Between the ages of 12 and 14, my dance life felt like a living nightmare. I returned home from almost every class frustrated and in tears, asking myself one question; “Why does my teacher hate me?” Here’s why I felt this way.
Over time I’d began to notice that my teacher would single me out, pick on me, sometimes embarrass me with correction after correction in class. I truly felt that she was out to get me, and her corrections were often harsh. I felt bitter, untalented, and downright angry over her unjust treatment. I even considered quitting. Some of my peers claimed they understood what I was feeling, but to me, it felt like I was alone in my misery.
Then one day, my emotions gave me away and I felt the tears sting my eyes as I was corrected in front of my friends. After class, my teacher pulled me aside and I dreaded what was coming. She looked me in the eye and said the words that changed my perspective on being singled out.
“I want you to know that when I correct you, it’s because I see the potential you have, and I’m taking extra time to mold and refine you into the exceptional dancer I believe you can be. That’s my job as your teacher.” She went on to describe her time as a student, when she and her classmates actually based how well they did in class by how many corrections they got, the more “attention” their teacher gave them, the better the class. For them, being picked on was a GOOD thing! She went on to say that she saw me as a diamond who needed polishing, and told me not to get discouraged during the process. I thought on that picture for a long time.
Sometimes teachers give corrections without follow-up encouragement, and that can feel overwhelming, but don’t think that their picking is a sign that they hate you or think you’re a terrible dancer, it’s actually the opposite.
There were times after my discussion with my teacher when I still felt frustrated or jilted, but then I would remember that most days I walked into the studio as a rock, but I would leave a polished diamond.