Sorry for the title, but those who know , know my love for theatricality.
There are many who would argue that this was the "worst year ever"; with prominent celebrity deaths, numerous high profile (and not high profile but probably should have been) terrorist attacks, the end of the Obama era and the beginning of the fall of the US as we know it under president-elect Donald Trump, boats of displaced refugees, missing aboriginal women, rampant sexism and racism normalized by media, and numerous personal hardships befallen to many in my social and professional circles. There are a lot of people ready to say "fuck you, 2016" and move into the bright shiny optimism of beginning a new year! And to them I say...
Have you learned nothing?
I mean, I get it. This year was not a cake walk by any means, for myself included. For me it was an incredibly awkward and disappointing year where despite my best intentions and well laid plans, things just never quite worked out the way I wanted them to, if they didn't blow up directly in my face altogether. But to send the experiences of this year forever into the vault and gloss it over with "things will be better in 2017" would be a huge disservice to the lessons learned in a year of tested faith. And instead of focusing on all the experiences that made this year suck, I would like to impart some of the lessons I learned in this year, a year I will remember spend learning old lessons in new ways.
1. TAKE UP SPACE
I really got taken advantage of this year by a number of diffrent people and collectives. I want to make it clear that I am about 85% sure it was unintentional by the parties who wronged me (and there were more than a couple over the span of 12 months). And I know it was unintentional becasue when I finally spoke up about how I felt taken advantage of or unappreciated, said parties where shocked at my sentiment. The problem lies not in their abuse of my presence, but by my lack of setting clear boundries, make demands and my eagerness to please and be liked. You see, I have a warped idea of reciprocity; that if I do good, be likable, give what is needed, that I will be prepaid properly in accolades, praise, appreciation and support, on top of agreed monetary payment. Because I try to work hard under this mentality with my own employees, I assume everyone does. It was naive of me to think so. People, and the businesses they run, are inherently selfish. You are only as valuable to them as you are useful. It doesn't matter what personal affiliation to try to create or maintain, if you don't carve out your space and claim it as yours, it will be taken from you. The one thing I will give credit to myself for is that this is the first year where when my space was taken, I finally spoke up about it, eventually, one way or the other. I spoke out when I felt working conditions were unjust or unreasonable. I spoke out when I felt disrespected (even if I got push back on multiple occasions on that one). This year, despite hurt I felt in these situations, I took my first steps in standing my ground what what I believed was right, and what I thought I deserved. Most were receptive, a handful questioned me. Those who questioned me made me dig my heels in harder, a response I don't normally have (despite what people like to project on the "brassy loud redhead", I don't do well with conflict or confrontation.) So as awful as it felt to be neglected, unappreciated, or merely considered an after thought when I should have been more of a priority, I learned that I am valuable, and practiced standing my ground and demanding what I deserve; a practise I turly hope to fine tune in the new year.
2. IF YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE, DO IT YOURSELF
This goes slightly hand in hand with the first point. I wanted those I was spending significant amounts of time with and around to look out for my best interests, when in reality they gain nothing from my personal happiness and well being. And again, people are inately selfish, to expect reciprocity is naive and fruitless, unless it's contracted. By the time I came to this realization I started acting more selfishly, and not putting the same energy into people who weren't reciprocating my enegry, instead turning that focus on to me and my needs. Apprently those people noticed, and were quite put off by my "self-centredness"; to which I say "Well if you weren't going to do it, that means I have to." And an odd correlation I found when this happened was: those who naturally reciprocated my energies and sentiments, naturally had more respect for me and what I do. Those who didn't, didn't respect me and often undermined my emotions, experiences and decisions. Egro one can conculde, selfishness is a show of self respect. Doing more than I had to for others while neglecting my own desires and needs was a lack of self respect, not a display of generosity or good work ethic. Although I will likely still struggle with this concept and the guilt that usually befalls me when I feel I am doing "less than" for others or the collective, I am working to do more for myself, by myself. My goal is to truly be my own cheerleader and to master my own confidence, and not require the approval or encouragement from outside sources now knowing how truly fickle they are. And on that note...
3. YOU ONLY HAVE A LIMTED AMOUNT OF FUCKS. CHOOSE WHERE TO GIVE THEM WISELY
This comes from a conversation I had with Nikola Steer maybe 2 years ago now? The idea is this: You have about 100 fucks in your pocket. You can't get any more fucks, there is a cap. That means you have to do the math to portion your fucks out to the things what really need them: your health, your loved ones, your job, etc. Becuase you have a finite number of fucks to give, you have to be cautious of things and people that could covince you they are worth giving a fuck, when really your fucks are better spent elsewhere. And becasue your fucks are finite, you have to be aware of when you waste a fuck on something that doesn't deserve it. Now the good news is your fucks are transferable. You can decide to no longer give a fuck about one thing and put that fuck to something more important. But the number of fucks you're allowed to give stays the same. In short, I'm trying to give less fucks.
4. NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU ALL THE TIME, IF THEY EVEN LIKE YOU AT ALL
This works on two different levels.
Level One: Social Media
My #100DaysOfDanceChallenge taught me a LOT of things - how to be present in the moment when I dance, attempts to not overthink, how to navigate performance when you don't feel like it, musicality, the list goes on.
It also attempted to teach me not to depend in the response from social media or any other outside sources to validate your work. Now I say attempt becasue I feel like the lesson hasn't fully sunk in yet; I still VERY much care about what other think of me and my work, but I got a glimpse if what it felt like to enjoy my art because I made it and it made me feel good. By half way through the challenge, after failed attempts for audience engagement, I learned to stop looking for likes and to actually look at the work I was creating and let how it made me feel, both in its creation and its viewing, resonate. It even helped me look at other art more critcally and not like something becasue others said it was "good", forcing me to articulate why a piece did or did not impact me and why. With this in mind, I try to remember that not everything I create will be good, nor with it always be everyone's taste, but that doesn't define my worth as a person or an artist, nor should it stop me for continuing to create.
Level 2: In Real Life
I've had to be the "bad guy" more than once this year by simply putting my foot down for what I needed, wanted or deserved. It felt awful to start it, as I don't like creating conflict or facing confrontation, but nine times out of ten I felt AMAZING afterwards. Even when I severed a couple of friendships over the past 24 months, it hurt to do it in the moment but I felt shockingly weightless a couple of weeks after. If someone is not serving you with their energy, there's no need to have them like you. They are entitled to that, as you are entitled to not be in their presence.
In closing, I want to highlight some of the good/notable things that happened this year:
To be honest, currently 2017 has me scared shitless, but if I'm being honest, I think I missed that feeling. It's a feeling of possibility that is mine and mine alone. I'm dependant on certain aspects for success but I'm not bound to them. I look forward to taking the next month in particular to train my body back to a place where I'm happy with it. I'll likely be documenting my progress, if not for those who wish to see it, but so I can see it for myself. I'm making a point to be more social this year, as teaching as much as I did left me socially depleted. I'm excited to practise being selfish, in hopes I can gain my confidence and the self-possession I wish to achieve.
Oh! And I also want to write more. Apparently I'm a good writer (or so I'm told). Let's see where that goes...