letter to myself in 2008


Dear me, circa 2008--

There are some things I'd like to tell you! Your plan for becoming a dancer (and your definition of what a professional dancer is) is pretty shallow. But that's ok, you're just getting started. Also, me circa 2008, please stop saying "professional dancer" because seriously, what even is that.

You are going to be doing amazing things in five years. Things you'd never believe if you could really see this.

Where to even start. You teach at The Dark Side Studio. You haven't been there yet, but it's going to feel like home one day. Actually, hey, remember that lady you messaged out of the blue on Facebook the other day? Audra? You were hoping to take classes with her, and just found out she'll be in St. John's soon.

Yeah, it's her studio. You'll be seeing her a lot. That's a deliberate understatement, me circa 2008. But you should get an unlimited texting plan, you're going to need it.

Remember that moment in Mount Royal metro station when the world blurred and then stood still and then started going really fast? Remember how you blurted out to your (amazing) sister "I'm going to dance... like as my life. Like my thing that I do." Remember how it felt funny because you had been pushing it down for so long that you didn't even know it was true until you said it? It just happened, so I'm sure you do.

Well right now you don't know, but you'll always remember that as a pretty important moment in your life. You've had three or four more like that since then. They're intense.

Some more things I need to tell you.

There are going to be days when you cry about dancing. In fact, you're going to cry more about dance then you've probably ever cried about any other one thing.

You'll cry about your own dancing, the dance community, the politics of dance around you, the way you can see yourself moving in your head but can never make your body do. Sometimes you'll be disappointed in yourself, in others, in events, places, and just plain old bad luck.

There will be ugly crying. Just roll with it. Your boyfriend will hug you and tell you it's ok every time (also SPOILER ALERT, you're going to marry him). Your friends, both dance and civilian, will be there for you.

It's going to be hard. You'll sweat, you'll be the weakest in class, you'll push, learn, read, watch, grow. It's going to be hard work and you're not going to feel like punching in every day. The whole concept of layering is going to make you crazy. You'll be remedial at finger cymbals. You'll have body image issues out the wazoo.

And sometimes it's wonderful.

Sometimes you'll see dances that are so beautiful you'll cry. The hairs on the back of your neck will stand on end and you will be inspired. There will be satisfying breakthroughs. For every day you wish you could un-invent dance, there will be two that feel like a Rocky montage. You'll meet teachers, students and dancers who will change you for the better, and they'll be your dance family.

You'll take really intense workshops that move you to tears. Sometimes, situations that are ordinary for everybody else--rehearsal, class, or just talking, will suddenly become pure moments of change or clarity and you'll be so completely overwhelmed you'll inexplicably burst into tears. It will be when you least expect it, don't try to manufacture that feeling and don't believe anyone who says they can.

So it's going to be a bit of an emotional ride. Circa 2008 me, you haven't been great at that, so buckle the hell up.

Later this year, you'll write that you want two things out of life--to dance and see the world. You're about to start putting in the work, circa 2008 me, and five years from now you'll be on the brink of getting a decent little thing going. I don't have the answers yet, honestly. I don't know if it works in the end, but I can tell you that you're going to try. You're going to have to talk to circa 2018 me if you want more details.

You literally will refuse to believe the calibre of dancers you will work with. The places you will dance, and the people you will meet. So I'm not even going to tell you, but it's going to be a fucking wonderful surprise, let me tell you.

Here are some things you should consider, circa 2008 me.

Be nice to people. It's the best shortcut to launching your career and being a decent human being. At the very least, try not to hurt people. They're going through all the same crap you are.

Not everyone is going to "get" you. Your dance style/fashion sense/sense of humour, deal with it. Make real good friends with the people who do, and tune out the rest.

Similarly, but quite differently, not everyone is "out to get" you. People are way too wrapped up in their own stuff to go out of their way to try to make your life miserable. So when people are cruel or inconsiderate or seem to be deliberately working against you, stop being so damn self-centred and remember their actions and words are about where they are with things, and have almost nothing to do with you at all.

Keep your sense of humour. Please laugh at yourself and others. You dance around to beep-boop music in bras that you sew sequins and little buttons onto. Get some perspective.

Ask for things. You won't realize this for several years, but if you want something, you are actually allowed to ask for it. No one will come arrest you for being presumptuous. Expecting to get what you want will probably lead to heartache, but being afraid to ask is going to hold you back.

Treat your teachers, mentors, inspirations, and friends like you hope your students and friends treat you someday. That's not literally how the system works, but you'll have a clear conscience and no regrets.

There's a lot more, but I can't fit five years of life experience and learning into one blog post. Stop being so impatient, me circa 2008. Oh, that's another one!

Now let's see what me circa 2018 has to say five years from now.

Anyway, big love, you got this, kay?

Love,
Me circa 2013

Comments

  1. I could write close to the same post... us Circa 2018 need to go have tea and discuss us Circa 2013. I'd love to hear what they have to say.

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  2. I know this is an older post- and I'm not entirely sure how I find myself here- but I left dance class today and sat in my car and cried... feeling a lot of these same feelings. Thank you for taking the time months ago to write it- my November 2013 self needed to hear it. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Jo!
      I totally know how you feel. I've felt like crying (or cried) after class or rehearsal or practice a hundred times. For all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes the whole thing just feels a bit overwhelming. I'm glad that my experience helped someone else too, and it's nice to know I'm not all alone <3

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