Stressing and Stretching

Performance anxiety. The nerve of it. When I was a kid, it existed for less than a minute once I hit the stage, and then a confident calm would settle in and I would own my performance. I loved loved loved dancing and performing in equal measure.

I started dancing again last year after having taken a major hiatus from the dance floor. I felt like a real badass for revisiting one of my childhood loves. I had been clued in on a secret to living a happy life – childhood loves don’t have to die upon entrance into adulthood. On the contrary – embrace them even tighter as you cross that threshold.

Last night was the first of four dance recital performances this year. The anxiety owned me for nearly the entire piece…makes for not much fun when nerves effect technique and musicality. I couldn’t even think about what my face was doing because I was too busy trying to steady my own feet. I started thinking (while on stage) that maybe, just maybe, I’m too old to be doing such child’s play. Maybe, come next year, I’ll continue with dance rehearsals but opt out of the recital. I can watch it stress-free from a cushiony seat in the audience. Maybe. Just maybe.

And then I slept on it.

If I stop now, then yes, I’ve declared myself too old and that is exactly what I’ll become – old. Put out to pasture at the ripe old age of 32. Aging is inevitable as far as the weathering of a body is concerned, but my spirit…my spirit IS my elixir to life. And if I step to the sidelines now, I’m diluting my own potion for a life well lived.

I’ll take the stage again tonight. Maybe my pre-performance anxiety will feel a little like stress. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to feel it as a stretching instead. A stretching of self and soul.

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