“…Embrace the chaos now. It might not be everything you thought it would be…but be proud of where you are and what you’re doing.”
How often in our lives do we become burdened by the fact that we’re so busy? The #1 conversation rapport always seems to be, “How are you?” — “I’m good…so busy right now though”, sometimes followed by a sigh and a smile of faux positivity. We crave time to relax and be at leisure, without the nagging worries of adulthood. As dancers/artists and as human beings in general though, I don’t believe that to be our true nature. However, allowing ourselves free time is key to our success.
The largest contributing factor to stress nowadays stems from the fact that as a society we never stop to breathe and enjoy life. Even when at rest, we are plugged into social media in some way and are constantly and painstakingly aware of what others are doing. The overload of knowledge and the stress of comparing our lives to one another can be exhausting. The more artists I encounter along my path, the more I realize just how unique of a brand we are. The understanding that every second counts is not lost on us. From the gym to the studio to teaching to second jobs, dancers are always on the move. Since there is such a lack of funding for the arts, we are driven to provide for ourselves and our art form. Survival in the arts requires that you never slow down. There is no room for fatigue, hesitancy, or frustration. So we’ll just think about our stresses and our less than practical workloads tomorrow (as Scarlett O’Hara would say).
Although I am a huge proponent of hyperactivity (I always have to be going or I feel like I’m doing something wrong), it can lead to some pretty deteriorating stress and anxiety-not exactly the ideal state of mind for artistry. The older I get the more I am able to understand and witness the reality that the body, holistically, is essential to success in dance. I’ve thought many times before that I could get away with overloading myself – maxing myself out with cross training, going above and beyond in the studio, teaching for hours on end, and attending to a second and third job. But giving 110% to every task doesn’t guarantee me instantaneous success. It doesn’t hurt to have work ethic and drive, but too much can lead to pulled muscles, fatigue, stress, and a lack of passion and self-purpose. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of your whole self. Your ENTIRE body and mind is key to your success as a dancer. That’s right I said entire. So just because you have on a happy face and are taking the world by storm one ballet class at a time, that doesn’t mean you’re well. Take the time to nourish the other aspects of your self. Take a yoga class, cook yourself a nice meal, meditate, read a book, do whatever you need to embrace the fact that you are a human being with needs, not just a balletic robot in a leotard.
“…I am a huge proponent of hyperactivity, [but] it can lead to some pretty deteriorating stress and anxiety-not exactly the ideal state of mind for artistry.”
Contrary to everything I’ve just said, it is an amazing feeling to be busy and to feel successful and accomplished. If I could take back many (but not all) of the days that I spent complaining about everything I had to do, when they were all perfectly good things, I would. Be grateful to be productive and thriving. Be grateful that you are able to be busy. Because some are not. There are so many worse things in the world that you could be experiencing and dealing with, but instead you are here, living this life that you chose. You can always take a different path in the future, but that requires you to embrace the chaos now. It might not be everything you thought it would be, and it’s human to have complaints, but be proud of where you are and what you’re doing. It is your here and now; do not resent it and let it pass you by.