Warning. I am making myself vulnerable.
Any of my most avid WordPress followers (read with heavy sarcasm) would note that my blog has been relatively inactive this semester. That is because, rejecting all my beliefs against the use of this excuse, I have been lacking inspiration. But not the kind of inspiration that I wait for the universe to happen upon me. The kind of inspiration I seek within myself. Hence, not a single movement study I have made has satisfied me. Not a single paper I write do I find particularly insightful. I find my typical thirst for knowledge to be a slightly dehydrated form of satiation.
It took one swift kick to the back of my knees and a punch in the gut. A final reminder that my so-so artistry will never be enough. That, despite the depth and care put into my work, no one will ever care as much as I do. Any viewer will inattentively skip through photos I spend hours obsessing over. Audiences will zone in and out of any highly conceptual piece of choreography I conceive. A society that will never value the kind of work I do, and therefore will devalue my entire existence. The exceptionally small numbers of people who are reading this. You are probably skimming. You have no idea how much of my soul is spilled into this writing. Even in this study attached, I spent a full 2-hour rehearsal not paying attention and obsessing over the fact that, in the recording of this, I forgot to do one minute movement. The existential hyperawareness that my good enough is not good enough for my peers, my instructors, the world around me, or for myself, flooded out of me with one tiny straw that broke my moose’s back. The moose had been carrying straws since I entered this university in August of 2015, and finally, he could not go on any longer, because of one small straw. One may call this a hero’s abyss. But of course, just as no one will ever care as deeply about my work as myself, no one will ever truly feel the weight of my own straws as much as they will feel his, hers, or their own.
It took crawling through the sludge for a few days. For having one of the worst nights of my life while friends had one of the best nights of their lives. For behaving manically and projecting my insecurities and fears onto friends in ways that were unfair to them. It took incoherent, violent sobbing that lulled me to sleep night after night for weeks. For waking up to sloppy rooms and knocked over wine glasses beside my bed, and not giving a damn, to finally see a shed of light. I needed a small achievement from an external force that was not myself to tug me from the pit I’d been clawing away at for months now. As much as people say your own happiness must come from within, sometimes, you dig yourself in so deep within that you build a trench around yourself.
This brings me to this wonderfully sarcastic yet, for once, inspired piece of composition homework for Susan Hadley’s Composition II class. Ironically, from its origins, I took the most stress from it. I’ve found this class has put my bullheaded, do-it-my-way-or-the-highway attitude, into a choreographic box, and my stubborn nature refused to hear the other side of it. When Susan added the layer of asking us to set our work to music and somehow take these 4 movements that I’d made (and hated with a particular fervor) into a 1:30 minute study, I thought I’d finally had enough of this course. “Until one find morning when…” Hadley began playing different music and told us to try things out. She played something that reminded me of Charlie Brown Christmas, and I’ve always sort of related to Charlie’s happy yet sad, mildly unfortunate yet still privileged life. Then, she played text, and I was overcome with joy. Text resonates with me in a way that music resonates for most people. Finally, the doors of Sullivant Hall flung open and the possibilities presented to me by this study were glowing before me. This wasn’t restrictive at all. I laid a piece of text that I found particularly compelling from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried over the theme song to Charlie Brown Christmas, and my conceptual wings spread. I finally created with thought, which I haven’t done since Daniel Roberts’ Composition 1 class last semester.
The reaction I got on Monday performing this was exactly what my psyche needed. For the first time in months I saw the smiling, astonished, confused, intellectually satiated audience that I so desire from my work always. The best part is, I politely declined to do the assignment as mandated. The study was meant to half two halves, one being “opposite” from the other, which I simply didn’t do. But finally, I made something I could take pride in. A little hook was sent down to me in my trench and pulled me up an inch so I could reach that one rock that would help lever me out. For the first time, instead of thinking “they’re right” to all of the rejection I’ve faced, I was able to think “screw them, I’m better than that” with at least halfhearted confidence (maybe not full, but half hearted is better than none).
Let it be known this isn’t black and white. I am still far from okay, far from settled with myself, and far from recovered from these straws. And my issues range far wider than just my agsty artistic frustrations. I’m still crawling. But for the first time in months, I see some light. I am still scared. I am still so goddamn scared. My desire for validation and my need to impact the world overrides every decision I make, and whatever I do is never good enough for myself. But I finally see some light, and that light may be just enough hope to at least pull me out of the pit someday.