Fight or Flight ?
I’m sitting in the car, on my way back to New York after a much needed mental break, looking for the best way to get back into the swing of things.
OK...so this trip wasn’t really about me. It was my sister’s college graduation this past weekend so technically that’s the reason I came to visit my parents in North Carolina.
But lately, I’ve been needing every excuse to escape from adulting.
Don’t get me wrong, there is actually NOTHING in my life worth complaining about. Aside from the hardships that any regular person can face, I am still able to do the things I’m passionate about (yes, dance!) with people I love, and that is a great blessing. However, being around my parents just reminds me of a simpler time, and allows me to take a temporary backseat to this ride we call life. I can let them cook, take me where they want, make decisions for me (which is a right I seldom relinquish willingly), and do literally any and EVERYTHING we’re charged with doing as “properly functioning human beings” that just seems to become more and more daunting for us as we get older. For me, the responsibility of being and adult has become increasingly overwhelming in the last few months, especially when all I want to do is dance..and eat great food! I personally don’t think that’s too much to ask for..
The Side effects of Aging
So society tells you:
“Go to school, get a job, start a family, die” presumably in that order.
Here’s what they don’t tell you:
- You can die at any moment.
I know this seems like common sense, but remember, common sense is in fact un-common. Many people don’t, and actually refuse to, think about their last day on this earth. They assume that it’s somewhere far off in the distance; something they don’t have to think about until their liver fails, or their hip gives out. The truth is it can happen at any given time, and looking at it in this way, our perspective on life begins to change and priorities start take on a different meaning. Waiting until retirement to live your life suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing, does it? Ask yourself: What goals do you want to achieve? What dreams do you have? And are these things important enough to you that you would take the precious time you may or may not have to do it? This thought is something I personally struggle with myself, and try to keep in the forefront of my mind when I’m faced with tough decisions.
2. Children means your life is over.
Maybe I’m being dramatic, but you get what I mean. I’m referring, of course, to life as you now know it being over. The introduction of a child means there needs to be someone to care for it. Babies are literally helpless and can only grow properly when the required attention is given to them. Is that to say that you can’t still have a life while being a parent? No, of course not. You can totally still pursue dreams and continue with your regularly scheduled programming with a baby. The difference is now, well, there’s a baby. A baby that is an extension of you. A tiny person that is counting on you to be it’s EVERYTHING in order for it to survive. Is this something you’re willing to go through? Is having children worth putting your own life on hold for? Are your passions (depending on what they are) worth exposing your baby to unorthodox conditions? And this is assuming you have a partner to aide you..what if you don’t? Children are still far off in the future for me, but it’s a thought that has definitely crossed my mind, and maybe, is something I should consider really assessing. Tough stuff, #AmIrite?
3. Your job is different from your career
Here we go again with the common sense thing right? Yea, no…People actually think having a job is the same as having a career. I’m actually a little baffled by this one, still.
The mere fact that some can’t tell the difference makes me sort of sad, and only further proves my point: Social norms (remember these are actually entirely made up by our species) usually take precedent in how people chose to live their lives, yet they think they are striving for greater and often push their belief systems on others. Sort of ironic huh?
It usually plays out just how I mentioned earlier: they pick a job, work themselves stupid, hopefully retire at 65, and then…yep you guessed it, they die. And God forbid you chose to live a little differently! Those people you see in movies slumped over asleep at their desks? Yea, those are examples of people working JOBS. Nine times out of ten, someone chooses to go to a job they absolutely hate everyday because they have bills to pay; maybe a family to care for. But those passion filled people that willingly stay up working nights to see a dream realized? These people are striving for real careers. Long life passions and dreams that they’d do for free if they could. This is the very stuff that purposeful lives are made of. Of course, this is not something anyone really prepares you for. In fact the biggest problem likely is…
4. No one actually tells you what to do.
And well, they really shouldn’t. It’s your life and what you choose to do with it is up to you. However, it’s no mystery that there are some very deep, gaping holes in our education system, and that people need help just being human. But then again, our society as a whole has a lot to work on. Trump administration aside, it is clear that there is no real program that exists to teach someone to be a person. Hell, they don’t even show you how to open up a bank account, or how to interview properly in school (shout out to the AOF at Middletown High for helping a sistah out!). So the question begs, how does someone with very little tools fight for a quality of life that doesn’t include a job they despise but have out of necessity, and bring a family into this gloomy picture without unknowingly perpetuating this lifestyle, ALL before he/she has run out of time? SHIT, how can someone with ALL of the tools do this?
As artists, we are forever defending ourselves against a societal “norm” that believes in a more clean cut way of life. The kind of life with the type of rules that no one in their “right mind” decides to break. We live in a constant external battle, but what of the internal wars that no one is privy to? The struggle to have to choose between:
dance class and a meal?
going to work and going to rehearsal?
time perfecting your craft and time spent with loved ones?
starting a 401K and starting your own business?
taking a full time position and taking a leap of faith?
To be clear, I don’t have any of these answers. In fact, the exhaustion from asking myself these very questions is what led to the comatose weekend I had at my parents’. I’ve personally been fighting for my craft for about 7 years now, and am still in the trenches. There’s a hope and a faith that I believe keeps me going, but I’m no stranger to thoughts of giving up. I’ve quit dance at least 30 times in my own head, but five seconds into a thought of being a “regular” person turns my stomach just a little and I immediately snap out of it, grab my bag, and head back to the front line. Maybe the uncertainty of each day is part of what makes it exciting, or maybe I’m just crazy. Either way, I can’t see myself taking off and abandoning the hopes and dreams I have for my future. I suspect that if I’ve been fighting this long, I’ll continue to do so until I figure it out. What’s another few years, right?
And what about you? Will you flee? Or will you stay and fight?
Lol hey…I just move.