Dance as a Means of Escape

I’m grateful for bad experiences. Those bad times can force you to create better times. Better times lead to good times.

One of my first jobs out of school, I had a manager who had no experience as an art director. Being micromanaged by someone who didn’t know what they wanted was an uncomfortable situation and super frustrating. There was a helplessness in that I didn’t know how to fix the situation and no one I could go to for help. The sensation felt like wanting to escape, but something holding me back. That doesn’t quite encapsulate how I felt, but I tried to do my best work. It was extremely rare when I felt like I had achieved it. The designs and ideas didn't feel like they were mine. At all. In school, this was referred to as “being a wrist.” But if I am being truly honest with myself, I was enduring the misery in the hopes I could power through it. It never occurred to me that I could just go find better job. Back then, in my mind, quitting or getting fired was tantamount to failure. I was young then, and didn't know how to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

The frustration of having someone indecisive sit behind me whispering in my ear how she wanted me to move the mouse, “click on this,” or “change the size of that,” slowly drove me insane. The heat from her face on the back of my neck. This being one of my first in-house jobs, I had no idea it wasn’t supposed to be like this. There weren’t any computers in the art department of my college at the time. My teachers taught traditional drawing and painting, with pencil and paper, markers, oil paint and acrylics. Early Photoshop couldn't even do layers back then and was crazy expensive. My school was rigorous and competitive, with no room for whining. I had no idea that in the real world, your boss wasn’t supposed to ride you like Zorro. I thought this was normal and every job was like this and I just needed to suck it up and deal.

On a lark, my neighbor invited me to go to a local Ballroom Dance studio to get me out of my funk and my house. It was fun and I signed up for lessons. As I learned to dance, I realized that I was making own decisions. I was reacting to the music, putting together steps and creating my own moves. There was no longer an indecisive "team lead" whispering in my ear exactly what I should do (and then say no, I don't like that, put it back the way it was), the music went in my ear, to my brain, and out my feet. The ladies I was dancing with followed my lead, without question. It was so liberating.

It got to the point where I was dancing for three or four hours a night, for over a year. Going for breakfast after midnight and eating a full meal. I could feel the calories evaporating off my skin along with my sweat. Waking up at 6 o’clock to get ready for work and then doing it all over again. I was so healthy back then.

Dancing was fun. I was a fiend for finding new places with live bands. I regret stopping. I even did a couple of professional gigs as a dancer. I miss those days. I wonder if I can ever get back to them.

Checking to see if my dance shoes still fit.

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@PixelColada

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