Dancing With Unemployment

I ™ll admit it; I ™m a reality TV junkie. Among my favorites are The Amazing Race, Biggest Loser, Survivor and Dancing With the Stars. Hell's Kitchen is pretty good too. Reminds me of some of my more stressful work situations, without the food.

No, I ™m not a fan of the more ˜colorful ™ shows such as the Housewives of DC, LA, NY or wherever. And as a second-generation Italian American, I ™m not digging Jersey Shore. What a train wreck.

I like the ones where people actually have to do something.

Take Dancing With the Stars. A bunch of one-time celebs and people of interest, preferably with little or no dancing experience, who are all sent to dance boot camp. This boot camp promises participants that they will learn something new, provides clothes covered in sparkles, new shoes (who doesn't want new shoes?) and that, in the end, their lives will be forever changed in a good way because of this experience.

mirror ball trophy

Don't forget the coveted mirror ball  trophy for the winner. Oh yeah, that's got to look good in the living room.

Here's how I imagine the experience to be. First it's exciting and sort of nerve-wracking, but you're treated well, get to hang out with a hunky (or hot) dance instructor, learn something new, wear fun outfits, etc.

Plus an endless supply of spray tans. Who doesn't want orange skin?

My guess is that the newness and excitement begins to wear off by day two. Especially after trying to move your body in ways you never thought possible for eight hours straight. By the end of the first week, I ™m sure contestants are begging to go back to whatever it was they were doing before they were sent off to be tortured. Even if it means going back to something that wasn't that great.

Despite the aches, pains and nerves, each contestant soldiers on, determined to give it their best. No way are they going to give up the chance to win a large orb covered in little mirror squares.

Each season there's always one contestant that strikes a chord with the viewers. Many times this person is not the best dancer, yet the audience connects with them emotionally. Last season it was Kirstie Alley. The oldest contestant on the show, she was not expected to make it through more than a week or two. Yet she finished in 2nd place.

This season it's Chaz Bono. He's got a lot of negative energy surrounding him: bad knees, not the best dancer, overweight and out of shape. Not to mention the publicity surrounding his personal journey.

Each week he receives one of the lower scores among the contestants, survives the elimination and is back in the studio the next week to learn again. Why bother?

Because it's important to take a chance and try something new. He's embracing change – literally “ and he's doing it in front of millions, including the super-critical judges. Sure, it's risky. But the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential reward, right?

Many who experience job loss have a hard time facing the fact that they may have to learn something new. Anyone looking for a new career opportunity has to be willing to try something different and take a risk. No looking back and wishing for the old job, the old desk, the former colleagues.

It's an emotionally painful time. Also scary. The perceived risk of attempting something new and failing seems too much for us to bear.

Despite the risks, we have to try. We have 2 choices, really. Move forward, embracing change and trying something new. Or sit still, wishing for something that is no longer available.

The good news is that we may actually find something better than what we had before. It may be something that we never would have considered, because we were too comfortable and afraid to make the leap. What's the worst that can happen? We try something new, give it our best shot, and if it doesn't work out, we move on. At least we ™ll have gained a new experience by stepping out of our comfort zone. And unlike the dancing contestants, our experience is not played out in front of millions.

I ™m ready to step out onto the opportunity dance floor and try my hand at something new. Wonder if I can negotiate a mirror-ball trophy with the salary?

© Tami Cannizzaro 2011 All Rights Reserved

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