So I don’t know about you, but I have a LOT of conversations with people about confidence. Talking with my friends, chatting with my coworkers, discussions with random people on the internet… Somehow it’s a universal conversation that needs to be had. And the biggest thing I get, is when people learn that I do burlesque, one of the main reactions is “Oh, I could never do that! I’m not confident enough for it!” I’m going to tell you something that may shock you… you don’t need to be confident to do burlesque.
Ok, yes, confidence is important as a performer and the audience can always tell the self-assured performers from the intimidated, but it is not a starting point. The starting point of burlesque is wanting to do it, then doing it! I remember when I was taking my first burlesque course, there was at least one point for every one of us where we wanted to quit or felt like we didn’t measure up. But luckily for me and my fellow newbies, we had (and still have) an incredibly loving teacher who honours our concerns and gives powerful lessons and love when needed, as well as a gentle push when we could step our game up. Even now, after performing for over two years, I have my days when I want to give up on a routine I’ve been working on for months or drop out of a show because I don’t think I’ll be ready in time (I am happy to say, that I have not missed a single show I have been scheduled for yet). But no matter how much I am struggling with a routine or a move, I persevere until either it works or I have to change it to fit what I can do. I know Performers who have been performing for five, ten, fifteen, however many years, that still have concerns with their bodies or their skill level at times and may have moments of wanting to give up.
But the beautiful thing about burlesque, is that there is a HUGE support system in place when you start to doubt yourself. And it’s an art form that you can easily tailor to your strengths...or work on a weakness hard enough until it becomes one! And if you need a break then take time for some self love. Some wise words from a few burly teachers from burlycon this last year, “push yourself, don’t break yourself.”
And from my experience, the more I do various actions affects how I feel about doing those things more often. The more I perform, the more prepared and excited I am to experiment and play. The more I sew, the better I feel about my costumes…even my ideas get bigger. The more I reach out to incredible performers I look up to, the less I hold back from being intimidated… and so on, you probably get the point by now.
Confidence is something that a lot of people work towards, and that’s just it, it’s something that you WORK on. I’m sure I’ll talk about it more in the future, but in the meantime, don’t let it be the deciding factor on whether or not you “can do burlesque.” Everyone can do it. So if you want to give it a try, then go for it. Get your burly freak on. And watch your confidence grow over time in different areas of your life. It literally just takes that one step to perform burlesque.