I received one of the most meaningful compliments at ballet yesterday, and it wasn’t even related to dance.
I’m not the greatest dancer.
I don’t stand out.
There isn’t anything significant about me.
I’m not one someone looks at and says, “I want her!”
Honestly, I never have been. In anything I’ve done.
I’m used to being seen as the person you can throw behind the scenes because if they’re there, they won’t complain. This happened a lot in theater, which really made my heart a little sad because I love acting and I know I have a lot of talent and am capable of succeeding in it but I either 1.) can’t sing or 2.) get overlooked.
I’ve come to largely accept it and just work as hard as I can at what I’m doing anyway.
To do it for myself.
Okay, so, that isn’t 100% relevant to this post, but I guess it is.
I was looking at the rehearsal schedule for Wizard of Oz when some of the other dancers and their mom’s started coming in. Soon there was a little crowd around the board as we took pictures of the pages and discussed scheduling and roles and such. One of the mom’s talked of how her daughter was devastated to have the roll she did because the other girls her age were a different role and she felt left out. We talked of the various groupings, and how one of the girls in my class is such a beautiful dancer, but one of the mom’s felt she gets robbed of better roles, even though she gets good ones. Another mom chimed in that apparently this girl just started taking dance seriously, but she is doing what she needs to do to stand out and be noticed (going to festival, taking more classes, etc.) so her chances at better roles are hopeful. In the back of my mind I’m wishing I was younger, or could afford more classes so I could be better and improve more quickly, but reality is what it is.
One of the mom’s asked the other if they were going to the Emerald City Ball the company is hosting. They talked of if it is required for board members, the complications of the Ball starting thirty minutes after the last rehearsal ends and if they would allow their younger children to go.
(Here’s where the story really begins.)
One mom said to the other, “I mean, I could go, but it’s just kind of complicated find a babysitter and all.”
I raise my hand slowly.
She looks at me and says, “That’s right! I forgot you live so close to us!” (both of us live out of town.) “Do you babysit?”
“I sure do! I love kids! I was talking to [her daughter] about how old I was and how she didn’t believe me and I told her I’ve been watching kids since I was ten, so sometimes I’m confused for younger because I get along with younger kids. She replied, ‘You could babysit me!'” and we laughed.
The other mom said,
“That’s what I love about you. These kids genuinely like you, and you like them. You’re nice to them and you can tell you enjoy it. That’s not something you see all the time.”
Speechless. All I managed was, “I just really love them. I don’t know why. I just love kids.”
Through bumbling words.
But, hear me out, this is something I really struggle with. I mean, I love kids. I love them so much, but you don’t typically see twenty-six-year-olds hanging out with fifteen, twelve, nine-year-olds because they want to. Recently I’ve even been concerned it may be seen as inappropriate, even though there’s nothing inappropriate about it. The kids I actually hang out with know that, as do their parents, (I make sure of it) but as they introduce me to their friends and I get weird looks…I just don’t want to be weird, I guess?
And then people seem to be on this “You’re not fifteen?” kick, and that can be kind of disheartening.
I’m not fifteen.
I am an adult.
I get that I look younger, thanks to my Mom who looks forty-three when she’s really pushing sixty-two, but looking fifteen isn’t as much about looks as it is maturity.
I am an adult.
Furthermore, I’m an adult whose lived a life that made my fifty-something-year-old counselor cry because she can’t imagine someone dealing with everything I have. Sure, there are people who have had harder lives, and I am very privileged in many ways that I try not to take for granted; but that doesn’t cancel out or negate all the tragedy I’ve known. Sometimes I feel like I’m making this stuff up, but then I go back in my journals where I wrote down how I felt as these things happened and I remember that it wasn’t made up, that this is my life and these events occurred. No matter how far into the recesses of my mind I try and put it all. (It’s no wonder things come up here and there that try and bring me down.) But the way I see it, what’s the point of letting that all overwhelm me? What’s the point in talking about it all the time if it does nothing? If you want to know something, ask. If you’re struggling with something and you confide in me about it, I’ll tell you my stories if it’ll help you have some hope. But why live your life like those demons are still on your back, even if some days they are? So to be seen as a teen I guess shows that I’m accomplishing that, but I don’t want to be seen as someone who lacks maturity or who “adults” (like, the real ones) question or whatever.
I get that I don’t live a typical life for someone my age, but this is my hand that life has given me, and I’m playing my cards the best I see fit. It’s unconventional. And that in itself is difficult enough.
My head tells me all sorts of things most people don’t know or realize, and moreso that they don’t take the time to notice because they don’t know how to handle me if I’m not sunshine in roses–a stark contrast to what my life has really been. So I keep it in. Even what most people who do know things know isn’t the half of it.
I also hate being told that I talk a lot, because I really don’t. Not about things that matter. The drawn out words people associate with me are mostly surface to help alleviate awkwardness or make other people more comfortable. Not for me. If I’m comfortable, I’m more quiet. Which is ironic being that this blog is so lengthy. Oh well. I wouldn’t expect people to understand which is why there isn’t a post about it. Being told by a Mom of some of the dancers, one who is sixteen and one who is ten being the ones I know, that her favorite thing about me is this one fact that most people can’t get past or understand…it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
I don’t think she’ll ever realize what her words meant to me, and I’m fairly certain she didn’t realize she was saying anything out of the ordinary rather than just stating an observation. But those few words did more good for my heart than this poor beating thing has had in months.
You see something in someone else you enjoy? Tell them.
Have a compliment in your head? Say it.
Most times what you see as common knowledge about a person is something they don’t realize in themselves or don’t hear enough. Something they forget or overlook.
These are the things I learn in ballet class.