A question of identity
I have always envied people who have a strong sense of self and identity, whether it is their culture, or their profession, their hometown, sports team, their passion… I feel like every marker of identity I’ve had has come with an asterisk, starting with my name. My gender was a topic of questioning throughout high school, to the point where even teachers joked that I must not really be a girl. I’ve lived half my life as a Richmonder, a Southerner, but I don’t think I’ll ever outlive the question “where are you really from”. And honestly, I don’t know how to answer that - I was born in Dhanbad, Bihar, which have now moved to Jharkand. But my family’s from South India, and I grew up in three different countries.
My childhood memories are from places I can’t go home to, and I’ve never felt Indian enough or American enough. Heck, I can’t even adopt the label ABCD that enshrines that confusion because I’m not American BORN. Even the simple ones feel hard - calling myself “Mom” or “Wife”, even though I am a mother, and I am a wife.
This hesitance of laying claim to an identity has long plagued me, and followed me into dance and writing as well. I cannot say how difficult it was to start a website with my name, and put the words dancer and writer as part of the tagline.
I dance. I love dance. I think about dance constantly. It’s been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember. So… why do I struggle calling myself a dancer? And how does that infiltrate my practice and presentation.
A piece of feedback I received after my lec demo from before Thanksgiving was that I need to be more involved in the dance, and this is a bridge I know I’ve got to cross, and I really haven’t been sure how. I’m wondering if the answer is somewhere wrapped up in identity.
I see others freely take pictures of themselves in dance poses, regardless of their surroundings, and share clips of their practices and performances on public forums, owning their passion and their identity and that’s daunting for me. I don’t feel I’ve done enough to deserve the label of a dancer. And therefore perhaps I don’t let myself go into my dancing. And the cycle continues.
How do I break that cycle? How did you?