The Only Thing I Ever Truly Cared About
I caught a spark with dance, and writing at a young age, but I never felt any explosive ambition toward achievements in either medium. I liked competing in dance and getting better, but I was more committed to the little nuances of my experience: how to act around teachers, how to support my peers, how to assist the younger kids, how to make people laugh and keep my spirits up; how to balance flexibility, strength, and performance face.
I cared about my grades too... I fit well into academic structures because I liked learning and I liked pleasing people. I liked homework because it was me-time, and I'm an introvert...I enjoy being alone with my thoughts. But I didn't spend much time envisioning an accomplished future in Science or English. I liked the feel of textbook pages. I liked the class that came before the lunch bell. I liked field trips and track and field days. I liked cleaning and decorating my locker. I liked when the hallways were quiet.
I liked thinking about love: not necessarily romance, although there was plenty of hormone-fueled fantasies and confusing feelings. I was constantly thinking about my relationships with everyone. It was so complex... the chemistry and communication you could have with any person you knew, and all the ways you could make it better or screw it up.
I wrote long notes to my friends and relished time with them outside of school. I tried to be a cool kid in so many different ways...weird makeup/fashion choices (crushed velvet leopard-print pants? Blue-green eyeliner? Crimped 80's hair?), sports devotion, talking up boy stuff like it was no big deal to me (it was the biggest deal to me), letting the 9th grade Alpha guys copy my homework before class, learning to shotgun beers, spending long nights on msn chat with potential crushes. I committed early on to making people laugh at all costs, too (it's such an easy, genuine expression of joy). In truth, being an honor roll kid and winning dance competitions weren't the goals I cared about most. I wanted to figure out Love.
Out of high school, love was still all I really cared about. I was still trying to act cool, but this elusive 'love' goal ruled my choices. It did for 10+ years. A younger me might be embarrassed to admit that. Like, 'Really? You could have been a better, smarter dancer and started a more focused career out of the gate. You could have gotten a degree if you had cared more. You could have traveled more on your own/been better with money/started a business/etc.' But there's no use scolding oneself for admitting the truth: I was most interested in what love and relationships had to offer. I was less concerned about money and my career. I followed and settled with lovers in different cities and with vastly different prerogatives. I committed to love across distances and hardships. On more than one occasion, I lost myself in what I thought was love... but love (and people's presumptions about its qualities) can be tricky to navigate.
I learned this and many other hard lessons on that road:
That people who have undealt-with-issues can take advantage of me.
That managing money and time and moving forward in my artistic career is truly important to me, even though it wasn't my focus when I was younger.
That I'm worth more than I initially realized, and the love I have to give is pretty special.
That sex ≠ love, BUT...
Love + communication + feeling safe to be yourself & play = very good sex
That working on SELF-love is a key to more satisfying relationships with everyone in my life, because it's the only love I'm 100% responsible for.
That love is messy and imperfect and in a constant state of growth and discovery. It's not stagnant or final or even remotely predictable.
That love is still my favorite thing to care about, and I'm fine with admitting that.
Obviously, no one has it all figured out. But I feel I've unlocked the kind of love I always wanted for myself, and I get to explore all its little details and complexities from here on out. Feeling more stable in the love department has helped me finally focus intently on my creative and financial desires. And, I'm bringing all my 'love experience' to the game...enjoying new and old connections with people and lighting up the room with my love-dedication.