Compete HAPPY: Staying Friends with Your Pole Competitors

NWAAC 2015 Debbie and Lori

NWAAC 2015 Debbie and Lori

There are a few things polers seem to have in common past our love of spinning on a metal pole; we glitter everything, own lots of cats (or pets in general), AND have a competitive streak as wide as our shorts are small! While the former can bring pole dancers together, the latter has the possibility to create a wedge between even the closest of pole friends.

Competing is meant to be something that helps further polers’ careers, ups their skill levels, pushes them to become more creative and dedicated to their craft. And yes, it’s about seeing who has the best performance at a given moment, by specified standards. Nothing wrong with that, just also not a something to ruin relationships over. Plus the pole community is small and if you are making a living in the pole community bad relationships are also bad for business. However, the months training beforehand and the final day of competing are stressful ones and it’s easy to forget that you are there to do your best and not, in fact, to make sure others do worse than you.

NEAAC 2015 Kaitlin and Sammy

NEAAC 2015 Kaitlin and Sammy

Know Yourself

Know who you are and what you are comfortable with. I’ve had several friends decide not to compete because they feel that they are just naturally too competitive to do so in a healthy way (showcases are perfect for those who feel this way). I’ve also had friends turn down opportunities to train together because they know that it will bring out a negative side in them. These are all great and necessary observations to have about yourself and will make your training process all that more enjoyable. Just because you and your friends or fellow studio members are competing doesn’t be you have to train and compete together.

Perhaps you love training with others (I do!), that just means you have to know yourself even better because jealousy and a tendency to compare can take hold. Remind yourself often that everyone’s competition journey is different, just as everyone’s strengths are different. Just because your friend is nailing a super difficult trick you can only dream of doesn’t mean you don’t have something equally awesome to share with the world. Be confident in your own path and other polers successes and failures won’t affect you.

Jealousy Sucks

Jealousy sucks a lot, it does, especially because we often get hit with the green-eyed monster before we have a chance to scare it away or control it. My personal belief with jealousy is that it is going to happen and that isn’t necessarily terrible, it is what you do once you recognize that you are jealous that makes it good or bad. Bad: you let it consume you, hinder your progress, talk bad about those who you are jealous of, and spend your time stressing about someone else unnecessarily. Good: you realize why you are jealous of that person, celebrate their awesomeness, and get inspired by them. My trick for combating jealousy, which I get hit with a lot, is I share or comment on their video/pic. By immediately making my envy known I take away some of its power and I get to look at that person’s work the way I should – as something awesome and to be inspired by.

NWAAC 2015 Samantha and Malvika

NWAAC 2015 Samantha and Malvika

Set Clear Boundaries

Stress is at its pinnacle right before you compete and so it figures that that is also when you are most likely to let it all out on someone close to you. Just because you love training with people doesn’t mean you want to spend competition day with them and just because you don’t mind spending competition day with them doesn’t mean you want to spend the hour before and after your performance with them. That is completely cool, just let your friends and family know ahead of time. Set clear boundaries with those who are most likely to want to interact with you at difficult times that way when you stare straight past them because you are so focused on your performance they know it’s cause you are concentrating and not mad at them.

Accept the Outcome

It legit sucks to not be placed where you think you should be in a competition. You should absolutely find a space to let out any frustrations you might have….just not on social media or in the studio or with the polers you competed against. If you have a real concern over scoring speak to the people who run the competition, but more likely you just need to vent – stick to partners and friends not directly involved in the competition. They can be there to support you, but also not be personally affected by your venting. Same thing if win the whole damn thing. Be excited, you kicked ass and deserve to celebrate (as does anyone who participates), but you don’t have to rub it in the face of fellow competitors. In fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a poler do this, but I want to make sure to cover all my bases.

Knowing how you like to compete and being clear with friends and family will make your competition experience an amazing one that brings you and your fellow competitors closer together!