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Because It's What I Love To Do

Adult ballet. What a crazy journey. What a wonderful, and soulfully crazy, journey!

It’s funny. When I started ballet, it was to drag my arse out of the big black murky hole of depression. Today, I still do ballet to keep that depression away. But I have also realised, while travelling my ballet journey, that ballet is actually like the piece of my soul’s puzzle that was missing until now.

At the risk of going all Jerry Maguire on you, it completes me.

Ballet completes me.

Those things are the reasons I do ballet now. And they are the reason I have so much drive to progress — because I want to see how much more freedom this divine dance can bring me.

But is this dream a difficult one to understand?

For a long time, not many people in my real life knew what I was doing. It was only my blogging friends who knew about my crazy ballet journey — and they reciprocated it with excited glee because they too were travelling the adult ballet journey. They got me. They got and revelled in the craziness.

Then over time, slowly, more and more people in my real life discovered what I was doing. Mostly via word of mouth or facebook. And I usually either got open enthusiasm or silence. And I appreciate both of those responses. I was good with that.

But I have started to run across a different response to my journey recently. I always knew there would be people out there who thought what I was doing was silly, or stupid, or ridiculous and that not everyone has the capacity or desire to understand WHY I would bother with such out there aspirations. But I hadn’t physically faced these people until recently.

And I didn’t like it when I was.

It was the lingering, prodding questions that they didn’t really want answers for and the vague look on their faces as I tried to share my point of view. And the lack of ability to see it positively.

These questions are going to come up more and more as ballet is becoming a bigger part of my life. This is why I have been thinking about it more.

I would have thought that it was pretty easy to understand someone taking up an activity to keep depression away. But it doesn’t seem to be easy for everyone. Which confused me at first…

And that’s where we come back to our crazy adult ballet journey.

If I had taken up tennis to beat depression, no-one would bat an eyelid. Hell, I could even be travelling to amateur tennis comps all over the world as part of my journey and people would just cheer me on because they think: ‘Tennis, oh yeah, that’s a normal sport and a good fitness hobby to take up, that makes sense’.

But you take up ballet, and OMG, you’re a bit different. And if we go the whole hog and take up ballet, on our own, in the bush — all of a sudden it’s like, HOLD THE PHONE! There must be some connection that’s come loose in your brain!

It’s ballet. That’s what it is. That’s what makes me so damn bizarro! I do ballet (on-my-own-in-the-bush).

During these occurrences lately, I was finding it frustrating to feel like I was taking on other people’s judgement of me. Like I SHOULD take it on. It’s not how I consciously think, but I found myself in the moment just feeling that way. Like I owed these people an explanation as to why I do what I do. Like it was my job to help them understand it.

Ugh. No. Not my job. Not my problem.

So now, I have arrived at the conclusion, that the next time someone like this asks me why I am on my ballet journey I am going to answer: “Because it’s what I want do.”

And if they persist, I will add:

“And because if, in my old age, when I have arrived at that place where I am recliner-bound and have cycled back around to needing to urinate into nappies, and eat a soft-food-only diet, I sit there whiling away the hours between custard breakfast and mashed pee lunch, and it dawns on me that I didn’t do what I wanted to do, that I lived an entire life, without pursuing what I love … I will want to hang myself.  But I’ll be too fucking old and too sore to tie the knot, so I’ll just sit there in my rotting, stenching, life-half-lived misery. And I DO NOT WANT that.”

Okay, okay, so I might not say exactly that. But I will be thinking it. 😉

I know that taking adult ballet classes is different to my version, and I think the extra parts of my version (bush, own, flying for lesson) are what make it seem even more bizarre to people. But I am interested to hear if any of you, my gorgeous friends and readers, run into these sorts of negative attitudes about your dancing? If so, how did you handle it?

