(Don’t) Give Up
I often write as if I believe in myself, as if I believe that what I’m doing in the world right now makes some kind of sense.
It was really, really hard when I came back to dancing after my surgery last summer. Day after day, I would literally look at myself in the mirror and be unable to stop the words, “You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re out of your mind,” from coming out of my mouth. I literally said to myself, out loud, over and over, “Give up. Give up, give up, give up.”
For a couple of months my interior life was one long bout of who do you think you are? I turned on that wild insecurity the only weapon I had: stubbornness.
My Dad was stubborn. My Mom is stubborn. My sister, holy cow, is she ever stubborn. In my family, we mostly live a long time, and the whole time we vex the world with stubbornness.
Every day I would wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
And every day, the answer was pretty much a shrug, the gritting of my teeth, and the decision to do it anyway.
I write this to remind myself: not very long ago, less than six months ago, I was back to thinking that my singular aspiration in life was completely mad and that I should possibly think about going back for a master’s in something boring but profitable.
Thank G-d for stubbornness. I can’t take any credit for that. It appears to be entirely temperamental. Something in my nature is deeply, deeply perverse. If you tell me I can’t, I’m not capable, I’ll never be capable … well, really, there’s no better way to get me to prove to you that I can.
Apparently it works pretty well when I tell myself that, too.
I mentioned my recent successes in a facebag group made up of my dance peeps (mostly because several of them were involved in creating those successes and I wanted to thank them), and one of them described those successess as “much deserved.”
That meant the world to me, because there’ s still something inside me that says, now and then (especially when I have a not-so-great class), You’re crazy. You’re out of your mind. You have no right to do any of this.
And today I realized that sheer cussedness isn’t the only weapon in my arsenal anymore. Now I can wave my contracts and my gigs and the fact that I somehow get paid actual money to actually dance??? at that voice like a banner and say to it, STFU, Imposter Syndrome. I’ve got work to do.