Dancing Without Agreeing to Perform

I invite guest bloggers to contribute their musings on what is meaningful to their lives and personal evolution as it relates to our world at large. My intention is that readers learn from encountering individual, unique experiences in order to expand their capacity for kindness, compassion, and right action in all circumstances. —LS

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How do I describe my years leading up to being 23 today? Dancing without agreeing to perform

My friends and I often say that having the knowledge that we do and being as smart as we are about what really matters in the world is a double-edged sword. It is a lot easier to know less than it is to assume the important responsibility of changing the world we are growing up in and the resistant molds that created it and shaped us. 

We are all in our early twenties and in this era, it is hard to hear yourself. Social media is constantly clamoring. People demand every bit of us online, but every bit of fake us. We’ve normalized being actresses on our own accounts. Like ghost writers for social, there’s an expectation to appear a certain way. To post certain things. Post your entire life, but somehow be certain to look perfect, even when things are not. 

It’s bullshit. Once you hear yourself say it, your voice cannot be ignored. 

But the self-awareness longing to emerge can be crippling in certain situations, especially those that involve patriarchal norms. You may discover you become uncomfortable hearing your friends say things at parties to impress others that did not used to bother you. You may find anger where you used to find humor in a familial hierarchy, or you may even discover sadness in the workplace where you used to see nothing at all because you rationalized being paid for a job.

The crippling voices serve as calls to action. Calls to become the truest form of yourself.

Realizing how I have distorted my personality to please the likings of men has been the most valuable process I have encountered. Not everyone, but the lion’s share of society raised me to protect others’ and place their needs before considering my own. Not only to protect men, but also the systems and structures they put in place to benefit themselves over women. 

The molds I was poured into at birth must now be collected and destroyed. I am determined to shatter them with grace, like a grand leap in a ballet class. 

Growing up in Los Angeles, I had a friend group that was a buffer from the world around us. We were very intelligent, but we also protected each other in a way that did not require us to face the music. It wasn’t until we were removed from our comfortably-accustomed lives that we were able to really hear ourselves, hear our own songs. 

We parted ways for different colleges across the country. These moves, we quickly realized, were a conscious choice, necessary to grow. We were longing for change. We wanted to embody meaningful lives on this earth—lives that would mean something to us, not to the systems we inherited. We wanted to learn how to inhabit our individuality.

Although I’m only 23 and do not know what I will do forever, I have been able to identify that a meaningful life is one doing something I love, surrounded by people I love, and in service to others. I want to help people in a way that encourages their unique dance and increases my love for my own, not one that demands us to move uniformly out of fear of looking bad. And I’m learning we can only help others when we’ve become successful at helping ourselves. 

In my world, we will no longer be asked and expected to fluff egos, shuffle around others’ insecurities, and twirl around people’s feelings. Though I’ve learned to do this dance flawlessly, it is not one I have ever been proud to perform! There is a real difference between being good at something and being proud to do it.

Now I ask myself: What am I dancing for?

My entire life I was told to “play the game!” “Play the game of life right, and you will get what you want.” 

It isn’t true. And it’s wrong. It doesn’t work like this. I can’t be free until I free myself in choosing to step away from the dysfunctional dance that feels wrong because it is wrong

Life is not a game. If you’re making a game out of life then you are not present to truly living, are you? 

Under all the harsh circumstances I saw growing up— jealousy, self-hate, self-harm, social media slavery, stereotypes, technological overreliance, grade-A a** holes (any gender) and massive egos (also applicable to any gender), I now invite other women to join my dance party. 

Please join me on the journey of confronting shit. Let’s stop fearing the truth. Let’s face the music regardless of how discordant it is. We can and will use our well-rehearsed dance skills to bring new movements into everyone’s lives. Moves that breathe life in our lungs rather than leave us gasping for air. Twirl around this world and improve it. 

We can rechoreograph these expectations and create dances we are proud to perform! 

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About the Author:

Hello everyone 🙂 My name is Eden, and I am so happy to share my truth. I attended private schools growing up and chose to attend business school at the University of Wisconsin Madison because it is public. I now live in New York City working as a tech marketer. After years of playing the role of an extrovert, I finally live alone, take quiet care of myself, and have never been happier. What I do now is not what I want to do forever, but I have full faith that the universe is holding me in the palm of its hand. My years have not all been easy, but they have always been blessed. I cherish my spirituality and the way it continues to develop and guide me every single day. I am an ever-changing, shape-shifting beam of light, and one day I will change the world. 

Top image credit: Andrew Rice