There are a lot of misconceptions I used to grab myself to. Some of them came from my parents – their belief system, passed on by their parents. Others came from the societies I´ve lived in – Portuguese,Spanish, Egyptian. Others seemed to come from nowhere; from my head; from the sole of my feet.
One of these misconceptions, which I kept in a properly locked box, was the idea that if I was talented, professional, strong, generous, honest and kind to everyone, I would be loved and respected by everyone. The fact is that some people will hate you, envy you and wish you bad, no matter how great and kind you are to them. In fact, the better you are, the more they hate you. It´s a lost battle.
A couple of years ago, I had an interesting chat with a fellow dancer to whom I was complaining about the competition between dancers. There was another dancer – who knew my name and followed my work for years – who clearly hated me. She smiled and hugged me but, make no mistake, she hated me to her guts. She´d read my book – “The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond” – and knew each one of my steps; she swallowed the frog and congratulated me for my performances at the show; she tried to be diplomatic but, when no one was around, she would be rude to me; she´d run away from me at breakfast, promising to join me at my table and then vanishing into thin air; she´d even order me not to laugh so loud, apparently disgusted by my vulgarity (according to her, a proper artist doesn´t laugh out loud or speaks with strangers in a familiar tone). She observed me from afar, with a snake like stare, and I bet she had a voodoo doll with my face in her room. Right after the show, while other dancers were congratulating me, she unfriended me from the Facebook. Just because. Note: this is not a beginner, unknown dancer. This is an older dancer who is well known and respected (?!) by the dance community. Which makes it even scarier.
I was telling this other dancer, a member of my Wonder Women International Club, about this unexpected hater. Here´s what she answered me:
-Of course a lot of people, especially women, will hate you. There will always be envious folks and, to make things worse, you´re not relatable. If you were talented and professional but you were a bitch, they´d love you. You would have a visible flaw that makes you human and, I repeat, relatable. But you´re not. Rest assured: they expect you to be untalented, ugly as hell or a bitch, one of the three. When they find out you´re not, their hopes of a weakness are lost and they put you on a pedestal. Some express that pedestal through adoration and others express it through hate. You don´t need to do something bad to them – they do it to themselves. There´s nothing you can do to avoid them from pouring out their frustrations over your head. They will, no matter what you do. You are distant from them and they feel they can never reach you or be like you. It´s irrational but it´s there. I´m sure you´ve seen it many times. Don´t expect people to love you just because you think you´re lovable, especially people who don´t love themselves.
Haven´t I seen it? I´m always caught off guard by it but, yes, I´ve seen it too many times. Then comes my x-ray vision. Meaning: I know what people around me are thinking and I detect that sour, metallic scent of envy from miles away. I often ask: what did I do to her to make her hate me that much? I search and search and search for a reason and I don´t find it. The reason is HER. Not me. The problem is hers. Not mine.
Sad but true: greatness can give birth to success but also hate. Loads of them. Especially in a world dominated by women, women who still don´t know about their own potential for greatness. A caged bird hates a bird that flies. It doesn´t matter how kind, beautiful, talented and honest that flying bird is. It will still be hated by the caged bird.
Then comes the CROWD pleasing. Another trap. Coming from a Catholic background – although with an open minded mum who has a particular dislike for priests and the whole Church paraphernalia -, I was always told not to make waves, to obey my elders – or superiors (whatever that means) – and to follow what the majority is doing. But that has never worked for me. Not now. Ever. My career launching in Egypt was a good proof of my marginal nature: I never obeyed the rules or aimed at pleasing the crowds. In fact, I made of point of breaking the rules and doing my thing, independently of what the crowds expected of me.
Now that I´ve been travelling the world and dealing with an immense variety of people, each one with his/her own culture, education, head, values and way of living, I confirm the sad truth. Although, deep inside, I´d like to satisfy my catholic ancestors; although I´d like to connect and be appreciated by everyone, I just can´t. Crowds don´t know what they expect from you and crowds are composed of individuals, each one with his/her own opinion and his/her own wounds. Try to please everyone and you will freeze – you won´t be able to move a finger. Expect everyone to love you and you won´t be loved by anyone.
Doing YOUR thing, what rings true to your soul (without hurting others on the way up) may be the KEY. If there´s a key. Some will hate you – just because – and others will love you. Many will be inspired, even the ones who hate you. There´s nothing more compelling than a person who lives her own Path and shines her own Star.