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In my last post I gave a little introduction to myself that included a brief overview of my experience of being a dancer and how it made me who I am. I would recommend giving that one a read if you haven’t already. As I said, I am a dancer (despite my lack of actual classes at the moment). Once a dancer always a dancer. The many years of classes and exams made me a very tough and enduring person. But it also gave me the chance to view myself in a way that most people won’t. There is a large difference between looking at yourself in a mirror in the bathroom and standing in a leotard and tights in front of a wall of mirrors and needing to critique the shapes you are making with your body. There is a lot of self-criticism that comes with being a dancer, and this criticism can become all-consuming if you have the predisposition to obsessive behaviour and thought, which I do.
I don’t remember exactly when it started, but I would always look in the mirror and point out all the things that I didn’t like about myself (physically). My hips were too big, my waist not defined enough, my arms not long enough, my feet not arched enough. It is human nature to focus on the negatives and not the positives, it's a survival thing. Then one day, another voice started agreeing with what I was saying. It was no longer just my own thought, I was no longer alone in my head. The thoughts of “not good enough” became “what are you going to do about it?” I was no longer in complete control, which is a strange thing to consider when control is the driver of everything. The other voice, “Rexy” as my mum would call her after my diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, became the driving force for me to fix the things that I saw were wrong with me. The thoughts went from simply being an unhappy observation to provoking actions of change. Unfortunately, these changes were not for the better. That voice told me what I needed to do in order to regain control (because apparently I had lost it). It told me to begin unhealthy behaviour that, once started, became habits that were incredibly painful to change.
Back to that voice though. We all have thoughts, but we don’t all have a second option (in our head). Whether you have a voice in your head or not, I'd hope the concept is easy enough to understand. The words from this voice are not created by your immediate conscious; you don’t have control over them and they often take control of thoughts. More experiences of this other voice are negative than positive. Because of this, I want to stress the importance of not ignoring the voice. If you ignore it and don’t seek help when you first notice it, then it may become more and more powerful, growing in the back of your mind until it finally reaches the light. Then you have a bigger issue than what you started with. I didn’t accept my other voice for quite some time, and when I finally did, it took a lot of hard work and effort (from family and friends as well) to help get rid of it.
There is a power in acceptance. When you can face your challenges head on, you have a greater ability to face them. Shying away from a challenge never fixed it; this is the same. Denial is your worst enemy, and acceptance is your best friend. I encourage anyone with another voice to seek professional help and to open up to their support network. You are never the only one, you are never alone!