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I quit my lifelong hobby

by Ashley 8 months ago in happiness
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Sometimes quitting might be the hardest but the best decision!

Being a teen, I may not have many life experiences to write on but this is something I am sure many might have gone through, confronting that lifelong hobby or a lifestyle that is draining you from inside.

I started dancing since I remember myself existing. That is, about more than a decade. Quitting it had not been a simple task, convincing my parents were harder. So what made me quit an activity I was engaged in since I was a child and sometimes enjoyed too.

I am not perfectly sure, but one thing I knew dancing wasn’t a voluntary hobby of mine. My mom made me join Bharathantyam class at the age of 5 to rectify my minor spinal condition. Since then, for over a year, I would cry before every class until I got accustomed to it. My teacher was someone I respected, or I later realised, blindly worshipped. She had indirectly affected many life choices I made in the past.

Training under her was never easy. There has not been a class where I have not come back home without sore legs and a heavy heart. True, sore legs were part of what I or in my case my mom, signed me up for. But what about my heart? Why wasn’t I at peace after dancing? Why can’t I smile confidently or remember my steps even after hours of practice?

My dear dance teacher cracked a joke and like everyone else I laughed. Out of nowhere, she pointed out that my gums were black and that it looked like I had charcoal and that I should smile a certain way so it wouldn’t look weird.I was like, woah my gums are black? I had never noticed it, I never gave a sh*t about how I looked physically. But this incident had drawn my attention to something I normally would not. I was a sensitive person and her words stung my eyes. Since then I had practised laughing or smiling without showing my gums. Since then, I never smiled too confidently and would constantly get compared to my peers who can exceptionally bring all the emotions to face and make the activity enjoyable.

Physical punishments and humiliation were other reasons. Each time I would miss a step or wouldn’t fix my facial expression. She would either make me sit without letting me dance or throw a stick at my leg while dancing. It just didn’t happen with me but with a whole bunch of other students who weren’t much close to her. I admit I was not perfect, I definitely slacked here and there but she put us through too much it became a mental stain. You might be thinking why I never told my parents about it. It was because I thought it was normal, complaining about this, made me feel like a crybaby. Moreover, she was one of the most renowned dance teachers around my place, so how could she go wrong.

The stories she told in class normalised that behaviour, how she would throw sticks at kids in her olden-days, more brutally and no one would complain because they know they deserved it. She would humiliate and call someone a cry baby if they quit dancing and mind you many did and not on good terms.

I constantly felt out of place in that class. The only source of motivation we had were the physical punishments. After our debut at a temple it became harder as we were expected to ditch our school classes and join for the week-long practise for other performances. After one particular incident, we lost our trust in her. While performing, two of my dance mates nicked their feet badly from a nail on the stage. We refused to perform on that stage again without getting the nail done. But our protests fell on deaf ears. She shouted at us how disappointed she was in her students for not being able to take ‘slight’ nick and compromising her name in the industry

This is one thing I was grateful to the COVID-19. If it had not happened I would still be in that toxic environment ruining my mental health more. I have had enough when last year I felt suffocated as all of my classes were online it was overwhelming and I lost what little passion I had for dancing. I took the decision to quit dancing, and as much as it was hard coming to that decision I knew I won’t regret it. It took about a month to convince my mom and she called my dance teacher. When she requested that the phone be given to me I straight away refused, I knew it will make it harder if I hear her speak. That was really very rude of me but I had enough of playing nice. It sure will be awkward if we bump into each other in future but for now, am trying not to overthink about it.

I had my feet in many boats...from drawing classes to dance classes to abacus; They expected me to excel in everything and though it might not sound like much. The constant need to prove myself to others was intense as I started to take more classes and my grades became tougher. I had taken up more than I could chew, and it took me years to figure it out.

Since I quit, I had attained an inner peace that I didn’t for the past decade. No more sulking on Sunday mornings, no more staring at the mirror structuring my smile and no more of stage performance. After coming to terms with it one thing I realised was that I didn’t hate dancing completely. I still dance in the privacy of my room the way I want.

I couldn’t quit dance cause I had already dedicated a way too large fraction of my life perfecting my moves and attending classes. As much as it was suffocating to continue dancing, I couldn’t think of quitting as it had become a part of my life. And I thought shouldn’t give up something like that halfway, though clearly, I had no goals or passion with that hobby of mine.

It was no longer a hobby it became a chore.

Then I wasn’t aware that it was okay to quit, that it was okay to stop doing something which was consuming me negatively and compromising my mental health.

~I’m realising the difference between giving up and knowing when you had enough

happiness

About the author

Ashley

Being louder than the voices in my head....

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