Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How old are you now?

I had another blog lined up to share, but a dear friend asked me to post something regarding a conversation we had surrounding age and old thinking habits.  So, this is for Kathy and for anyone else who has ever found themselves acting like a juvenile when they are 30 (or 40, or 50, or 70!).

I'm 33 going on 34.  But this past weekend I found myself feeling 14!  And, not in a good way.  If I took an objective snap shot of myself at 14, things would look pretty good. I was tall, slender, talented, smart, accomplished, well spoken. . .  and horribly insecure.  I just wanted to feel pretty. I just wanted to feel smart. I wanted people to gush over how wonderful I was.  (Man, this is embarrassing to admit).  I wanted to be the best, and I wanted to feel like the best.  I wanted to feel like enough.  But of course. . . I didn't.

So, on Sunday I hosted a preview of my dance company's newest show "Dance Adventures in Stripes and Dots" in order to get feedback from a small test audience and see how the show worked as a whole.  The evening went well.  People enjoyed the dancing. I was able to actually perform (last year I was injured, and I really haven't danced that hard for 2 years!). It was a success.  And, my 34 year old brain new that.  I knew that it was a huge deal that I was able to dance fully for the 55 minute show and not end up crippled in back pain!  This was great!

And, yet.  It wasn't enough.  

The 14 year old inside me was not satisfied.  I wanted people to gush over me! I wanted to feel amazing and beautiful! Instead I felt insecure.  I wanted overwhelming praise, and I wanted it now.

Knowing something in our head doesn't made it easier to know it in our heart. The only way I know to process through these moments of old thinking is to feel them fully, to feel them in a way that I didn't let myself feel them when I was younger.  And, then get to the root and dig it out.

In my case, I want people to praise me because I want proof that "I am good enough." I wanted people to tell me I amazed them so I could feel like I had met my goal and accomplished my dream.  But, of course the reality is that no matter how good I am, the 14 year old belief set won't let me believe it.  Somehow at that point in my life I had already convinced myself that only praise from others was going to convince me that I was good enough.  I don't know exactly how I arrived at that conclusion (that part doesn't really matter), but the reality of those feeling were there.   

And they will continue to live inside me until I change my 14 year old way of thinking and feeling.  Until I believe I am enough (pretty enough, talented enough, creative enough) I will continue to encounter the irrational thinking of the 14 year old girl.

So, I get to start on the path by first confessing here in public that this is going on.  It isn't pretty, and it isn't fun, but it is honest.  And, by sharing this truth it demystifies it for my nervous system and its grasp on me loosens just a touch.   This is where my 34 brain gets to help me out. My 34 year old self gets to watch with love and compassion as my 14 year old comes barreling into the picture unannounced.  I will observe myself, see the hurt, fear and grief that I experienced before (as irrational as it seems now) and let it dissolve.  The grip will loosen a little with each moment, with each encounter, and, once I own that I am good enough, it will disappear all together.

But, I can't rush the process. I can't intellectualize my way out of it. I can't stuff it back into the closet or sweep it under the rug and expect change.  I get to own my story (as embarrassing as it is at times), and heal.


1 comment:

  1. So sorry I missed the preview! I would have gushed! I can still gush...Beth, you are AWESOME!!!

    The bizarre irony is that the artists who get the gushing from audiences are the ones who believe and know that they are awesome already and they don't much care what other people think of them. Just my armchair observation.

    So you are indeed on the right path. Admit where you are. Figure out where you want to be. Close the gap.

    Art is not for the faint of heart. Art is not for people who want compliments. Art is for people who have something to say (which you most definitely do). Art is for the courageous (And you are). Art is for people who want to effect change but almost never look back to see what kind of change they have produced. They're too busy working on the next piece. They kind of care. But not really. Look at Christo. Pollock. Michelangelo. Cunningham. Jooss. Martha Graham. Think she cared what people thought? Maybe in her dressing room a few minutes before the show. But never looking back. Too much to say.

    You are on the right path, Beth. I think it is awesome how much time and care you took to repair your body so you could dance for 55 minutes. I know what kind of discipline and heartache that took. Congratulations.

    As artists, we have to know our own successes, celebrate them and be our own cheerleaders. What did you do to celebrate that little feat? <3