Jul 12, 2021
4 mins read
This is has nothing to do with how to write a resume, in case you came across this on a Google search. Or the Olympics.
For years, I've come across dancers' resumés and bios where people have billed themselves as Champion of So-and-So/Professional Blah-Blah-De-Blah/World's Greatest of Whatever. And I love the self-confidence of throwing these titles out into the world and believing people are too busy to do an internet search.
Personally, I am an Olympic gold medalist ballroom dancer.
I AM KIDDING.
I am the champion of nothing, but I have had a pretty decent career in ballroom dancing. You can still Google results I had from 2005, not to mention many after that. And I'm "old", AKA Instagram didn't exist until I was well into my professional career.
I'm in an industry where the people who compete professionally are working to be the best. Like, HUNDREDS of couples are out there, every year, trying to be the best. Taking coaching, traveling, buying costumes, practicing, working their asses off, ALL WANTING TO BE THE BEST. And you know how many people win a national title every year in their style? One couple. Two if you want to be generous and add in the rising star title, but then you're on a slippery slope to adding in the winners of the biggest or most prestigious or longest running or it's-nearly-the nationals comps that are out there.
IT'S OKAY NOT TO HAVE WON.
Oh, don't get me wrong, it sucks. I didn't spend thousands of dollars and hours and tears and swear words to be a completely adequate professional. But this was the path I chose.
AND I DON'T CLAIM I WON A BUNCH OF SHIT I DIDN'T WIN IN THE HOPES NO ONE REMEMBERS THE DANCESPORT SCENE 10 YEARS AGO.
BECAUSE THEY DO.
People who know what you did, know what you did. Those knowledgeable people will search you out for their desired dance experience. Personally, if I'm looking for a Rhythm coach, I know that person's name and how to contact them.
But the people who don't know, don't care. If someone is Google-searching "ballroom dance lessons", they want a great teacher. People who don't know about the dance scene want to learn about dancing from someone who a) knows how to get them to dance b) is fun to be around.
As with massaging titles in one's resumé, samesies for using the signifier "professional". Here's a definition:
[only before noun] connected with a job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education/professional qualifications/skills/professional standards/practicea. "An opportunity for professionaldevelopment" "If it's a legal matter, you need to seek professional advice."
(abbreviation pro) (of sports) done as a paid job to make a living and not as a hobby [editor's note - even if paid]
There are MANY amazing amateurs in, let's say BALLROOM DANCING. But being an amateur ballroom dancer and a professional ballroom dancer are two different things. There are different competitions and titles between the two, and an implied level of proficiency at, oddly, teaching ballroom dancing when one calls themselves a professional and often a time commitment surpassing even world-class amateurs.
Lastly, using time as an indicator of awesomeness also needs to stop.
"I've been playing trombone for 30 years" is true, except should we really count that first four years when I didn't really know what I was doing, or the years I loved band, but hated practice, or those 21 years after my band years where I didn't play one toot, but now have recently literally picked it back up again? Pro'lly not.
Time spent at something is no indication of passion, talent, hours practiced, skill, or proficiency. It might simply indicate a prolonged tolerance for a certain activity.
When you have to write that damn bio or resumé, stick to the facts of your awesomeness [there are many, I swear]. Find the best [most accurate and encapsulating] adjectives. Use testimonials and references. Have your friends help [they remember your best qualities better than you do, I swear].
You don't need a trophy or an inflated title, or a made-up title, or lifetime of experience to be really great at something. But you do need that passion, talent, hours practiced, skill, and proficiency.
GO GET IT.