One of my dearest interweb-turned-real-life friends recently retired from her career as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. We were FaceTiming one night, her eyes lit by the faint glow of a porch light somewhere in North Carolina, when I asked how she was feeling about her “new life” as a mother and student of interior design. Her answer was simple and has stuck, taffy-pulling my mind ever since:
“I’m a beginner again.”
Her voice sounded equal parts nervous and optimistic, refreshed by the concept of starting over. She went on to point out the fact that as professional ballet dancers, we have trained our entire lives to (never quite) master one very specific skill. Since adolescence, our focus has been sole: dance. Starting a career at the age of 18 creates a certain sense of comfort, if not accomplishment, in that field. Leaving the studio and stage to forge a new path, well that is something else entirely.
It’s been quite a while, my friend pointed out, since she felt this brand new. She had not set out to learn a the foundation of a completely new trade in nearly two decades. Yes, it’s scary to suddenly feel so unsure of your footing. But guess what? It’s also exhilarating to not always know.
I’m finding all of this to be so very true as I navigate the murky (to me) waters of writing, illustrating, formatting, publishing, and distributing a book. This completely new set of skills that call upon another side of my creativity. Suddenly all of those years spent training expertise into expert seem much further away.
Was I really a beginner at ballet once, learning french vocabulary and using stories to memorize the order of exercises at the barre?
So we do what dancers do. I apply what a life on stage has given me here, behind the curtain, as I give voice to the girl in the wings. Determination, patience, and flexibility. Try, learn, begin again. Let’s publish a book.
“the silhouette inside” is coming so soon! stay tuned, friends.