Friday, April 26, 2013

Realistic Expectations

I am one of those people that sometimes has dreams that are a touch on the vivid/detail-oriented side.  Oh, here, allow me to hand back the eyeballs that rolled clean out of the heads of those of you who know my dreaming tendencies at that slight understatement.  If it were possible to smell colors in dreamland I'd win the gold medal.

A couple of weeks ago I woke with a striking memory of my dream.  This is not uncommon for me, I can remember dreams I had in grade school, but more often than not I lay in bed thinking about the dream with absolutely no earthly idea what was going on in my subconscious to have conjured the often epic levels of crazy.  This one, however, I understood completely and spent the rest of my day, and several days since, analyzing.

It started with some kind of shenannigans about stepping in to chaperone a youth trip to an amusement park.  I was happy to go, of course, but the last minute nature of the request made me feel unprepared and confused.  I became more confused when I learned that before we could leave we needed to wait until the end of a dance workshop I was urged to attend.  I found myself in a giant ballroom packed with women in various work out and dance attire and hip scarves.  About half of the women were sitting at tables placed around the back of the room while the other half were up in the front participating in a beginner belly dance work shop.  I found myself with that group, feeling like I was quite easily understanding and performing the simple, basic movements.  Soon it was time for the groups to switch and I quickly noticed the second group was for more advanced students, working on combinations and routine embellishments.  I felt a bit confused and oddly hurt, thinking I must have been accidentally put in the wrong group.  I noticed some friends that were in the second group, but none of them spoke up for me to join them.  I moved to the very back of the room where I could watch the lesson going on and try it quietly.  I got consumed with the movements and found myself practicing a spinning skill I had discovered.  I did it over and over, pushing myself to keep the spin for longer and longer, trying to perfect the foundation and control.  Suddenly the instructor of the workshop noticed me and stopped her class, bringing everyone's attention to me in my quiet corner.  She came to stand in front of me and lectured the entire room about how their dancing should never be about a one-trick pony, how they needed to learn variety and emotion to become excellent dancers.  I was mortified at being unfairly chastised and tried to tell her I could do what she was teaching, even following the moves she was demonstrating as she used me to prove some point, but she wouldn't see me, and no one spoke up...

The little title under my profile for this blog is "Jill of all Trades", which is sort of accurate, but not exactly.  To me calling someone a Jack of all trades is implying they are proficient or experts at a number of skills.  I am not much of an expert on anything, though I my range of skills, interests, and hobbies is vast and varied.  Capoeira, swing dancing, belly dancing, photography, gaming, knitting, crafting, scuba diving, ren fair-ing, first aiding, garden/landscaping, etc... I love all of the hobbies I participate in and can't imagine having to give any of them up.  The problem is in many ways they all suffer as a result.  To completely excel at a task I think you have to be completely committed, give time and dedication to honing a specific set of skills.  I don't have to the time, energy or will to sacrifice other things I love to pursue just one, and so in that regard I'll never perfect any of them.

I used to feel more frustration about this than I do now.  Getting older, that "maturity" business, helps keep things in perspective and understand the hows and whys of life.  Obviously if you don't focus on perfecting something, you won't perfect it.  I've come to that place of understanding and I'm thankful for it, though I still have my moments of struggle.

In addition to not having the refined physical skill to excel in most of these activities, the social interactions that are associated with them also suffer.  It's harder to be as close to a group of friends that are dedicated to one activity when you're constantly flitting from one to another.  I think that is the most difficult for me to handle.  I'm built the way I'm built and too far gone to come around to some star-quality physicality for any of these activities, but feeling like I'm on the outside of all the social groups I frequent still hurts, and I fear always will.  I'm present enough to join in the festivities but not enough to notice when I'm missing.  Glad to be a part of the activities I can be, but disheartened when I miss out on the opportunity to join more, even if I can't make it all the time.  Sad at discovering a group of friends has gone out to have a good time and I missed getting an invitation.

Now, this is NOT a pity party.  Several years ago it may very well have been, but today I can write these feelings from a much stronger, more level headed and understanding place.  It's been an incredible exercise to break myself down, look at all the places I excel and fail and try to think of ways to change the things I don't like.  One of those is my horrible ability to reach out to those I love.  Between a phone-centric day job, an ever rotating list of things that keep my busier than a one-armed paper hanger and that 50% Introvert part of me that needs alone time to recharge I have a hard time doing my part to work against feeling left out.  I realize that as my flaw and know that it is a fairly engrained part of me that will possibly always be difficult for me to try to overcome, but I'll never not want to try.

The physical perfection I will never have, but the efforts to build and support my structure of friends and loved ones, to be more involved and less lazy, I will always strive to maintain and improve.  I'm thankful for the personal growth I've had to be able to be in this place and glad for a dream that truly opened my eyes.

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