Have you ever felt like you have done something for so long that it becomes your definition? That without this one thing, what are you? I feel like I am living through this right now. I don’t have any memories of my life before I was doing this thing and until now it was the biggest part of my life, so what do I do now it’s gone? Who am I now I don’t have the thing that I was known for? Am I still me without ballet?
Quitting ballet had been something I had been contemplating for a bit before I actually quit but once it came down to saying it out loud it didn’t feel like my decision at all. With my back pain not giving much hope to easing down and my foot forever being in a moon boot I felt as if the universe had decided that enough was enough and it was time to find a new path in life.
The hardest part is that even though you’ve stopped dancing it doesn’t mean the rest of the world has as well and even though I have “left” it all behind it’s still with me wherever I go. With a lot of my friends either professionally dancing or still in strong pursuit of their dream, to my mum owning a dance shop and my Instagram and Facebook feeds being full of dance related stuff. I can’t seem to escape this world that I no longer feel a part of. Then comes the task of explaining to everyone why you stopped. Trying to put into words so they understand even though it’s still your favourite thing to do, continuing to try for a career just wasn’t an option anymore. When they say “but you loved it so much” or “you’ve done it for so long how can you just give it away” and you know they will never understand that when I first started dancing it was the thing I went to when I wanted to escape from the world and my stresses and when you start pursuing it as a career it becomes the thing that creates your stresses and all of a sudden you don’t have an outlet or escape from your problems. You’re in the studio 6 days a week all day and you’re constantly picking yourself apart. They don’t see how the negative aspects of ballet start taking a toll and that you’ve realised not many other people live in such a negative headspace all the time but even with the worst days or weeks there is always one small moment that made it all worthwhile and though they came few and far between it’s the only thing that gave me hope and drive to hold on for as long as I did.
It takes a lot of passion and determination and that is something that I admire so much in other people so now I feel as if I have lost the layer of myself that made me most proud. Of course, there are many other layers to make me, well, me but to think that the most interesting part of me is now in the past has me feeling very dejected from myself. I suppose this is what I should feel excited about, finding something else that makes me as happy and as proud as what ballet did and although there will be a lot of trial and errors what I have learnt over time is that nothing goes away until it’s taught us what we need to know. Despite being scared shitless of what is to come in the next few years, if I take a step back and pretend to not think about all the things I have mentioned above I might see a fresh start with an endless amount of opportunities but for now I will accept this feeling of emptiness for I know that once it has past this it’ll be a part of myself to be proud of.