When you’re young, especially--or at least that’s my impression, I haven’t ever not been young after all!--figuring out who you are can be a big thing. I’ve written before specifically about my experience realizing I’m gay, but beyond that, I’ve found my perception of myself has changed in a lot of ways.
My first few years of high school, I knew: I was a dancer, and I was always going to be a dancer. Anything else seemed unthinkable. I didn’t constantly feel confident in this, but when I did feel doubt, it felt awful and wrong and I didn’t want to consider that I could stop wanting to dance. This started to fade somewhat over my junior year, and then early in my senior year, I went on an overnight college visit, and it felt as if everything had changed. I was in a totally new environment, much of my time was spent on things totally unrelated to dance, and I had an amazing time. It made me realize I don’t want to be a dancer first and a person second. While that’s much healthier than my earlier perspective, it scared me at first. For years, I refused to consider I could be anything but a dancer, and now, while I was no longer confining myself to one thing I could be, the certainty I’d previously had was gone.
This story doesn’t end the way you might think it does. I haven’t stopped dancing--in fact, I’m taking a gap year to continue dancing with my current company before I go to college (the same college I mentioned earlier). I still spend just as much time dancing as I have in the past, and I still love it, and want to continue doing it. But I know it’s not the only thing I love to do, or the only career I could have, or most importantly, who I am as a person. I feel secure that if and when I do stop dancing, I won’t lose my identity.
Who you are, or who you think you are, can change, and that’s scary. Sometimes I wonder if who I am now is anything like who I’ll be in, say, five. But I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. I hope some of you can find something that may help you in my experiences.