“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
So let’s start with the year 2019, it looked to be a very awesome year for me. It was under my zodiac sign and since childhood I have believed it meant a year full of good luck (don’t really know who told me such nonsense). That’s why I was so looking forward to my 12th and 24th birthday. You know what, if I will be blessed to reach my 36th birthday I will finally read the horoscope before getting too excited. Actually, writing this I am now checking what was said about the year 2019 for those who are born under the Pig sign.
“One’s zodiac year is known to bring misfortune, and this was certainly true for 2019” (Wasai, 2020)
Everything is making so much sense now.
Now I am reading about ‘Pigs in the Year of the Rat (2020)’
‘The Year of the Rat will surely be better for the Pig.’(ibid.)
As the year is not over, I will give it a go, although for now it doesn’t seem very promising.
Anyways, I am not writing to complain about my life. It is beautiful. I am writing to share a part of my dance journey through which I had to learn some hard but important lessons, especially in these past two years, and in this world-changing moment, these lessons seem more important than ever. I believe that among you, my dear readers, are some who might be able to relate to my story in their own way.
I guess nowadays in society many of us often feel that we need to succeed and that success is equal to our happiness. Life must have clear goal. Pure living and enjoyment of life cannot be the purpose of it. This has always been at least, my point of view. I had to succeed, although sometimes I wasn’t even sure what my definition of that is. All I knew was that I needed to be successful, otherwise my life is pointless and I will be unhappy (now I am thinking about a caveman. What would be his thoughts on this?). Unfortunately and fortunately (who knows) in last four years my main focus was to succeed in dance.
“What does it mean?” you may ask, “Success is very subjective!”
“That’s very true”, I would say. “It is hard to answer because the image was constantly changing as would go forward. I guess that’s why I didn’t and would never have succeed”.
Nonetheless, my mind-set and hard work brought me further than I could ever imagine. I have to note, I have never had any kind of talent in anything. Nothing has come to me easy – every little accomplishment has required a lot of work. A lot of work and determination. Especially in dance. Every step that I have taken which might seem very, very tiny from outside has been a huge for me. For instance, simple as recording myself dancing was something I could never imagine daring to do. However, on the other side, my assurance that I need to succeed in something, fear of disappointing myself and others as well as high expectations for myself already since childhood has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. The consequences from that especially manifested during my time in gymnasium. As hard as I tried, I found I was no longer able to reach the bar that I set for myself. I suffered from depression, panic attacks, hallucinations, and insomnia. My inability to fill my own requirements and expectations of myself, led me to the decision that I don’t want to be on this world anymore…. but Life had other plans.
After this seemingly lowest point in my life, my mental health improved as I changed school, studies became more manageable for me. Also for a year after graduation when I was studying pedagogy I felt better. Probably because it wasn’t too crucial for me to do well in there. However, every stress and anxiety related symptom I had returned and became even more intense when I moved to London to study dance. This was too important - the pressure was on again. It especially affected my sleep. Sometimes sleeping 2-3 hours many days in a row, or some nights not at all. I was often extremely exhausted, but I always pushed through and didn’t allow myself to miss anything because of this. The words “I can’t” no matter the reason, was equal to failure.
After graduation I went to do a 5-style dance program in Åsa folkhögskola. The school was amazing – classes, location, jams, food, people - yet I started to question the path that I had chosen. I was so stubborn that even when realising that I might not want the same as I used to, I would still go against the flow. As absurd as it may sound changing a goal for me was equal to giving up (according to my mind-set there is nothing worse than giving up). My mental health was not good and insomnia got even worse. Many nights I prayed this to go away because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Ironically that later it really did but I never imagined what the price would be. As people say, be careful what you wish for.
After finishing my studies in Åsa folkhögskola I returned to London to keep improving as a dancer and reach my goals which I still hadn’t let go. However, Life took more drastic measures to make me to listen. I got a knee injury.
It has now been almost seven months since I danced and since my seven year sleep issue almost disappeared. Still, for a very long time I stubbornly held to my four years ago chosen path. I used to always think: “Next month. Next month I will start to get back into dancing” (as it has been very unclear how long the recovery will take). Then the next month would come and I would still not be able to dance. I always viewed my situation as temporary and postponed ‘living my life’ like this time wouldn’t actually count. But I can’t pause the life, can I? It is still going, always going – with or without me.
I know that without the injury happening I would most likely never stop. I would keep going till I am completely destroyed. I would never ask myself, what do I really want? and what I really need? I would have just kept pushing myself and try to follow the popular Western template of happy and meaningful life, even if I would feel unhappy along the way.
Certainly, my dance journey has been amazing and I am so thankful for it. It has made me very happy in many ways but now it’s time to let go old dreams that don’t serve me anymore. I am not saying goodbye to dance but from now on our journey together will be different.
I pray that someday I will be able to move and dance again without fear and pain and I pray that when this day comes - our relationship will be much healthier.
It is still a long way to go but I am on a path of realization that I am not required to succeed in anything and in anywhere. I can find happiness in simplicity and do whatever I do just because it bursts me with joy. I am on a journey where I don’t need a CV to confirm my value to have a happy life. Although there are still some cloudy days when I feel sad, I wouldn’t change anything that has happened or is happening to me. When I look back to my life – everything falls in its places. I trust Life. I know that eventually also all of this will make sense.