A month later and I’m still very much stuck on choice because when it occurs to me that I’ve made a choice, it still hits me as a new experience which only serves to prove how little choice-making I was participating in before. Before what specifically? I’m not sure. Just before. I’ve been doing some self-analysis however to try and figure out where this came from because it certainly wasn’t out of nowhere. Here’s my current working theory:
I think it has a lot to do with the extreme autonomy I’ve been demanding for myself in settings outside of dance. Autonomy can be defined a lot of different ways with a more narrow or broad sense of the word in mind, but to me it just seems like a concept that keeps on swelling and expanding to cover every part of my life. I don’t think I was aware of much I let my body belong to other people. I used to rent out different aspects of myself to others and then be surprised when the partitioned parts of me didn’t come together to feel like a home.
The primary way in which I did this was my gender expression or self-presentation. I used to dress “for myself” (and that was true) but one unintended consequence of doing this was that it often helped introduce my body into the public domain where it was up for analysis or comment. To be clear these are not objectively my politics. I do not believe that dressing in ANY way implies anything about the “availability” of one’s body. However although I advocate this, I cannot say it’s been my lived reality. I now feel uncomfortably aware of when I draw attention to myself. This is not because I am more ashamed of my body or more shy/introverted than I was previously, but because any confusion surrounding who plays the role of owner, operator, and influencer regarding this body of mine now makes me uneasy. This allowed grey area between what is mine and what is theirs is something I actively avoid.
Another way I was living unautonomously was the frequency with which I allotted my time and energy out to those people undeserving of it. I gave my love and emotional investment to individuals incapable or unwilling to reciprocate appropriately. I exist in a country and a class and a community where I am in a privileged position. I am privileged in many many ways but the fact that I can choose who is on the receiving end is something that I disrespectfully took for granted. I am getting better and better all the time about only surrounding myself with people whose energies better me in some way.
All of this boils back down to treating my body in a way that reiterates it’s role in my life as not only my tool as an artistic athlete but the thing that houses my soul as a creator. I’m excited to see the ways the self-defining continue to manifest in my ability to feel at home in my body whilst dancing.