In our pursuit to be good at our art, to be recognized for our hard work and dedication, to be seen as special, we forget that there’s more to us than just our ballet. We spend most of our lives chasing and building our selves in this perfect bunhead image at all costs - and turn our passion into an obsession.
The difference between a passion and an obsession is that one adds to your life while the other detracts from it. As we get caught up in the pressures of trying to prove our worth with our art, we forget that ballet is something that is supposed to build us up, something that’s supposed to enhance our experience on this earth. We turn something that is meant to be enjoyed by both the audience and ourselves into a serious situation that causes us stress and pain. And, we end up sacrificing our lives for it, which is what ends up happening so often with an obsession (whether drugs, alcohol, food, ect.) - we get lost in it.
We forget that things like our health and happiness are priorities, and we lose track of what’s really important. Our perspectives become warped as we shut ourselves in this bunhead bubble and allow our obsession to take hold of our lives.
There's something intriguing about the self-sacrifice that goes along with being obsessed with something. But one day, some event or situation will turn your world upside down, and you'll risk being rocked or destroyed. What happens when you retire? What if you get an injury and can't dance again? If your entire self-worth is tied up in your ballet, you are going to find yourself lost and searching for meaning. This is something I urge you to explore before it's too late.
This week I am in Malaysia visiting my boyfriend's family. Sadly, his mother passed away in December, and this is our chance to spend time with his family and pay our respects to her life. As tragic as her death is, we are using this as a reminder of what is truly important in life. These moments, these precious seconds given to us, we don't get back. And as far as we know, we only get one shot at this thing called life in these unique bodies we inhabit. When you are on your deathbed at the end of your long life (if you are so lucky), what are the things you will look back on and cherish? What are the things you will regret? What will you feel you missed out on or squandered? In my book, family, friends, love, connection, happiness, presence, peace, pleasure all trump my ego's manufactured obsessions. And, when I stop to think about these things that truly matter to me, I am given an opportunity to adjust course.
A great choreographer and dear friend once told me, "It's just ballet." This is a token I carry around with me for when things get too serious and harsh. Ballet is an art meant to be enjoyed...meant to bring richness to your life. It shouldn't feel like a survival situation every time you enter the studio. That is what an obsession will do to you. Don't waste your time here. Bring back your passion and let it fuel you.
"If anything, I would say that the biggest turning point for me has been these past few years when my dancing has transformed from being an "obsession" to being a passion. In the first instance, I was a slave to my dancing; I sacrificed mySELF and my happiness for it. Now, I am just as dedicated to my dancing, but I use it as a passion - something that fills me up and allows me to share my light with the world. Big difference."