In honor of the "Invasion of Privacy" release and it's opening track, a very frank discussion on getting back up after spectacular failure.
Ever have a really bad night? Like a really not good, terrible, hot-garbage-on-the-stoop-on-a-hot-summer-day kind of night?
That was me last night. It was bad.
It was frat boy bad.
It was “I approach you and you ignore me” bad.
It was unwanted contact and gross dude behavior bad.
It was traumatic experience bad.
And worst of all, I was bad.
My game was off.
I couldn’t get traction.
And on top of that I made unwise decisions.
I drank, I got upset and I quit early.
I let myself fall off.
I woke up this morning with nothing to show for seven hours of my life other than a hangover.
It was upsetting. It was not fun. And honestly, as someone who is trying to create content that espouses good habits and quality sales strategies, it was really embarrassing.
But you know what? This morning the world hadn't ended.
Nothing was fucked.
This made me realize that these types of nights are usually warning signs: they're how you know that you're making decisions that will veer you off your path if you don't get them in check. Because I've never had an extremely rough night when all the other parts of my life are complete and I'm on top of my game.
I don't mean I've never had bad nights. Bad nights come and go. The difference is when I'm on top of my game, the bad nights roll off my shoulders like it's nothing. I'm not talking bad nights here though. I'm talking terrible horrible no good nights.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), it is not the first time that I've had a terrible horrible no good night. It probably won't be the last, either.
I'm human. I make mistakes.
So do you. So do all of us.
So, I wanted to write about what to do when you fall off the horse.
Clarification: I'm not saying that how I get back up is the only or the best way. In fact, this skill is still one of the hardest things for me to get done as an entertainer, and part of writing this article is to connect with other dancers that have different strategies for getting over failure.
However, I do have some ideas about what works for me, and what may work for some of you.
This is for anyone out there that has had a similar night.
I'm going to write down the steps I take to unpack a failure and regroup, and will include my process today as an example.
An audit is just a fancy word for checking up on yourself and on the situation. Once you're removed from the club, from your co-workers and from spaces that stress you out, give yourself some alone time to go over what happened, and over the steps that it took to get to that point. Ask yourself some questions like:
What went wrong?
It could be that you started your night too late, or that you partied too hard the night before. Maybe you've been skipping out on some habits that usually keep you organized and forward thinking. You should be honest with yourself, but please don't be mean to yourself. It's easier to do if you imagine that you're talking to someone you really care and love (like your best friend or your sibling) about their habits. It's you showing concern, not you being hurtful.
Also try to keep the responsibility on your shoulders. While it might feel good in the heat of the moment to place blame in others, the only way to change yourself is by taking responsibility for all of the situation; not just some of it.
Q: What went wrong ?
A: I didn't get enough sleep before going in to work, and I didn't eat well or eat enough before my shift. I skipped going to the gym this week, and without working out I tend to lose my focus and have less patience. I also haven't been keeping up with small daily habits like writing my goals down in the morning and right before work or like calling my friends and family regularly. All of these probably contributed to me having a tough time.
Once I got to work, I didn't give myself enough slack to relax, calm down and hit the restart button after dealing with some pretty rough customers. Because I was feeling impatient, I tried to have a drink as a shortcut into feeling better, and it backfired. In the locker room I was thinking about how fun it would be to go out on the town instead of thinking about how fun it would be to accomplish the goals I set out for this time in my life. This lack of focus likely led me to ignore warning signs from a very difficult customer that I might have otherwise picked up on.
How bad is the damage?
Damage could mean property damage, emotional damage or physical damage.
You may have broken a glass, or someone may have broken a glass or spilled a drink on you and ruined your favorite outfit. You may have thrown your phone against a wall in a moment of anger.
Emotional damage is a likely suspect on difficult nights, too. Depending on how difficult or out of control a situation got, you may have upset a customer, a co-worker, or your manager; more likely, someone may have really upset you. If you are in a difficult relationship or if you have friends that aren't supportive, you may also be dealing with the fallout of personal difficulty.
Sometimes the damage can also be physical. We can deal with some pretty rough situations on the job, and I've had customers that have almost choked me out, spilled drinks on me, given me gnarly bruises by slapping my body without my consent, and even men that have tried to full on sexually assault me.* If your night really took a bad turn, you may be dealing with knee or hip injuries from falling in heels, or some physical fallout from pole work.
*While these situations suck to write or to read about, they can be part of this industry so I'm not leaving them out of this post. I would like to point out, however, that interactions like this are not everyday, and that you should never expect or tolerate being treated like this. For every piece of shit dude like this there are hundreds of amazing customers that have respected my boundaries and taken great care of me. But these scenarios are a possibility in an industry that mixes very different people together, and then throws in lingerie and liquor.
Q: How bad is the damage?
