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  • Writer's pictureEmily Royce

You Mean I Gotta Do This For Myself?

This week's blog inspired by another Yin yoga class tonight where I was the one to speak to the teacher about the blocks being all gone. When they were delivered, apparently there was just enough for everyone but me. No one noticed this irony. I guess I expected folks to be looking out for me, for things to be "fair." I stored my hurt feelings in my hip flexor to come up in a gush of tears and self pity during the last stretch of the class. Teacher was giving lots of prompts about choosing here it is.

Bali has been rough. It feels ridiculous to write that but it's the truth. Turns out community is even more important to me than I thought. I've seen the studies and the movies and have been a part of enough solid communities to know firsthand what a difference it makes for health and happiness. But there is that line where it crosses into dependence, into a belief that I cannot do it on my own. That is the transition I am experiencing now.

No one held my hand or coddled me in Africa. Not when I threw my back out, not when my MS flared, not when I missed home and definitely not that time I got beat up. But I was still HELD. I had folks checking in on me, looking out for me, rooting for me. And yes, many situations were different. I was staying with friends and family of loose connections. I was dancing so I had teachers and drummers seeing me most days. I was most often the only white westerner around so there was something of the unfamiliar and exciting to my visits. I was dependent on the knowledge of my hosts and the kindness of new friends. But I was also traveling in black communities and, in my experience, there is a different sense of camaraderie and looking out for the community as a whole. I was adopted into many families. I was taught languages and customs. I was expected to do my part to help out the larger group. I was expected to have quick comebacks and not take the teasing harshly.

I knew it would be different to travel to a place without these pre-made connections, to travel solo for the first time in my life. And without a clear objective, like dance, to anchor me this month. I was nervous in anticipation of being around white culture again, and of not having to learn the language of the land because English would be so prevalent. But I did not realize how fragile my ego, my sense of self, still is. I felt strong and courageous in Africa, because the community expected me to be and supported me in that. Bali is like entering school for the first time in 5th grade (I was homeschooled until then) and getting enough slights by mean girls for me to put up barriers that I have held onto for life. At the time I cut all my shirts into "muscle tees" and started wearing bandanas. I feel the same impulse to protect myself with separation rising up in me here. It's the old defense of tricking the system into believing there is no rejection from others because I have pre-judged them and decided I am the one who is not interested in knowing them first.

But at that sold-out ecstatic dance tonight, I just wanted to be one of the girls in a half shirt and side braids. I wanted to be accompanied by a lanky fellow with giant armpit holes and a man bun. Or I at least wanted them to look at me with the same look I was giving them. I wanted them to want to be me a little bit too. But I couldn't even get anyone to make eye contact.

Ultimately when I left America in September I knew this open-ended voyage would crack me open, get me to see my own power and force me to stand on my own two feet. Africa did the cracking. I saw enough of my power to be frustrated by this seeming regression in Bali. But this is just part of the ebb and flow. I built up my strength and courage for months to face a trauma that is the root of much, if not all, my insecurity. Bali is like one giant trauma trigger of popular girls. Now is the stepping in and standing up. I don't want to believe the same story of being the outsider, the victim, the no-good. I want to be my authentic self for no one else but me, for no other reason than to serve the Universe in the purpose I know this lifetime has for me. Adoration is seductive but I cannot crumble in it's absence. Having others look out for me is the type of community I know I want to be in but it is time to look out for myself. To nurture and believe in my gifts and inherent goodness before I expect others to. They can't see me because I can't see myself clearly right now either.

(This does not excuse white people for relatively sucking at community and this will most likely be the subject of next week's blog. Had to do my own self-reflection and owning first, but seriously, come on white folks.)

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