Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Am Batman

My husband thinks it's hilarious when I assert that I am Batman. After all, I'm just a girl. I'm just a writer and a dancer - someone who makes pretty things. I don't have awesome, flying fists of fury (or do it?).

Still, I'm Batman. I have to be.

Let's go back about... 13 years. (Man, I'm old). 13 years ago there was a young, idealistic dancer who believed that she was on her way to, not only a professional dance career, but possibly lots of money, fame and fortune. Sure, money, fame and fortune are not the normal rewards of a dance career, but this dancer truly believed that she was special. She was going to be the exception.

In her first year of university, this dancer got cast in multiple "high profile" dances. In her head, this only validated her awesomeness. All her friends were so impressed! It was going to be great!

But, the rehearsal process ended up being harder than anything she'd ever undergone. Every night her body screamed, aching and seizing up horribly. She was always a little behind the other dancers, who were more experienced than she was. She couldn't seem to get anything right. Every triumph was followed by ten struggles. Every day, more rehearsals were scheduled. Three quarters of the way through the process, she injured her back. It hurt all the time, but she kept going.

She kept going because, not only did she have the ingrown sense of masochism so many dancers possess, but because she really believed in the dances she was doing. She knew they were complex and meaningful - richer than anything she'd ever been a part of. They were beautiful, and she was willing to wreck her body in order to be a part of that beauty.

But, she wasn't Batman, yet.

Eventually, performance week arrived. The young dancer gave it everything she had. She danced to the best of her ability and beyond. She probably would have given a limb, or at least a finger, for those dances. She knew that all her experience and hard work had led her to that point.

And.... everyone loved her! Her friends and family were so impressed. Finally, she'd done it! She'd lived up to her potential!

The next week, she was sitting at lunch with a few people she didn't know well. Expecting more praise, she asked them what they'd though of the show. They said it was okay for the most part, but them they started trashing her dances. Her dances. She wasn't sure whether or not they were aware that she was in those particular dances, but their comments were brutal. They were mean. They were downright evil, but, if you squinted and looked at it from a different perspective, they might have been legitimate.

It hurt. It undermined all the work, all the pain, all the strain, and even the tears. How could they? How could they casually disregard all of her effort? All her years of work to get to that point? She'd bled for their pleasure, after all!

Why dance, if she wasn't going to be respected? Why perform, if people wouldn't understand? What if she was just a sideshow, or a diversion? Wasn't she worth more than that?

But, even though she didn't always know why, she kept dancing. She kept putting herself out there, even though she knew people wouldn't always get it. She'd look like a fool sometimes. Heck, she'd be a fool sometimes.

That was the beginning. That's when I started to be Batman.

Don't bleed so that people will love you. There's not enough blood and there will never be enough people. That's not to say that you shouldn't bleed - just be a little wiser in where you spend it. People will hate you. Even worse, they'll be indifferent. And it will hurt more every time. And sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to keep going. Keep fighting.

I'm still fighting.

That's why I'm Batman. For now.

That's why all writers who keep writing, despite the growing pile of rejections, are Batman. That's why bad reviews shouldn't matter, at least, not in the break-your-spirit kind of way. There will always, always be bad reviews - some eloquently stated, others unfair. That's the cost of doing what you love. That's why you gotta be Batman. Learn what you can and move on. Write. Dance. Grow. Take the punches. Maybe you win and maybe you lose. Doesn't matter. Be Batman.

Please.

11 comments:

  1. I loved reading this! Wow, that's some amazing dedication, and I adore this line: "That's not to say that you shouldn't bleed - just be a little wiser in where you spend it." Good stuff! ;o)

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    1. Thanks Carol! Yeah, dedication... obsession... kinda the same in the end, I guess. :)

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    1. Thanks. :) The older we get, the more we learn about rejection, eh?

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  3. I love this post! It definitely connected for me, even though the sports I trained, strained, and bled for didn't generally have the added subjective judgmental aspects of dance...or of writing. "Don't bleed so that people will love you" and "be a little wiser in where you spend it" are definitely powerful pieces of advice.

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    1. There's something about putting yourself physically on the line... whether through art or sport, that makes rejection seem so personal. Maybe because of the high level of physical sacrifice required.

      Thank you for your comment!

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  4. This is a great post. Thank you for writing it.

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