Like many women, I grew up taking dance classes. I loved everything about it, from the tutus to the tights to the stern women who shouted at me in French. Yet somewhere, something went wrong: I did not become a ballerina.
How did this happen?
One minute I was in a grand plié, the next I was studying for eight years in graduate school, and the next minute I found myself dusting some old bones because I’m now an archaeologist. My soul is mid-grand jeté, but my body is dusting piles of old bones. I dust so many bones. How did I get here and where is my leotard?
When I was a young girl, I wanted to grow up to be lean and elegant and tossed through the air by men. Several hours a week I’d go to class and look at myself in a mirror while pointing my little feet, and for what? To grow up and become a skilled excavator? I just don’t get it. Why not me?
People will say that “hobbies don’t always transfer to adulthood” or “very few people become ballerinas” or “how did you just figure this out?” but I don’t think it adds up! My best friend Christie grew up playing sports and now she’s a soccer coach. My neighbor Jack grew up playing piano and now he’s a musician. My sister Cammie grew up doing crafts and now she’s unemployed. So where did I go wrong? Did the Ballet Express simply miss my stop?
Thousands of people have achieved the American Dream, so why couldn’t I become a professional ballerina like every other little girl? Just because I stop taking dance classes when I’m 16, go to college for anthropology, and intern in a lab for 18 months post-graduation means that someday I wake up and find that I’m holding a big bone instead of a big barre? Well, no thank you!
Sometimes I feel like Odette from the ballet Swan Lake and someone’s placed a curse upon me. Or Giselle from ballet Giselle and I’m dying of a broken heart. Or a big undiscovered bone beneath the earth that will never be discovered. I mean, mostly just the first two but the last one just reminded me my lunch break is over and I need to get back to work. Shit!
Part of being an adult is looking around and taking stock, even if it means having the painful realization that for some fucked up reasons you can’t possibly understand, you aren’t a ballerina. It sounds literally insane to admit, but I’m brave enough to do it.
I’m not a ballerina. This is my life. Now someone pass me a dusty shovel.