I used to be a shy kid. People who know me now shake their heads in disbelief when I mention this. It used to be that the place I felt the most comfortable was on a stage, dancing my heart out. I was both introvert and extrovert, a chameleon of sorts, practiced at figuring out what was wanted of me and putting that face forward. From this vantage point, looking back, I’m not sure that “shy” is the right word. I think I was afraid – of not being likeable, not being loveable, not being enough. So I hid because it was better than rejection. It was my decision rather than theirs. But when I danced I was long arms, long legs, pointed feet. I was spirit incarnate. I was pure joy.
I stopped dancing.
I went through a stage where I would meet people over and over again and they wouldn’t remember me. I came to believe I was invisible. Unworthy. I got back on stage as an actor and felt seen again, felt admired, if not loved, felt deeply inadequate. I came out of my shell and realized I loved connection, I loved honesty, I loved growth and play and touching people’s hearts with my work. I also learned that women made good friends and I could open myself up without fear of being abandoned.
I danced again.
I felt admired, seen, liked and disliked for my visibility. I felt young and stupid and awkward in my skin. I stumbled in my personal life. I felt closer to and farther from myself.
I stopped dancing.
For 16 years.
Then my health deteriorated, my baby died, my heart broke open and life poured in. Dancing became a way to cope with the fear. It became a life-line, a connection to Source, a connection to myself. And still, I did not dance. Not as often as I needed to. I discovered that when I commit to dance, I commit to myself. I commit to my desire to shine. But where that desire used to be about being seen, being loved, being an image to project fantasies on to, it is now a way inward. It is a meditation, a freedom. It is oxygen for my soul.
I am no longer that chameleon, working desperately to please others. I stand firmly in the world. I write, I dance, I love. When the winds knock me over, I know I can pick myself back up. One day I might dance again in a public space but for now, I am happy getting reacquainted with the grounding force of dancing on my own.