7 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

Jan 27, 2021

Today’s post is by Team Member Ashley Mowrey, a Performance Mindset Coach at AshleyMowrey.com.


With competition and performance season upon us, I have been reflecting on what I would say if I could have a conversation with 15-year-old Ashley. What do I know now that I wish I knew then?

1. Her Success is Not Your Failure

Dancer, there is room for all of us. Their 1st overall does not mean you failed. Her scholarship does not diminish your hard work and efforts. Him being front and center in the dance does not mean he is more worthy of love and belonging. It does not have to be one against the other.

It's okay for those moments to sting. Feel it, lean into it, and let it move through you. Then, go sincerely congratulate your teammate or competitor. We rise by lifting others.

2. Your Work Is Not Your Worth

I know how hard you worked to get that 1st overall. And I know how much it hurt when the very next week you slipped down to 4th. I know how hard it was when you tried your best and didn't get the scholarship. You felt like you weren't enough anymore. But Dancer, you are imperfect and you are enough. Your worth is not dependent on your work. There will always be room for growth in your work. But you are enough right now. Exactly how you are. You are worthy of love and belonging. Right this minute.

3. You Are More Than Your Body

This is one that still makes my heart ache. When I look back at you, I know that your body and your weight are at the forefront of your mind at all times. You have so much more to offer the world than just your body. I know growing up in front of a mirror in a leotard has distorted your thinking. I know getting praise from your teacher for losing weight (even if you were doing it in an unhealthy way) is confusing. I'm sad for all those hours and days you spent counting calories and defining your worth based on the number on the scale. I'm sad it followed you into adulthood and is still occasionally a struggle. But my dear Dancer, you are more than your body. You are your heart. You are your mind. You are your soul.

4. Success Is Not a Destination

Success is not some place where you will arrive. And it’s not linear. Success is the lessons, character, and growth you find along the journey. Your journey will have many ups and downs. But it's supposed to! That's growth. That's where the good stuff is. You will learn more from your mistakes and failures. You will grow from it. You will pick yourself up and keep going. You will find joy in the process. You will find gratitude for yourself and others in the darkest moments.

You are forever evolving and forever growing and that is success.

5. You are allowed (and encouraged!) to set and hold boundaries with your parents and teachers

Boundaries are invisible lines that separate you and your feelings, needs, and thoughts from those of others. They also tell others how to treat you, what is okay with you, and what isn’t. So often in dance, especially with parents and teachers, our boundaries can get so blurry. Your parents and teachers are likely not crossing any boundaries on purpose; they may not even be aware they are. But it’s okay for you to speak up about your needs, how you want to be treated, and when you’re uncomfortable with what someone did/said or how something was handled.

6. Other people's opinions of you are none of your business

I know, I know. This one is hard, Dancer. But please hear me. It does not matter what they think of you or your dancing. You are wasting so much time and energy worrying about what they will think. It’s draining you. It’s holding you back. I promise you these people are not judging you and criticizing you like you think they are. And if they are? Okay...so? That tells you a lot about them, not about you. You’re strong and brave and you are not dependent on the opinions of others. You have to make the decision to let go and know you cannot control someone's thoughts and opinions of you. Next time you start to worry about someone's opinion of you, stop and ask yourself, "what would I do right now if I were less dependent on their opinion?". Then do that. Slowly you'll build up evidence to fall back on when you're really struggling with this and you'll be able to say, "Yep, last time I was worried about what they would say, but I did it anyway, and it wasn't that bad. I can do it again."

7. For a healthy mindset and to increase the longevity of your dance career, your validation has to come from within.

Not from a trophy. Not from a scholarship. Or a teacher. Or mom. From you, Dancer. Praise feels good, right? And that's okay. You're human. But let's take a look at what you're doing primarily to gain praise and approval. And what's the cost of those things? How are you losing yourself? If you are dancing and competing to get that validation that you're enough, which, Dancer, I know you probably are, I want you to know I understand. But I also want to say, with so much love and empathy, that you will never be the best you until you can unhook from that praise and find validation from within. You are imperfect and you are enough. You do not need a trophy, Instagram followers, or praise from Travis Wall to tell you that. Is it nice? Yep. Should it be your motivation and source of worthiness? Nope. You are so much more than that, Dancer.

There's so much more I would say to young Ashley, but those are the 7 things that are on my heart right now.

So much love,


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