To end, some pics from ballet this week…

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14 thoughts on “Because It's What I Love To Do”

  1. I’ve had the whole ‘It’s too hard, you’re too old, you’re time has passed, that’s for kids’ thing come at me. I just said that I was sorry it’s too hard for them, but it’s what I want to do with my life and I’m going to fight to do it. I didn’t realise how hard I’d have to fight, but I am, and I will because I love it. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Sammy. I’m sorry you’ve faced this too, but your response is a wonderful one. These sorts of comments are totally a projection of what people think of themselves. Way to go! And I’m so happy that you’re fighting for it. 🙂

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  2. This definitely touches on a nerve for me… I am 31 and I started adult ballet for the first time 6 months ago. All this time, I have been keeping my new passion all but a secret, only telling a precious few closest to me. I haven’t said a word about it on Facebook, I haven’t even told my cousin who is like a sister to me for fear that she would not understand. It’s so odd that this thing that has sparked a light inside of me, that has become “the piece of my soul puzzle that was missing until now” as you so beautifully put, is also tangled with embarrassment. Reading your post makes me want to just say “fuck it!” and wave my ballet-freak flag high! 😉 Life is too damn short to worry about what other people think. Thank you for reminding me of this! By the way, have you seen Kathryn Morgan’s ballet & beauty vlog on YouTube?! She’s an ex NYC Ballet Co. dancer (she had to leave ballet for a few years due to a serious hypothyroid condition) but she is fighting her way back and among other things, she is creating ballet classes on YouTube! When I found her, I thought of you…

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    1. Hi Angie! That’s spot on — that what we love the most is also embarrassing. So strange! I hope you find a comfortable place to announce your ballet journey with people soon. But regardless, at least we are living it! 🙂

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  3. “Because it’s what I want to do” is a great answer! Good for you for not letting the naysayers get you down. You are totally correct about the observation that if it was something like tennis people would have a completely different attitude. And that double standard sucks! I really admire your courage in standing up to people in “real life” about ballet , I still remain in the real life ballet closet.

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  4. Beautiful pictures.

    While often we cannot choose our work, in all other things should we not be doing as much as we can of what we WANT to do?!

    When I began figure skating at 48, people really did think I was insane. Oddly, I became pretty darn good at it, considering I’d never skated as a child. Next came horsebackriding, at that time even older. More “are you crazy”? Along with a return to some form of ballet via Little Miss Competition studio.

    Actually, I agree that these activities are probably better suited to younger people. Was I a “real” skater. No, of course not. Will I be a dressage rider for real? Unlikely. And a “dancer” I am certainly not.

    I love these things, and no one is going to stop me doing them. Or perhaps, more accurately, my “version” of them. Which does not make them any less important or soul-supporting. Those who claim my version can’t mean anything because it isn’t, say, Misty Copeland or Steffen Peters are completely expressing that sport/activity double standard, along with age prejudice!

    You go girl! Love you, and really enjoyed your entry. x

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    1. I think your awesome for starting figure skating at 48. Amazing! I wouldn’t “you can’t do x, y or z because of your age”, I just think you’re an incredible woman! And inspirational. Your comment is spot on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  5. You are too old. You are too big. You will never be a dancer (Thanks for telling me, I would not have found out on my own!) You are spending too much money on dance classes (Sure, it is more reasonable to spend money on a big shiny Mercedes and high-heeled shoes.)
    In Spain, they say: Porque el cuerpo me lo pide. Because my body is asking for it. I might add: my soul, too.
    I do not need a car. I do not need to travel to Hawaii (o.k., Hawaii might be interesting…). I do not need a big house. I need books, dance and the flowers on my balcony. Other people might need other things. A friend of mine likes to paint. I think his paintings are, well, ugly. But he is happy when he is painting, so who am I to question or criticize?

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    1. That’s right! There can be so much negativity and so much judgement. Some people just don’t like it when you don’t fit into their box.

      Love that Spanish saying! Thank you. 🙂

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  6. When I’ve told other adults that I take ballet, I have been pleasantly surprised that others have said things like, “Cool”, “I always wanted to try that” and “You know, I’ve been thinking about going back into ballet myself.” However, I have kept my study of pointe under wraps from most people. The few whom I have told (usually under duress — hahaha) have been encouraging. I figure: some people train for triathlons or take up scuba (or sky-) diving past the age of 40 so why should I be embarrassed? I once saw a video about a 60+ year-old grandmother who took up water skiing (or was it surfing) and became skilled enough to teach others!

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    1. I’m so glad you’ve received supportive feedback. A lot of mine has been positive too, and I am blown away by some of the positive support I get. Maybe in a while you will be able to share that you do point work too? But there is an extra “what?!?!” factor you’re going to get when you mention that, isn’t there. I bet most people will be amazed by it too! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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