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On leaving ballet and normalcy

I am no longer a dance major.

If you know anything about ballet, as a profession/obsession/cult, you'd know that this is kind of a big deal. People who pursue dance (or any other highly competitive activity, for that matter) at a professional or college level are a special kind of crazy: they become at least a little accustomed to daily suffering, they're fundamentally driven by the bitter-sweet reality that they're not nearly good enough, and, most of all, they never feel quite 'normal.' I mean, it's not very normal to engineer your whole life to revolve around one thing, at least from such a young age.

But this blog post isn't actually about ballet, it's about something else that I've come to realize during the process of quitting...

It's kind of nice to be normal.


 Over the summer, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. She was talking about how high-achieving she was in high school, and how she had felt such an immense, invisible pressure to somehow extend a little bit beyond 'normalcy' in everything she did. Not even just in terms of how exceptional she was, but also in terms of how unique she was. For the sake of the future, of course. But now, after her first year of college, she'd become more content with the idea of nice, quiet, normalcy.

I nodded and probably cooed at such a quaint, philosophical thought. But in my head I was thinking, yeah that's probably true, but I still better become a wildly successful writer/filmmaker/media mogul. 

What's interesting though, is what ended up happening between hearing that friend's realization and becoming a hypothetical future media mogul. Here are a few examples: House parties with friends and lots of cheese. Sitting on roofs on foggy nights. Buying spontaneous film cameras from kind old men. Watercolor painting birds while listening to political podcasts. Walking to class and weirdly enjoying it, making pleasant conversation with a stranger and weirdly enjoying it, complaining with friends and weirdly enjoying it.

It's stupidly cheesy, but once I stopped doing everything with a buzzing background of ballet thoughts or media-mogul-internship thoughts, I kept having a different thought. A nice, and quiet, and normal one:

This is all I need.

House parties with too much cheese? This is all I need. Weirdly enjoying walking to class? This is all I need. Painting birds and listening to angry political podcasts? This is all I need.

I always thought of living a 'normal' life as something disappointing and sad, like settling for the thing you never wanted. But it turns out that it's a fucking relief.

I'm still going to work very hard and aim myself towards the possibility of becoming wildly and uniquely successful, of course. I'm a a classic overachieving perfectionist, it's in my DNA. But it also feels incredibly good to know that if I don't end up being unbelievably successful, I'll be perfectly fine. If this is all I need to be just fine right now, then whatever degree of success and accomplishment that may come after this will be a bonus. And I'll inevitably be just fine then, too.

 I've only been a non-dance major for like two weeks, but I'm already quite enjoying civilian life, so to speak. There are so many wonderfully frivolous things that people enjoy when they aren't constantly concerning themselves with their weird, higher power (whether that higher power be ballet, or the looming possibilities of the future, or always being the 'exceptional' one, etc): people learn just for fun, make art just for fun, meet new people, go new places. It's highly satisfying, if I'm being honest. And it's all we really need.

What a swell, normal life.







*photos of my friend, taken by me on an wonderfully normal day.

10 comments

  1. Congratulations on making that choice, I'm sure it wasn't easy. I know little about ballet, other than the fact that it's quite a competitive world. I hope you get to enjoy the normalcy you seek :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anna! It is quite competitive.
      Thanks for reading as always :)

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  2. I finished my first semester in college this past December, and I started out as a dance major. But after going to my dance classes every day, having to change out of my "normal" clothes and into a leotard and tights, and then changing back and rushing to my next class, I started getting tired of it, something I never ever thought would happen. After being a ballet dancer for my entire life, I felt burnt out. Now, I'm no longer afraid to say that I'm not majoring in dance anymore, and that there are no dance classes in my schedule for next semester because I want to give myself a break and a chance to breathe.
    I was a quite scared to "break up with ballet", in fear that I was disappointing everyone around me and wasting every single thing I'd done so far with dance, but I realized that wasn't true at all. It is so refreshing and reassuring to find that other dance majors are going through the same thing as me. I can't wait to experience a more "normal" every day civilian life, just like you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Noelle! It's definitely a weird transition for sure, and I felt a lot of those same things at first. It's weird for me because I'm still a dance minor, so though I'm not taking nearly as many classes as before, I'm still taking technique everyday 'just for kicks.' Lot's of love, girl. You got this. :) Thanks for reading!

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  3. I totally love this post. Your blog looks amazing, I'm definitely staying here :)

    www.itsclaudiag.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so happy for you! Leaving something you've been doing for years certainly isn't easy! I love having no set hobby (except blogging haha), as it allows me to do whatever I want when I have free time.

    Reine | Sincerely Reine

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  6. I applaud you for making a choice your well-being. I hope that you're enjoying simpler and maybe more relaxed life now. There is a beauty in simplicity :)

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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  7. I wish you every success and cheese party you could ever want, sometimes it is nice to free yourself from constraints and focus on your next step :)

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog

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  8. I stumbled on your blog on Pinterest, and I love i!t! This is the style of blogging I'm trying for (thoughtful, essay-type posts plus marketable, Pinteresty ones); you sound like the kind of person I want to be friends with. Followed you on Instagram too... you rock!

    ReplyDelete

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About me
I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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