A: Well, my head and my stomach hurt. But I didn't sustain any mid or long-term injuries that will affect my income, so that's good. Emotionally, I got drained last night. I'm upset at myself for having had such a rough night and for taking it out on some of my support staff, who were only doing their jobs and trying to be helpful to me. I'm upset at myself for drinking and making the problem worse, and for looking weak and unprofessional in front of my co-workers. And I'm upset at the customer that created a very uncomfortable and unpleasant situation for me.
Will you have to do damage control?
Part of auditing what happened is realizing that you may have some homework after the fact. Whether it was your fault or not, recovering from damage is how you get ready to take another shot at succeeding at work. So, it's useful to ask yourself what you need to do to make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice, and what you can be proactive about doing to avoid finding yourself in unmanageable situations.
Q: Will I have to do damage control?
A: I will. I know that I didn't treat one of the staff members at my club with respect, and I will have to go out of my way to make sure he's happy. This may mean giving him an extra generous tip, or it may mean getting him a useful present that will make his life easier. It will definitely mean apologizing sincerely. I will have to do some personal damage control as well; it's important that I take time to be grateful for what I have today, that I take time to relax and to eat well, and that I talk to supportive and loving friends that will emotionally replenish my reserves. I need to work out, to meditate, and to take the time to emotionally recenter myself.
Accept & Forgive
After running through what happened and breaking it down into manageable parts, you get to do the difficult work.
If you're someone that aims to do better for themselves (and if you're seeking out content to improve yourself as a dancer, that puts you soundly in this category) it can be really hard to forgive yourself. It's so easy to carry around guilt and shame, and so much harder to accept the parts of ourselves that don't match up with who we want to be.
That's why this part is the difficult work.
Whatever happened, however bad the damage was, you have to look at yourself...and then forgive yourself.
However you talk to yourself throughout the day, whenever that little voice says that you messed up, or that you could do better, or that you're [insert unkind adjective here], from here on you have to deal with that voice directly.
You don't have to make it go away; trying to not think about something will almost guarantee that you fixate on it. But when those thoughts come up, it's up to you to tell yourself that you're worthy, you are awesome, and you deserve to get your wins.
Whenever you think "I'm such an idiot...." or "I can't get it right...." you will actually start to believe it. And that's bullshit, because the fact that you're even trying to change those habits means that you're not an idiot. It means that you can get it right. But before the change happens externally, you have to learn to accept and love yourself internally.
This process may not happen the first time. It will not happen overnight. It can take a lot of work to undo years of negative self talk or of low self-esteem. And this process is never over. It's like lifting heavy weights; if you stop, even for bit, you will get weaker. You have to keep practicing, and you have to do it as often as possible.
But the fact is, no matter who or how you are you deserve to put in that work for yourself.
There are tons of resources on how to improve your self-talk and your self- esteem, and I've linked some of them at the bottom of this article. I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.
While working on this part is a constant process, the next step to take right away is to...
Remember that list of things that went wrong? This is when you actively aim to improve your daily habits so that the same list doesn't happen twice.
Did you sleep too little? Make sure you get the amount you need before showing up next time.
Did you stop working on your hustle outside the club? Make a schedule that prioritizes your creative projects and gives you motivation to go in.
Drink too much? Then don't do it again.
Because our mistakes often arise out of repeated habits, it's not always easy to change them. It doesn't happen just like that and it will take time and effort to course correct. But it's going to be a lot easier than waking up in a year, five years, or a decade and realizing that you didn't become the kind of person that you can be proud of. Difficulty is relative here.
And since you've already taken responsibility for what went wrong, it is now your responsibility to work on it.
This is the easy part. It's easy because if you've looked over what went wrong, accepted that it went wrong, and then set on a new course, then going in again can be exciting. It can be really fun to give it another go after a spectacular failure.
Think of it as your do-over. The chance to do it again, and to get right the parts that went wrong.
Luckily for us, we have opportunities 7 days a week to improve on what went wrong the last time we aimed and missed the shot. There are always new customers, new strategies to try out, and new opportunities to succeed.
There's always an opportunity to get better, to make more and to succeed at a higher level; even after the most spectacular failures you have a chance to show yourself that you're tough. That you're resilient. And that you deserve your success, because when you fall nine times you will get up that tenth time and go for it again.
I hope we all have a great night tonight. We deserve it.
Self Esteem Resources
TED talks bring together experts from all over the world on a diverse range of topics. Their advice, combined with the additional resources that they usually point out in their speeches, can make a world of difference.
This talk has a lot of good content about practicing good emotional self-care:
Primed Mind is an app developed to help you reach your goals and to create the right mindset conditions to overcome adversity. It was developed by a professional poker player, and has some really good sessions on overcoming downswings.
10 Percent happier is an online meditation coaching website and app that has some valuable content on getting your head in the game, practicing self-love and compassion, and creating focus. While it's a paid service, they do have a good set of free content if you're looking to try it out.
Finally, for a burst of energy and self-appreciation the sage words of @jstlbby on instagram will change your whole day. Plus, she does a series of talks with her hands that will make you smile no matter how you feel.