Researching a little into identity, I wanted to have a better idea of its components, what were its parts, what made up the ‘wholeness’ of this concept. And why was my whole being so challenged by this decision that I was face to face with?
I read white papers, articles, blogs, dictionary meanings, other people's ideas of what defines this word and I found no absolute or common definition to share. The word looks different depending where the light is shone from, and in the shadows the edges morph and shift. Identity appears to be about one's perspective, rather than being a concrete idea or a definitive mathematical answer. Its concept all lies in how you personally answer the single question “Who are you?”. Your own answer to this will fill the cup of what makes you ‘you’. Your thoughts, your beliefs, your attributes, your skills, your behaviours, your passions, your strengths, your weaknesses, your careers and your life roles. Psychology encapsulates that as to ‘how you define your own uniqueness’. How would you define it?
In 2019, part of my uniqueness was being challenged by a large life decision I needed to make.
To step into doing IVF and having a baby on my own, ……. Or not. Not a light decision indeed. In fact, an enormous decision with so much that would impact me, financially, career-wise, finding a partner….the rest I knew I could handle – but it seemed to rock me at my deep core, it destabilised me. Why?
You see, I am a dancer. Not just once a week attend a class, or just a shimmy in my bedroom kind of dancer. I have been a dancer since I can remember. After school I even toyed with the idea of going to Melbourne University to do dance full time. That’s how much of a dancer I was. My practical, future thinking side pushed me to follow another path…. But I came back to it years later and threw myself into its arms. Like a long lost lover, I threw myself at it, gave it my everything and it consumed me.
For 13+ years I gave it my all dancing so many nights a week, blood, sweat and tears, building my strength, flexibility, my techniques, performing, classes …making up for lost time. I had pushed myself hard to get where I was. I fought through three concussions, an extensive DVT in my leg, a heart shattering break up ….. I was bull headed to keep reaching and be the best I could be – I knew I was up against that lurking shadow called TIME ….yet more because of the love and passion I had for dance. I loved teaching, I loved performing and I loved the impact I had on people's lives through dance. I had built a dance school with my dance partner that impacted the lives of so many individuals, we had a thriving community they all loved and adored and we had worked our way to being respected on the world stage and had contracts in multiple continents. I had made it.
Dance was what I breathed, dreamt of, and was a core focus of so much of my life. It was one of my largest life roles. It was part of my uniqueness. It defined me. I was a dancer.
The shadow of time met me at 40, I was single and just as a backup, I added my name to the two year wait for IVF donor list – just as a precaution…… but I won't forget that phone call, letting me know I was next in line….I was met face to face with that life altering decision.
"What came after that moment .....was a cascade of effects I hadn’t foreseen"
What came after that moment I agreed to go meet them, was a cascade of effects I hadn’t foreseen…..with the slow realisation around the challenge of knowing that my body was going to be a vessel for a different kind of journey – and that it would take me away from an identity that had given me so much. It would take me away from the travel, the sensual connection with others, the ability to inspire others with my movement and guidance. It would lead me away from the satisfaction of reaching a strength and agility on stage that had fed me for so long and dare I even admit it, but it would lead me away from the admiring eyes of those who appreciated the years of hard work gone into building these abilities.
No matter how many times I was told ‘well it's what you have chosen’ – they could not see the enormity of the question marks, the sense of loss. The emptiness. There was grief in that decision before it had even begun, and I didn’t even know where to start to try to heal and fill the void.
How has your shifting ‘life role’ impacted you?
Have you clung with your fingertips to what once was? Have you taken a long time to transition and find what was going to fill that void?
I will follow on in other blogs to tell you a little about how that void was filled, how I gave myself the permission to let go of the hold that part of my identity had on me, and replaced the needs and wants from my dancing with another role that is building and growing, and allowing me to impact so many individuals as I had done through dance. Don’t get me wrong. I am still a dancer. I will always be a dancer. I still teach, I still inspire, I still yearn for movement on the daily. But my attachment to that life role is not debilitating.
Shifts and changes in the very core of what makes us individuals, and the power we attach to those different elements can sometimes be our own unravelling. Your own identity being made up of your own perception of who you are, what makes you ‘you’ and your uniqueness is an evolving concept.
In allowing that to shift and change with the necessary tides, the less anguish you will face through those transitions….. and you may be very pleasantly surprised with what awaits you on the other side. I certainly was.