I was never going to be a performer.
I cannot recall how many times in the last four years that I have said this sentence aloud. It’s been said even more in my own head. This sentence is used to justify, placate, and reconcile for the past (almost) five years of my life. Basically since I was diagnosed with epilepsy and I lost faith in the thing I love the most: performing.
Before you tell me, I know. I know that there are many famous people who have had epilepsy. To list a few, Vincent Van Gogh, Richard Burton, Theodore Roosevelt, Prince, Neil Young, Lil Wayne. All these people were or are in the public eye and all had or have Epilepsy. I mean, Katie Hopkins manages to deal with Epilepsy and still be one of Britain’s most controversial public figures… Okay, fair, Theodore Roosevelt was the POTUS once, but Katie Hopkins seemed more surprising to me…
Here’s the thing, sometimes I wish I had fought harder to stick to what I loved. I wish I had found a way to continue pursuing a career in dance performance; but at 16 years old, faced with the magnitude of a complete life shift, I just don’t think I had it in me. I did go on to study dance at University (albeit more theory than practical), and am graduating in November with a 2:1, and yes I’ve officially been accepted to study a masters in dance research at the same university for the next year but that doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t miss the rush of landing a triple pirouette or feeling the heat of the stage lights beating down, literally melting my stage makeup as I try to hold an arabesque for eight more counts.
I miss dancing more than anything. But here’s the thing: I gave it up. For that I have no-one to blame but myself.
This isn’t a boo-hoo feel sorry for me post. I’m not being self deprecating to get views or reads or to make myself feel like a victim. I’m saying it because if I hadn’t have decided not to perform, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And where I am today… is exciting.
As I mentioned before, for the next year of my life I will be studying Dance Research, a new masters course for the University of Chichester. A course that, I hope, will allow me to find ways to provide people who, due to injury or illness, find themselves unable to cope with the rigorous training undertaken when pursuing dance as a career, with a way of dancing that will suit them and their bodies and minds.
The past five years have been a massive learning curve in how a chronic illness can effect a person’s life so deeply, and how helpful the ‘act of doing’ can be; how, just by completing something that couldn’t be done yesterday, or a week, or a month, or a year ago, can shift a whole outlook. So, while I keep telling myself ‘I was never going to be a performer’, I’ll be darned if I don’t try my hardest to make that sentence into ‘I was never going to be a performer, but someone like me could be.’
…And to be honest, I love that sentence so much more.