Embracing My Inner Quitter
My life began in a dance studio. It was my world for fifteen years until I got shipped off to Charlston for college. Dance quickly faded from priority status as my life filled up with new friends, tough classes, and beach life. I eventually graduated and got my grown up job the following year.
I spent the next few years chugging along at a desk job, dating a great guy, and enjoying life. Adulthood wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t perfect either.
I can’t recall how I stumbled across the dance studio. I remember waking up one day and deciding to give it a shot. I strode confidently into the space and took my first dance class in seven years.
My confidence didn’t last. I was surrounded by fresh-faced 18 years olds; their energy only rivaled by a cracked-out spider monkey. I was a mid-twenties smoker who could barely keep up without hacking up a lung. I persisted though and the love of the craft quickly returned after so many years apart.
Later that year, during a severe lapse of sanity, I showed up at the studio’s company auditions and subsequently made it. I was floored. For the next two and a half years, I performed all over Charleston and starred in multiple shows put on by the studio. They have been the most exciting years of my life thus far.
However, as if I flipped a switch, something suddenly changed. I went through the motions of auditions but the excitement and commitment I had for the company just wasn’t there anymore. I figured it would come back but as the months passed, I realized that some of the luster had been lost. Eventually, my bill-paying career began sneaking in to steal the time I needed for dance. Long hours and utter exhaustion brought me to only one conclusion.
I had to quit.
The thought alone stunned me. I don’t quit things but I don’t like to half-ass my commitments either. I had to make a choice: either commit fully to the rest of the season or throw in the towel. On Thursday night, I tossed and turned, contemplating every option and pro/con list I could conjure to make the right choice. By Friday morning, I had made one of the toughest decisions of my life to date.
Drafting the email to my director caused nausea to flood my stomach. Saying goodbye to something that had fueled my life for the past three years was heartbreaking but something I knew I had to do. When I pressed Send, officially ending my dance life, my hands shook from the fear of disappointment.
I was afraid of disappointing my director. She had given me a chance. She was the reason I had first showed up to audition. I was worried she wouldn’t understand. I was worried she would regret giving me that chance.
I was afraid of disappointing my fellow dancers who had taken me in as their own. I wasn’t a trained dancer. I was older. None of that mattered to them. They made me a better dancer and a better person. Would they disappear now that I wasn’t one of them?
Finally, I was afraid of disappointing myself. Would I look back on this decision later in life and realize I’d made a mistake? Was I forsaking years that could be spent for art to churn out a salary at a 9-to-5 job? Or would I look back and find that I had done the right thing by giving my mind and body some much needed rest?