Wonderfully You

Hey y’all. How ya doing? Hanging in there?

It’s March tomorrow, can you believe it? The month has flown by and I’ve been taking my time enjoying those quieter moments to just relax, let my brain veg for a moment. I wouldn’t exactly call it finding inner peace or stilling myself so much as just trying to figure out what is rest, what does that look like and how the heck do you keep yourself from bingeing all the Netflix shows or falling down the Instagram rabbit hole during rest.

I set up timers on my phone a few weeks ago so that I don’t spend more than an hour on social media a day. You guys. I did not realize how much time I was spending picking up my phone for a quick scroll here and there or how much time I took after work just mindlessly scrolling!

I also shut down all apps for downtime at 10:00 every night. Essentially I make sure the essentials are available (weather, clock, messages and phone), but everything else is off limits until 7:00 am. I was trying to make changes so the last thing I do at night and the first things I do in the morning have nothing to do with social media.

So far it’s been pretty helpful for me. You can try it, too, under "general settings and the tab “screen time.” Try it! I’m also attempting no-screen-time-Sunday’s…a challenge to be continued.

Social media can be great, a real tool to connect people, update on information quickly, spread a little joy even. I found myself falling into a not so good pattern. Too much time on the apps, too much time wasted, a need to check for…nothing really, and an overall dissatisfaction in general with myself. The highlight reels are so true and even I post only the good stuff. It’s what I want to put into the world, happy things. I posted a couple weeks ago about practicing patience and I realized in order to do a better job of that, to find satisfaction and gratefulness in my heart, I needed to separate myself from those apps. I’m ashamed to say it’s not been easy, but I’m definitely trying to break the habit or at least control the amount of time I’m on there and be more conscious when I am.

By setting timers to shut things down, I’m helping my brain to focus on things I want to do more, like reading. I actually just finished Misty Copeland’s book, Life in Motion, and loved it! I know, I’m late to the party, it came out in 2014, but I still found her story fascinating, her career amazing, and her words inspirational. You know what’s crazy is a year after she wrote this book she was announced as principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Dreams really do come true, baby! Truly though, read her story and you’ll see it came with a lot of work and a lot of support.

Misty’s story delved into everything about her journey including the doubts she had in her career. Doubts are like seeds, they creep into the back of your mind, plant themselves and they can grow if you don’t weed them out. Even after weeding, you might find a couple seeds are still there and they grow back. If you don’t pull those suckers out by the root, or even weed at all, those doubts can take over your mind like an overgrown backyard. It seemed that when faced with those thoughts Misty embraced them, entertained them even, and moved forward without ever actually falling prey to them because she knew her purpose on this earth was meant for more. Giving up was not an option.

The last chapter really spoke to Misty’s great understanding of herself, finding out who she was in life, in ballet, and fully immersing herself in that. I find that so inspirational, to really watch people embrace themselves. They just are who they are, for better or worse. They live and act in their truth without being in your face telling you who they are. They don’t need to because they’re just being themselves; their actions speak to that.

Also, how many times can a person use “they,” “their, “ and “they’re” in a sentence? Praise the holy Grammar Gods that my English teachers, including my mama, made dang sure I knew the difference!

Some of my favorite role models, choreographers, and characters are just like that: Gene Kelley, Scarlet O’Hara, Bob Fosse, Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman), Brenda Lee Johnson (of The Closer), and Dolly Parton. I know, it’s a random list.

I’m drawn to them because they’re fascinating to me and all they did was live their best lives, follow their path and their dreams. I’m sure each were faced with an opportunity to doubt who they were, but something told them not to. Ultimately when you know yourself you just are yourself, right? That fundamental “why” drives your actions.

I mentioned earlier my need to shut off social media (I promise this long post is all connected). In a lot of ways I felt like I kept seeing the same things online over and over again. Things that I once found so creatively inspiring became stale. Influencers using the same inflection, selling the same products, using the same presets, styles, and looks. Choreography videos of the same nature, not all, but many, and poses of the same kind. I like what I like but I began to realize that it all felt the same, nothing felt original or rather the better word for it, authentic. I started to feel stale .What was I on here for if I’m not getting inspired? Then it hit me, why the heck do I need to be on here to be inspired at all? Shouldn’t my own creativity be enough to fuel me to be, well…me?

So maybe I need to remember what I like, who I am, follow my why. If I step away from everything that’s packaged the same way, if I take a moment to delve deep into my own self, spend a little more time tapping into my own thoughts and creativity, maybe I could get a little more comfortable with who I am or at the very least, remember who that girl is before I was inundated with constant pictures of perfect. Had I forgotten what it was like to follow my gut?

Maybe I would actually take a step towards doing things that bring me real joy. Maybe I would actually feel a little less unsure of my song choices, movement choices, less lost on what to post, what to write because I’d actually be following my gut, numbers and followers be damned. Maybe I would actually spend more time working rather than “getting inspired” scrolling through the same content over again. Why couldn’t I produce the fresh content I’m craving? Be it in class, choreography, in my blog or heck, in my own life.

I suppose I’ve been on a thought train for a while about embracing oneself more, conforming less to what gets the most likes, and remembering that being yourself really is the only way to go for a fulfilled life. Following that heartbeat, following that drive the propels you forward is the only way to find a sense of self satisfaction. I know I could not live my life without dance even if means I didn’t end up on the Great White Way. I know I will always write even if it’s just a handful of people who read it or even just my mother. That’s being true to me, following what fuels me regardless of what it brings.

Misty Copeland’s book may have been about her journey to where she is today and if you’re wondering how these thoughts all intersect, remember she is in the ballet world, a world that demands perfection. Artistry is abound, your own mark and style is required to make you stand out and yet, there are rules to making it to the top, requirements that demand time, energy, and perfection. Doesn’t that sound like social media today? Be yourself, but if you want to be well received, well liked, these are the things that will get you there. A constant battle between excelling at the basics, but leave your mark as only you can. It’s the same as demonstrating a tendu or taking a picture of your coffee, the use of épaulement or the way in which you shot the pic can grab the attention of the viewer.

It’s all relative I suppose. I took away many things from Misty’s book, how her path truly lead her to where she is today, all the people that helped her along the way, and how all it took was one teacher just noticing her abilities and someone else offering her the opportunity. My goodness, it’s remarkable. At the heart of it, she had to be true in what she wanted, following that desire many times over even if it meant going against the wishes of others. Misty’s story really is a good reminder that becoming who you are is a journey and that you need only look inside to fully embrace wonderfully unique and original you. So maybe get off the apps and start following your gut more, remember who you are away from the influence of constant perfection.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time…

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.

- Judy Garland