So, it has been six months since I started ballet class!
Time for a retrospective? Hmm. I think ballet has done good things for me physically. I am stronger, more flexible, and generally more mobile than I was six months ago. My joints are never going to be pain-free, but being able to use them at all is pretty good. Dance has also been good for me mentally. Because I enjoy it and there are not that many things that I enjoy a whole lot sometimes. Because it gives me a chance to spend some time working instead of thinking. I spend an awful lot of time in my own head, which is good because I like my own company, but isn't perfect because no one in the world can screw with your mind like YOU can, right? Sometimes not thinking about things is just a nice break. And also, ballet makes me turn my standard modes of thinking on their head.
If I have a fatal character flaw (aside from hardly ever spelling "character" correctly on the first try) it has got to be my deep frustration with myself when presented with something I am not immediately good at. This goes along with my other worst traits: perfectionism and an unfortunate tendency toward fatalism. I had a terrible time in school, the entire time, because aside from being bored out of my mind half the time and ignored academically almost entirely, I just didn't feel like I should have to work so hard at anything. Like, it never felt fair that I wasn't good at anything right out of the box. In my head I was totally awesome at everything, from music and dance to sports and science. All of it came so easily in my mind. But in reality there is all this frickin' effort and time and patience. Ugh, I was just so annoyed by that. This is why I didn't get my driver's license until I was TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD. Like, work ethic? What the hell? I don't need no stinkin' work ethic.
I always get kind of annoyed when people prattle on about my "talents". I actually had a customer congratulate me on my talent, once. Which is nice I suppose, in a way. But talking about "talent" makes it sound like my work comes easily to me and there is no effort involved. Like I sprang from the womb with mad design skillz and a firm grounding in clothing construction techniques. As much as I love and admire my mom, I must admit that my pre-birth experience was rather unremarkable and pretty much limited to growing limbs and floating around in goo. I went to college for this skill, and worked so very hard at it. I cannot find words to encompase the vast oceans of tears involved in the 4+ years that went in to honing those "talents". But, while it bugs me when people find out what I do and say something stupid like "oh, I could never do that" or "that is so cool, I wish I could do that" (then... do it?) I understand where they are coming from.
Ballet totally reroutes this pattern of thinking, though. I won't ever be particularly good at it, but the process is enjoyable. And I need to keep that in mind because it is very easy to compare yourself to others and worry that you are lagging behind them in dedication, skill, or a hundred other things. Just because Sally Sue Someone was taking four classes a week and by the end of year one was en pointe every Saturday doesn't mean that you have to be, too. Your own path can be as slow or as fast or as exciting or as cucumber-cool as you want and need it to be. It's hard to let go of the knowledge that every day, in every single moment of your existence, someone is judging you and finding you lacking. But, at some point you also have to realize that an awful lot of the time that person is you.