As I alluded to a few weeks ago, I recently found myself in a situation in which I had to say NO.
This NO started out as a “No, I’m not going to call myself anything other than Dramatherapist, whether or not there is any evidence for it!” In doing this, I terminated an almost 4-year relationship with an organisation with which I had been working since my trainee days.
And as someone who doesn’t believe in coincidences, this situation occurred in the same week that my clinical supervisor explicitly warned me that I was probably very close to burnout. Professional relationship ends abruptly and supervisor tells me I need to stop. I mean, what bigger sign does one need, really?
It has now been more than a month and many things have changed. I didn’t foresee this, as we rarely do, but this NO opened up quite the process for me. Mainly, I found myself questioning things that I had never questioned before, such as what I really wanted to do with my life and what my purpose was. Not that this was always clear to me, but I always had feelings and instincts which led me to do the many things that I have done. But after that happened, there was nothing. I felt like I was facing a massively tall wall and couldn’t find a way to get past it.
All I had were these nagging questions, which kept me up at night, and distracted during the day:
What happens when your dreams, instincts, desires, motivation, and ambition, lead you to a spiritual, emotional, and mental junction?
What happens when, out of nowhere, at the age of 30, you feel that you don’t know what to do with your life, for the first time in your life?
What happens when the thing that you thought was finally going to bring you all the fulfilment and sense of purpose you’ve always craved, actually leads you to a place where you lose sight of the horizon?
What happens when all the risk-taking, faith-leaping, and universe-trusting, leads to a sense of emptiness and numbness?
What happens when you realise that making a living and making a life are pointing in opposite directions?
What happens when you realise that you have been willingly putting yourself in a box of limited thinking and creativity?
What happens when everything which made sense to you, no longer makes sense?
I have been mourning whilst answering these questions lately. Mourning the fact that life is not how I thought it was or was going to be. This came with a great sense of loss and disorientation.
Initially, I rushed to do many things to try and salvage my then almost unemployed status, but nothing worked or caught on, which created even more anxiety and stress. And then, I remembered this saying, present in many spiritual traditions: when you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. I embraced stillness and being uncomfortable, panicky, restless.
By saying NO to further diminishing of my self, and my skills and talents, I had inadvertently said YES to many other things: ideas, creativity, intuition, desires, motivations. I realised that these had always been there, but they had been under some kind of repressive system, ruled not by fear of failure, but by fear of powerful potential and manifestation of my own light.
One of the first things that emerged from surrendering to stillness was the certainty that I hadn’t made a mistake, and the intuitive confirmation that remaining in that role would have further confined my creativity, integrity, talent, and potential. That it was time to embrace the alternative aspects of Dramatherapy, to stop justifying and defending, to just do the work, and to let go of the various forms of mainstream shackles I had been living under.
Another thing that emerged was a performance. Now, I hadn’t created or performed any work – outside of academia – in about 8 years. In the space of two weeks, this idea came through, I sat down to write its first draft, performed a preview at an open performance night, and found a director.
Many other events have been taking place which have led me to my current journey of allowing myself to express my potential in its various forms. I watched a TED talk which I found very inspiring and which deeply resonated with me. In it, the speaker presents and discusses the idea of being a person with many talents and passions, and not having to dismiss some in favour of others, or subscribe to the pressure of being only one, very definable, thing. She references the idea that during the Renaissance, people were encouraged to master many different disciplines, and that the focusing on one talent/skill emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution and its need for efficiency.
Watching that talk, made me realise that I had been focusing and putting pressure on only one of my talents/skills, to the detriment of my other talents. I began to consider this deeply and felt that this was the direction I wanted to take: to not just be a Dramatherapist, but to also be other things. To expand my label. In fact, to not be bound by labels. To fully embrace all that I am, and all that I can do.
To do this fully, I am creating something new: a different, more expansive, more artistic, and more authentic practice, of which Dramatherapy will only be one of three branches.
I will be taking a long break to do some inner work, to create more, to live more, to be more, and ultimately to honour and unveil the parts of me that I have been neglecting. I will return in a few months with a new brand, image, work, and ethos.
I guess I’m doing that which my Dramatherapy tutors always encouraged me to do: taking care of myself.
See you all soon, and take care!