The Myth of Security

When you are a dancer or an actor, people always ask you some variation of the question- “Why aren’t you on Broadway?” And I would reply with some variation of the answer- “I love the work I have here.” And while that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth.

The truth is, I was too scared to go for it. I went for the “safe” life. A 9-to-5 job. A husband whose job had good benefits. A house in the suburbs. Keeping my passion as a side job, but not living in it. When I spell it out like that, it sounds benign, and incredibly uninteresting.

In growing up, there was a definite anxiety in my house around money and security. My father worked in manufacturing, and was often laid off. I don’t remember feeling like we were living in poverty. But, I do remember knowing that money, or more specifically a lack thereof, was a very scary thing, and my life’s goal should be to be in a place where that wasn’t a concern.

My parents never said any of those things specifically, out loud, to me. But, the conversations about money, bills, vacations, college were full of volatile emotion, stress and worry. Therefore, what I heard was that security was the most important thing. Otherwise, my life would be one of stress and worry. I took those messages to heart, and did it without any real conscious thought. I let this paradigm from my childhood shape the decisions I made for my adult life.

I never auditioned for any opportunities in New York, because I told myself the investment wasn’t worth the risk. That being a starving artist was not the way to go. I had some friends who moved to New York, took class, auditioned and waitressed. My story was that I didn’t want that, that I’d rather be regularly involved in my industry, than just trying to be. And, while that was likely true, the deepest truth was that I was way too afraid to make that kind of commitment to myself.

I modeled briefly after college, but regularly turned down gigs because they conflicted with my day job. Again, I would tell myself that the opportunity was not worth the risk. I reminded myself that the dance and modeling industries were a young woman’s game, and I was already 22. I should be focusing on what I need, “down the road”, not what I wanted right now.

So, I settled. I pursued my passions on the side, as weekend and evening jobs. I got married to man with a “good job” with the salary and benefits to go with it. I settled into my secure life, that my childhood experiences told me would make me happy. But I found I still had a life of stress and worry. I had a life full of fear. But now, it was of losing that security. Of making a decision that would jeopardize it, break me or lead to more fear.

That’s the crazy thing about fear- it just breeds more fear. It never brings answers, it only brings more anxiety.

I constantly felt pressure to create more security. To become indispensable at work (at a job that made me even more anxious and unhappy), to save more money for a rainy day, to spend less money on everyday things, to plan well into the future- all to assure my security. But, the constant pressure and anxiety began to wear on me physically, not just mentally. Which led me to Pilates to heal my body. Pilates led me to an undeniable truth- what I was doing was not working. If I continued down the same path, I would continue to get the same results. So, I left my job to pursue Pilates, as well as dance, full-time.

But, I still moved forward with security in mind. I phased myself out of my office job, by working there still a few days a week, and working from home on other days. Maybe this was smart, as I still had a paycheck. But honestly, it just created more pressure for myself. I was trying to do the same amount of work in less time. I worried about what my boss and coworkers thought about the arrangement. I became bitter and angry when other people were given what I considered “my” assignments. With my desire for security, even as I took a risk, I found another way to create more stress and pain.

When I finally moved to just teaching full-time, and performing as well, I had the same fears I had always had. But, I also had a better balance of those fears with joy and fun. More opportunities came my way to work on projects that excited me.

And something else happened. I realized who I was, deep down. And I realized what I really wanted from my life- which was to NOT live in fear. More than anything else, I wanted to live in freedom. I wanted to trust that each decision I made was carrying me in the right direction. That even if things didn’t work out exactly as expected, I’d be one step deeper into freedom, lightness, and joy than I was before.

Since I said that was what I wanted, of course, the Universe decide to test my commitment to that ideal. I got divorced. I accepted what looked like a dream job, that turned out to be a nightmare. And there I was, living in a new city, alone, jobless and paying bills out of my savings account. My deepest fears, realized.

What came to me at that dark time was a realization that I was incredibly skilled. And, my skills in teaching dance and Pilates were good anywhere. I did not have to wait for someone to create a place for me. I could hustle my butt off and make a new life. So, I did. I could make my own. I had just faced my deepest fears, and I came out the other side. Not unscathed, but stronger, wiser, and free.

And, not only did I make a new life, I made a new company and new career with CABARRET. I get to teach, create, perform and travel, all as work! It’s entirely the essence of me. It’s still scary. It’s still hard. But there is so much joy.

Now, I’m at another crossroads of security and risk. This new life, that I have courageously created for myself, has brought me beautiful new opportunities. But to accept some of them, I need to risk some things- classes I’ve built, money I’ve saved, time for fun. And again, I remind myself, all I want from these decisions is to move deeper into freedom. It doesn’t need to be right. It doesn’t need to perfect. It just needs to be freeing. While the fear is there, and it will always be there, focusing on the fear only gives me more fear.

Security is a myth. Because, like money, chocolate and wine, there is just never enough. It’s vicious cycle- you get the security you were seeking, but then you need more, just to secure your security.

Focusing on the freedom- that’s what we must do.

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