Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

It can be so frustrating sometimes to do what we love when what we love isn't guaranteed, doesn't make a lot of money, or is incredibly competitive. I think belly dancing fits into all of those categories. It's not guaranteed: you never know when it will end, whether because of a change in your life, a venue closing, or (heaven forbid) something happens to you physically or to your health. It doesn't make a lot of money: as an engineer, I can safely say that I will be guaranteed to have at least $50k a year after I graduate - I definitely can't say that about dance. It goes without explanation that belly dance is competitive, just like any art. 

I made a New Years resolution to post once a week. Well, it's almost mid April and this is my first post since New Years. I don't exactly feel great about that. January was lost with final exams, February started an internship, and the rest is just being too tired to even want to post. Poor excuses (except the exams). 

So many dancers I feel have the same problems as I do, just for different reasons. Money plays a major part in how we grow as dancers. I don't think that it can be avoided. Taking lessons takes money. Having the time to dance means taking time away from something else. Buying shoes, dance clothes, accessories, partaking in workshops, traveling, all takes money. So many of us get stuck in a rut when we can't afford - either with time, money, or both - to focus on our dance. It's usually a choice, for example, when we decide to have a family, or for me, when I decided to get my masters and PhD. 

I've been incredibly frustrated this year because last year was the first time I was really able to focus on my dancing. I went to multiple workshops, I started a certification program, and I even competed for the first time. This year, thanks to an error by the French government with my visa, I lost thousands of euros (remember, I live in France) and haven't been able to feed myself or pay rent, let alone focus on my dancing. There have been so many unnecessary inconveniences concerning our finances that the only thing I've been able to do (again, barely) is keep up with my once-a-week group lessons.

I think frustrating is the best word for it. I know it's only temporary. After all, I can only be a poor student for so long. This fall I'll be starting my PhD (finally, I get paid to go to school!). With a PhD in engineering, I know I will always be able to find work and afford a home and food. I am so blessed to be able to pursue this career. But sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be 29 this summer and not once in my life have I ever made enough money to afford all of my rent AND pay for food for one month. I'm honestly just getting a little tired of it - and I know I'm not the only one out there who is in a similar situation or feels the same way.

My mother always led me toward a degree in either math or science. She is an artist, and saw early on that I inherited her talent, but she never wanted me to depend solely on art for a living. She knew that I inherited her intelligence as a scientist and mathematician as well, and therefore pushed me toward those subjects, telling me that I can always do art on the side. Honestly, even though it's frustrating right now, I never regret listening to her. Belly dancing is amazing, and I have the utmost respect for anyone who lives solely off their art, but I like the idea of one day having a guaranteed job, guaranteed money, guaranteed paid time off, etc.. There are plenty of places around the world who hire engineers - I'll always be able to apply for work. I'll get a real contract, not just for one day or one month. I'll be paid an actual salary. If I get sick, I can have paid leave. If (again, heaven forbid) I end up in a wheelchair or something happens to me physically, I can still be an engineer.

So, I'll continue to wait. I'll continue to work. One day (and every day is closer to that one day), I'll have a great job with a great salary and be able to afford lessons and costumes and workshops and a nice house with a dance studio - and everything will have been worth it.

So if you're feeling frustrated about not being able to focus on your dance, just be patient. Have a plan to eventually get there, but be kind to yourself. As long as you're working toward your goal, you'll make it. :)

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I fell in love with belly dancing when I was 16 years old. I was a Russian dancer with a group from my church and we were performing at an international party when I saw belly dancing for the first time. I couldn't stop watching the dancer and decided from that point on that I would focus all of my dance energy on belly dancing. The rest is history...


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