The Cage

Some people think I’m rash, some say I’m brave.  I’m not too sure which to be honest.  Maybe a bit of both?

Since forever, but particularly since leaving school I have felt lost.  Free-finally not having to go to the hell which was school.  Yet, I felt trapped by my freedom.  I had so many choices that I did not know what to do with myself.  I know I shouldn’t exactly be pitied, there are people out there with no choices.  But for me, it’s my cage.

For always and forever I have been a dancer, that is what defined me throughout my childhood and through my teens.  It is what I used to excuse my failures;  not doing homework, not having a social life etc.

In my final year of school I decided to release myself from this label and life I had been living.  I wasn’t happy, so surely somewhere which was a combination of the only two things in my life, school and dancing wasn’t going to help.  So I decided to go to University.

Off I went to University, had an amazing time, actually made friends and was the least anxious I had been in years.  Until around June when this empty feeling took me over.  I became very anxious again and could not concentrate.  I had great friends who would revise with me and it was great being in a room with so many great people that I was privileged to call friends-but I was always distracted.  I would lose myself into another world-often watching dance videos online.

After waking up one night at the end of August struggling to breath I resolved that I needed to leave University, which had served its purpose and I was now ready to follow my dream-dancing.

Then a year of auditions followed.  This made me stronger and resilient-as anyone in the performing arts business knows rejection is something you need to get used to.  As well as pursuing my dance I studied acting for a year, which was a great learning experience.  I learnt much about acting and realised I still had a lot of work to do on myself,especially if this was a business I was serious about entering.  I didn’t get into anywhere I had wanted to go to.  I had however gotten into somewhere decent so I decided to take it.

Being at performing arts college was at times a dream come true, dancing every day and having to learn songs as homework didn’t seem too bad.  But with the good came the harsh realities; the importance of image, favouritism and the continual struggle to be the best.  This I could have faced better if I had a good support network around me.  Unfortunately I did not find this at college.  I found a few friends but nothing that could help me face the pressures.

Lots of people at college were amazing and I’m sure will have great careers.  Others, well I don’t really know why they were there.  Sometimes I felt people were there because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives.  It wasn’t a good environment for me, it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I wanted to be around like minded, hard working artists.  That’s not what I had.  I was lonely, stressed and constantly tired.  Sometimes wellbeing is more important than something you had set your mind on doing two years ago.  Priorities change.

Now I’ve left college my perspective has changed.  I need friends, I need to learn.  I need dance too, just not as a career.  When I was younger dance was my escapism, so when I felt afraid that’s what I went back to.

What I’m proud of is that I have followed my body and mind in what I was feeling.  But I also know that I can’t run away every time something gets tough.  That release I felt after leaving school was addictive.  Fleeing anxiety and fear was empowering, but I’m not going to get very far if I keep on running.  The more I learn about myself the less I want to run.  There are still days where I want to go back home and crawl into my bed and stay there forever watching a screen.  But I’m trying to stay focussed on living my life and getting to a place where I enjoy it and don’t feel the need to run away or escape from it.

The best we can do is try.

Until I read this post I hadn’t considered that my search for happiness and perfection could be what is getting in my way of being happy.  How do we change this?  I don’t know how not to want to be happy.  Interesting paradox presented in Radical Authenticity

Until next time,

Laura Joan xx

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