In my defense, I had a second blog post typed up in April, but didn’t feel that the emotions/ruminations that fueled its creation had settled enough to feel certain that what it said was actually what I wanted/needed to say. That post is now gone, replaced by what follows. So, story time:
Recently I’ve had to make some pretty important decisions regarding dance, not least significantly whether or not I was going to try to teach at my studio. Ultimately that answer was no, but through that decision, the difficult questions and conversations I had regarding it (thank God for the family and friends I have who put up with my stubbornness, angst, and often over-ambitious foolishness, and who guide me daily with their wisdom), and the grief-stricken period of despair that followed (yet another of my plans to fix the planet all on my own cast aside, alas), I have come to recognize many facts about how I have been approaching my life and, as many of those facts are unhealthy, things I want to do to change them. In the spirit of public confession, communal vulnerability, encouragement and accountability, I’d like to share them here.
First, I have once again been approaching my life through the lens of usefulness. As far as artists go, I tend to find myself fairly utilitarian. I typically don’t buy things I don’t need, I don’t take as much time as I should to stop and smell the roses; if something isn’t actively doing something to better the planet in a quantifiable (in my eyes) way, I question its worth.
And sometimes that’s the way I think about myself.
If I’m not helping, brightening, guiding, cheering, improving or what all else, I don’t feel useful. And if I don’t feel useful or that usefulness backfires or falls through, well, geez, what’s the point?
Unhealthy mentality number one, it would seem.
God loves me because He made me. I exist because He breaths the breath of life into my lungs. My value lies in the fact of His creation and love. Whether or not I’m being particularly useful at any given point rests entirely outside of that equation. Not only that, but when I am so hard on myself, putting weights on my shoulders that aren’t mine to carry, comparing my progress to those of others or questioning my value, I am actively tearing down what God wants to build up.
God wants me to be joyful in who and what I am. He wants to raise me up to be the beautiful, brave, warrior princess I am. Attacking myself and making myself feel bad or worthless is in direct opposition to that goal.
Related Goals: Grant myself the same grace I give to others. Stop comparing myself to others. Untangle usefulness from value and identity so I can focus more on doing things with God than for God.
Second, I am starving for community.
Because of my tendency to think people don’t like me, are mad at me, tolerate rather than enjoy me, etc., etc., it can be really, really difficult for me to let people love me. It’s not that they don’t, I just never open my doors enough to let them in close enough to really be able to show me. Couple that with a seeming lack of usefulness in the area in which almost all of my friends excel, the fact that I either don’t or aren’t allowed to spend fellowship time with the people at the places I spend most of my time, have chosen a field of work that is primarily conducted independently, rarely have the time, energy or schedule to spend time with my family and friends once all the other things I feel I have to do are finished, and the fact that I’ve either by my own lack of diligence and/or choice strayed farther and farther out of connectivity with my friends over the past couple of years, and you can see why I feel so isolated. I often feel selfish or guilty for taking more than I give into my community. I rarely let people draw me in close enough not to feel like the outsider. I don’t feel I’m as “good” or “far” as they are in life and pull back when I feel unworthy. I don’t want to hurt or disappoint them, and know if I get close that I will.
Unhealthy mentality two through about forty-five, I think.
People do love me for who I am. They do like spending time with me. I am a part of my community and one that adds value whether or not I see or recognize it.
Goals: Be more connected. Let people in. Be more willing to play. Give to the community but don’t feel guilty when I have needs. Be more interested and involved in their wants, needs, plans and goals and do what I can to help them. Don’t pack my schedule so full that I don’t have the time I need for myself and others. Be less self-involved. Be vulnerable enough to be loved, even if it means making mistakes.