“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King

Hunger always beats talent.

You might not believe this but even when I started running Toronto Dance Salsa seven years ago, I was extremely insecure about my dancing – especially Bachata. I was in a relationship at that time and every time I saw my partner dance Bachata with someone else I would get extremely jealous and insecure. When she danced Bachata with other people, they could make her smile in a way I never could.

I was so resentful. Not even of her but of those other dancers who could give her something that I could not. I got consumed by it. Instead of being fueled by it and resolving to train and work my butt off because I could do this, I gave up.

I thought “The game is rigged. These dancers are already so far ahead, I cannot possibly catch up. They have so much talent. They must have come out of the womb dancing Bachata and being able to shake and do body waves. I don’t have any of that, so I won’t bother trying.”

When the relationship ended, I hit the reset button. I had to stop making excuses and go and try. But I was embarrassed and self-conscious about my Bachata. I even avoided dancing Bachata at Toronto Dance Salsa. I would secretly go to other socials where people didn’t know me so I could practice.

I remember my first Bachata night at Alley Cats which was a popping place for Bachata back then, I was dancing the second song and I spun a girl and her head hit the table! That’s how bad I was. But I was also hungry.

I was hungry because when I was learning Salsa, I also learned that no matter how bad you are, no matter how much you lack talent, hunger beats it all.

And so I stayed hungry. Six days a week, I would dance Bachata. I would not go to Salsa socials, I would only dance Bachata. Bachata, Bachata, Bachata – all the time. I would only dance Salsa when I was teaching my classes.

About six months in –  and I can still taste the sweetness of this moment – I was dancing Bachata at another social. The song ended and I walked away smiling and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around as the woman I was just dancing with pulled me in and whispered in my ear – “Thank you. This was the best Bachata dance of my night and every girl needs to dance with you to know what Bachata should feel like.”  Then she walked away.

I was almost in tears because she had no idea how hard I had to work to get there.

So what I want to tell you is that whatever you want to have, you can. Wherever you want to get to, you can. Just don’t make the same mistake as me. Don’t compare yourself to others and think that the game is rigged. Just because someone is further ahead than you, just because they pick it up faster than you, just because their genetics make them skinnier or fitter than you or more this or more that or less this and less that, it doesn’t matter. All of those ideas prevent you from growing, and this limited mindset got in my way of knowing the truth.

Hunger beats it all.

Hunger beats it all. 

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