.

Another major difference was the absence of multiple awards. There were no “participation” awards. There were no “gem” awards – such as platinum, gold, silver, bronze. There were no “specialty” awards, such as legs for days, or dancing diva, or fierce awards. Nope. Just three awards – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more – nothing less. If you weren’t in the top three, you received nothing. No participation ribbon. No make you feel good award. No “at least you got this award”. Nope – 32 dances got nothing.

And guess what. We survived. We felt disappointed and sadness, but we survived. We didn’t have any “special” awards to make us “feel” better. No – we had to face it, feel it, and if we wanted, be motivated by it. We didn’t quit because we didn’t win. Heck, 31 other teams didn’t win either.

Unfortunately I think we are living in a society of entitlement. We try to make all the kids feel good, so their self esteem isn’t hurt. I get that – and I am sure that I have fallen in that same rut as well with my students. I want everyone to be happy and love dance. But, the problem with entitled children is that don’t know how to handle disappointment and can prove to be a hard habit to break as an adult. If they aren’t the best dancer in the group, they get disappointed and quit. If they ARE the best dancer in the group, they get disappointed in other dancers so they quit. It’s not healthy for anyone – anywhere.

It seems that the days of doing your best, working hard, and being a part of a team are fading. Today’s dancers seem to want to be given chances and lead parts without putting in the effort. Today’s dancers have been given so many awards that they are starting to feel superior to their teachers or even master teachers.

I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. All I can do is try to make a difference in the dancers that I do work with. Remind them that their worth is not determined by a trophy or a placement in the top 10. Teach them that the true worth of a dance performance should be measured by its the message. The true worth of a dancer should be measured by their integrity, hard work and dedication.

I will leave this blog on this enlightening link shared by Chelsea Switts.

Spread love – Cathy

DeAngelo Williams is no fan of participation trophies and ribbons