Motivated by Fear

So it happened!

Only six weeks after graduating from my M.F.A. I helped produce a performance, create an online profile for media relations, design programs for the show, and choreographed three new pieces.

When I had originally agreed to take on this task in March I seriously thought I would not be able to accomplish these goals. Mostly, I worried  if I could pull this off financially; but I also worried about being creative enough to come up with “good” material, and the thought that I would be too tired to take on the task. (What is “good” material anyway though?).

These thoughts ran through my head as the director asked if I would be interested. But low and behold without even a moments pause I said, “Yes, I would love to!” Then my internal monologue exploded!

I didn’t have a cast

I didn’t know what dancers would be around over the summer

I didn’t know how much the project would cost

And… although I have the notebook of choreography that I have carried with me for years and years, I had only scattered ideas or one sentence bursts of inspiration

I didn’t have anything concrete

I didn’t have anything solid

I had no answers and yet…

It happened.

My dancers were simply stunning and although with most arts endeavors I took a financial hit, I realized that creating the work and being, “in it” (meaning the creative process not actually in my pieces) was more important to me – at this stage – than any of the other reservations I had. I don’t say this for sympathy, I say this because it was my genuine observation. I was so utterly inspired not only by the creation of my work but also by the other choreographers and the dancers. I thought, “This is it! This is why I chose this profession.”

I am in a precarious position right now having graduated and looking for a job that will both fulfill my artistic and financial needs; but I was completely affirmed in doing this project, just like I was when I decided that physical therapy was not going to be my path. This performance shone a light on my future that looks like, at least from where I am standing now, will be full of “Yes, I would love to’s,” without actually having a lot of answers because I am… wait for it… MOTIVATED BY FEAR! There I said it!

There’s this GREAT book, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I read it for one of my graduate course. I was recently reminded of it’s significance when I was tolling through FaceBook in an article called:

Why You Should Aim for
100 Rejections a Year

In it, the author switches the desired outcome of applying for jobs, fellowships, publications etc. Instead of hoping for acceptance the author advises to look for rejections. Essentially it applies the old adage that practice makes perfect, If you set your goal aiming for 100 rejections a year you are sure to have at least one acceptance because well geez you practice the application process A LOT!

The article was gifted to me during an incredible bout of insomnia this week probably due to feeling lost without a project. The performance had ended and I had nowhere to put my creative juices. And while reading this article it hit me, FEAR.

Fear can be this crippling, debilitating, insufferable thing. BUT it doesn’t have to be. It can be this freeing, motivating, albeit challenging experience. Add to that a motivation of rejection as opposed to acceptance and really the outcome of fear is release. Release from the expectations that we put out on ourselves and others. Release from worrying about the future and instead being in the moment. Release from the fact that really… we have no idea where we’ll end up and discovering that it doesn’t matter.

It’s in the journey, not the destination. It’s empowering. It’s enlightening. And to think that my insomnia related to fear granted me the opportunity to read this article and be reminded of an important book with good lessons to keep with me.

Look, it’s not like I’ve discovered this new zen-like way of living where nothing frightens me and I am free of fear. I’m still so unbelievably afraid but I no longer want to allow that fear to consume me. I don’t want to allow it to wash over me in a sea of depression and anxiety. Instead, I want fear to challenge me, to invoke inspiration and creativity.

So yeah… that’s where I am today. And I’d say that’s a pretty good place to be. Dancing post grad school is frightening but it sure taught me that I can do this for the long haul! The lessons are a little tougher to understand because they feel very nebulous to me but they’re there to be experienced and learned from. And you never know… with a touch of fear as motivation I’m prepared to take on Australia in a little over a week! Here we go!




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