If you know that I'm a ballet dancer, you can probably guess that I've spent a whole lot of my life wishing, planning, and working to reach a level of ballerina-perfection that is always consistently (and annoyingly) faraway.
Growing up, ballet taught me not to be happy with less than perfection. After all, how could I possibly be happy with myself when I'm so hopelessly flawed? I thought that being satisfied with my less-than-ideal self was the equivalent of giving up. It would mean I didn't have enough ambition to change, or I wasn't willing to work hard enough. I thought that hard work meant slaving away endlessly for a single goal or dream, and never accepting anything less.
This wasn't just in ballet. I always promised myself that I'd be happy when I got in better shape, or stopped procrastinating, or did more creative things, or was more social. But those things never came. Even if I was unusually social, or ate really healthily, or had a productive day of studying, I told myself it didn't count until I was consistently more outgoing, until every meal was impeccably healthy, or every day was productive. I filled my head with I'll be happy when..'s instead of letting myself be happy now. Because although the not-being-happy-with-less-than-perfection mentality can be useful in practicing technical ballet steps, it doesn't apply in every context. Not every person has the ability to do every single thing amazingly well. Does that mean they're a failure? Like come on, I'm never allowed to be happy with myself if I don't measure up to every wish? What if it wasn't meant to happen in exactly that way? I just can't be happy, then? I spent all of high school on the verge of being happy, because that's what I believed.
I filled my head with I'll be happy when..'s instead of letting myself be happy now.Well, I'm tired of it, now. I was driving in my car the other day, and I found myself wondering: am I happy right now? Not specifically in ballet, or in school, or with my appearance, but in everything all together-- am I genuinely happy with myself right now?
And for the first time ever, I decided on what seemed to be the truest and most impossible answer: Yes. No conditions, no explanation, no promises, no wishing; just an over-stressed, moderately sweaty, very tired me realizing that I'm alright, and that life's alright, just as it is right now.
The funny thing is, I'm a complete mess right now. I've been getting way too little sleep, I've been struggling to keep up with my school work, I've been crying at everything sad or touching, I've been laughing hysterically (and way more than usual). Of course there are still many things I'd like to work on changing in my life (as well as some things I wish had never changed). I'm starting to realize, though, that I can't power my entire life on wishes. I'm never going to stop working as hard as I can, but I'm not only going to do it for the sake of a single wish; I'm going to do it for myself, because hard (smart) work makes me feel good. If I'm being honest, nothing has been going the way I originally planned or "wished." I'm shamelessly insecure, terrified of the future, and awesomely imperfect. But somehow, right now, I'm also remarkably okay. And I'm going to let myself be happy with that.