sometimes, we should pause…

It’s confession time yet again… I’ve heard many stories about post-dissertation blues. Many of my post-dissertation friends have regaled me with tales of depression, anxiety, and a feeling of being lost and inexplicably sad. This sounded completely absurd, after all finishing the dissertation and graduating has been a long sought and hard-fought for goal. It’s EPIC! It’s supposed to be standing at the peak of Mt. Everest, Rocky Balboa on the top of the stairs, a perfect, clean triple pirouette that EVERYONE saw especially the teacher! How could one possibly even think about being sad after a doctoral graduation, no one can be sad who has a fancy puffy hat with a gold tassel!?!?!

I’ve been sad. And lost. And lonely. And anxious. And oddly depressed. I’ve been deep in classic post-dissertation blues. How could this be? And how do I make it stop? Over the past three months, I’ve tried herbal remedies, teas, massage, acupuncture, meditation; I tried cutting out caffeine, meat, dairy… that only made me sadder if truth be told. And what I’m about to say may shock you but not as much as it shocked me… even ballet class seemed long, empty, and woefully sad. I talk to PhD friends everyday – some who are finished and some who are still dissertating and I feel less alone in this weird, fuzzy place. I talk to CarBoy because he has been right there through it all. And now I’m sharing it with you because as I begin to come out of this blues-soaked funk, I start to realize that sometimes we as human beings go through some sort of trauma – sometimes it’s really well disguised trauma – and we don’t recognize the need for recovery. When I injured my foot, down time was important. Recovery required me to be patient and kind to myself. Recovery required enough wisdom to know when to work and to know when to rest; the balance between the two being paramount if I had any hope of returning to dance.

And now I continue to recover from this long arduous journey that I’ve been on. I take time to be kind to myself, patient with myself, and to acknowledge what I’ve gone through to get here. I continue to be as generous as I can with rest and healthy choices. There were times when I so doubted myself for having lost my enthusiasm and my optimism and my willingness, no, my great love for work. And now I realize that I just need to recover. I have not lost my love for ballet, my mental strength, nor my joy in sweating through a challenging class. I still love it and I always will. I’ve just been tired. And as much as it would be super cool to have a magic lasso and super power bracelets, I am not wonder woman. I’m just me. Well, now I’m Dr. Me and that’s pretty cool too.

It took me three years to write a beautiful and powerful dissertation that represents who I am and is a work to which I have proudly affixed my name and reputation. So it might take me a while to find myself again and right myself. I was really starting to worry until I started to feel that bright and lovely flow of energy, that impulse born of the music that moves your spirit and then your body. It had seemed like dancing hadn’t helped and that it might be slipping away. But it isn’t gone, I have not been abandoned. It’s still there, it just needs a little time and a little extra care. Whatever we go through, even when dancing doesn’t seem to help and we might even consider giving up, don’t walk away from yourself and dance. Sometimes the dancer just needs to rest and recover. Sometimes we shouldn’t push through, sometimes we should pause. I had forgotten all about the 109th bead, selah, reverence – the pause of gratitude, grace, acknowledgement, silence, and rest. When we are healed and ready to return, the studio will be waiting, barres at the ready and we can once again dance.

See you in class.

7 thoughts on “sometimes, we should pause…

    • It was short lived.

      Carboy: Have some coffee.
      Me: But I’m in the shower.

      Carboy: Have some coffee.
      Me: But I’m brushing my teeth.

      Carboy: Have some more coffee.
      Me: But I’m trying to cut out caffeine!
      Carboy: Trust me, it’s for the good of all humankind. Have some coffee.

      Thanks, Robin 🙂

  1. The dissertation was the center of your existence, your raison étre, and now you don’t have it anymore, so now what? You have achieved something few have (though it does”t feel that way since all we know are Phds and grad students), but as ambitious people we always look to the next goal. And it seems like you’ve make getting over this your new goal. Why don’t you try a contemporary dance class (something with less discipline than ballet) or hip-hop…something to take the Phd out of her rigor and control?

    I love you darlin’ but I think you need to let yourself go and play. Just a little.

    • Do you know how much it pains me that I cannot knock on your door, bring a pie to you, and give you many hugs???

      You are exactly right, of course. But as I’ve struggled over the past three months to try to deal with this all I could come up with was to address recovery the way I address everything else. It has indeed become my current project. Just trying to wing it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I probably do need to play a bit but as I’m not particularly good at it, I’m a little lost on that front. I still need the structure to feel right. :/

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