A crisis of identity and exhaustion. An opportunity to recalibrate in big ways. There’s a whole list of things that I can’t quite separate into clear ideas that I can begin to sort through. It’s a list but it’s all jumbled and items relate to each other in ways that feels like an old piece of steel wool.
Here’s some of it all.
I can’t work retail for much longer. It’s supposed to be the thing that lets me make money, have benefits and have freedom from large job-related responsibilities so that I can create dances, teach, travel for residencies, etc. It doesn’t quite do all of that.
The retail job doesn’t pay all of my bills. I’m constantly seeking 2nd and 3rd ways to stay afloat financially.
The retail job doesn’t always provide benefits. I have to work a certain number of hours to qualify and for the past year, because of huge life changes, moving, etc. I haven’t clocked enough hours. This enrollment period will get me back on track for benefits but I don’t know how much longer I can do this job (even if it does have really benefits).
When I get home from work I’m exhausted. Existentially, physically, socially depleted. The spark in me that would get me to the gym, make me go outside and run, make time to meet with friends or go to shows or gallery exhibitions or seek new opportunities to play is gone.
I don’t see an end in sight.
The creative project I’m involved in right now is ultra-exciting. It’s magnificent. It’s the kind of thing that makes me realize that I’m supposed to be dancing with people all of the time, as a mentor, as a teacher, as a facilitator, as a collaborator, as an idea-pusher, as a moving human.
I have so many incredible skills. I’m an excellent writer (I don’t count this blog as an example of my writing skills because I’m just letting it all hang out here.). I make simple and elegant websites. I can create print and video materials. I’m a clear and articulate communicator. I’m great with people. I’m a motivated and charismatic teacher. I can organize anything. My visual memory is uncannily strong. I love speaking in public and can capture a groups attention with confidence and ease. I have over 25 years of experience teaching movement of all types to people of all ages and abilities. There’s something in this clump of skills that can be crafted into something entrepreneurial, socially progressive, creatively challenging AND lucrative. I’m simply overwhelmed and lacking the chi necessary to pull it all together into a living, breathing career!
I resigned from my “dream” job in 2007 because frankly, in many ways, it was terrifying and wasn’t a good fit. Geographically, institutionally, professionally, personally. I should have stuck it out. Should have would have could have. But I didn’t and I thought I’d be able to find another one. Hubris.
I feel forgotten. By the movement. By the community. I’ve lost any competitive edge I may have once had. And the biggest edge that has dulled is my ability to explain what I’m doing as a dance artist, what’s important to me as an educator, where I’m coming from and where I’m going to when I think about applying for another job in the dance field.
Because for almost four years, I’ve spent about 35 hours a week lifting and sorting very heavy things and saying, “Here’s your receipt! I hope you have a great afternoon!”
How do I find my way back? Is there a way? How do I get back to doing something that feels important and that actually allows me to live as well?
Next thought for another post: Is the feeling/conviction that my purpose in life is to be involved in bringing humans and movement together in a creative, safe and integrated space/process as a career and vocation simply a myth? Have I carried stories with me about how good I am at these things so long that I believe them without having any recent affirmation from the world that they are in fact true? Am I really supposed to work retail for the rest of my life and make the best of it? Because I made all of the decisions that have led me to this place? And away from the full-time artistic, educational path? Is it all just old stories and beliefs that keep me pining for the me that I can’t seem to find anymore?