Today’s food for thought is a writing in the space of looking outside of ourselves for validation.
Growing up, I learned that I had to keep them happy. KEEP THEM HAPPY. That was my mantra. Keep them all happy. Them = All of the authority figures (generally adults).
As I got older, I figured I should probably expand that to kids, too — friends, peers, everyone. Keep them all happy. Keep them all happy by “dancing”. Maybe as a kid, not having much control (or feeling like I did in my own life) and needing help to survive — that was what I thought I needed to do to feel safe, protected, and enough.
I danced for the adults who seemed to have control. I danced and danced and danced, hoping it’d be enough. And when I got attention, help, love, I figured I was doing something right and should dance some more. I thought dance = keep them happy = way to survive = way to be loved. Perhaps the adults around me were dancing in their own lives. I’d bet now a lot of them were.
I began to dance so much, so often, so “well” — I forgot what it was like to not dance. I don’t think I questioned, considered that I might not need to dance. That maybe I would have been okay even if I wouldn’t have danced — that I would have made it through somehow, even without dancing.
Now I’m seeing more clearly, more and more, where I’m dancing. Where I’m performing. How much I continue to do it in many aspects of my life. And, perhaps, I’m starting to see that I don’t need to. That if I want to dance and/or keep anyone happy, the only person I need to do it for is myself.
I wonder how many of us are dancing unconsciously. Or maybe consciously. How many of our kids feel like they need to dance? Maybe we’ve learned it so well it feels like it is who we are, though I’m seeing it’s something we’ve learned really, really well. Which means it can be unlearned, it can be changed.