I'll admit that this post is partially fueled by watching the US Figure Skating Championships yesterday afternoon and all of last night. But really, they just gave me the push I needed to write on a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately-- regret.
I know regret has absolutely no use for me in my life. I know that it is just negative energy I am harboring and using against myself. I know that if I just let things go, I would feel a lot better. But right now, I need to dwell on my regret a little bit. Maybe writing about it will be therapeutic...or maybe not. We'll see.
I regret not returning to my school in 2013 to continue my journey to become a professional ballet dancer.
It's not so much that I made the conscious decision to 'quit' dancing, but that summer I returned home injured (yet again), burnt out, and completely discouraged by the lack of attention I'd gotten/development I felt I hadn't made at my summer intensive. I told my mom that I wanted to take a break for the rest of the summer and see how things felt. When it came time to return to school, I didn't feel ready. I was still hurting, more mentally than physically at that time. So, I didn't go. I worked at the dance studio I grew up in, teaching pre-school classes and enjoyed "normal life" (aka a life not revolving around ballet) for a while. I would proudly announce that I wasn't attending my school anymore, that I was unhappy dancing, so I was going to turn my life around and find something that made me happier.
Slowly but surely, I began to miss it. Dance magazines that I'd long stopped paying for still found their way to my doorstep, only for me to browse through them and see multiple people I know personally in each issue. I went to see performances at my old school, and the electricity in the air was exactly the same as the countless times I'd performed. I felt how everything was the same without me there, but everything was so different at the same time. To this day, I can't go to a performance without crying because I feel a gaping hole in my life without ballet. At first, I was mad about this. I was mad that my teachers didn't teach me to be a person outside of being a dancer. I was mad that, no matter if I decided to quit ballet at age 19 or age 50, I would feel a paralyzing loss of identity. But now, I just feel sadness. I am sad that I'm missing opportunities in a life I could've had. I'm sad that I can't find any other activity, hobby, or job that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning in my life. I'm sad that a lot of people who I loved and still love dearly are moving on in life and I feel like I'm on a raft in the middle of the ocean, helpless, unable to catch up.
The ship has sailed, but a part of me still holds on to that dream. It may even be a good thing that an injury prevents me from taking dance classes at the moment, even though I crave them, because they remind me of what once was, and what could have been. They allow me to escape back to a time where I was so sure of myself and where I was going. However, the return to reality after that escape is even more painful.
There are other things I regret, like returning home from Australia early and not saying things that I really wanted to say, but the regret I feel pertaining to dance is by far the one that impacts my life the most.
As I mentioned earlier, when I first 'quit' (I keep putting that in quotation marks because I don't think I, or anyone else can really QUIT dance), I boasted about the full, happy life I would lead without dance governing my every decision. I look back on that, and I see that it was foolish. I can't say I blame myself for being that way, but I can say that I was overly optimistic about how easy finding a new passion in life would be. I thought that once I had free time, a new path would fall right into my lap and I would be on my way to success and fulfillment in another area.
But that's not how it works. Passions are sometimes once in a lifetime, and maybe my only true passion was dance, and maybe I'll feel a little less "me" without it for the rest of my life.
In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy life for what it is.
To end this post on a slightly happier note, there are plenty of quotes that help me find solace in times like these.
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -E.E.Cummings
"I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." -F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you have any thoughts or regrets you'd like to extinguish in the comments, feel free. I will be glad to hear any stories to make me feel a little less like a ball of gloom. I hope you're happy where you are, wherever that may be.