When I moved to New York City three years ago from Los Angeles, it was decided by one phone call. I had been a dancer my whole life and had always dreamed of moving to the city to perform on Broadway. As I got older, pushing 30, I realized the days of uprooting myself and sleeping on friends’ couches were pretty much over. I was too comfortable in my LA lifestyle to start all over again. This particular Friday my agent called with good news. I had booked a job, a major job, on Broadway. One catch. They wanted me there for rehearsal Monday!
I left Los Angeles for a temporary gig that ended up inspiring me to stay in New York City indefinitely. I was living my dreams in the most exciting city in America with a job on the Broadway stage. After a year though, my contract ended. I thought getting another Broadway show should be easy. Think again. Week after week I would schlep every dance shoe I own on my back to a packed train, to a packed street, only to squeeze myself into a spandex unitard and THEN be forced to wait hours in a room full of 200 dancers. And although we share painfully obvious insecurities, some of them prance around like puffed up peacocks which is ridiculous because we all have to jump through hoop after fiery hoop…..only to get cut. Despite my friend’s supportive and encouraging behavior, I was down, way down. As the unemployment turned from weeks into months, one particular friend’s six Broadway show resume started getting to me. The fact that he was still living my dream gradually made me fill with jealousy. While he dreamed – I was wide, wide, awake.
So, what do you do when you feel jealous? The definition of jealousy is: feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. This is, by all means not a socially acceptable emotion. No one willingly admits that they’re jealous. It’s one of those icky negative emotions like anger, distrust, and contempt. We say, “I don’t feel those!” If any admission is made it’s often downgraded to envy, which is really just the first step on the road to jealousy. The reality is, even if we don’t admit it, we all feel it.
I had a slap-in-the-face realization that things are very different when you move 3,000 miles away from familiarity. Twenty-nine years constructed a pretty full life. I had friends, work, and family. I had a life that was my own. Now here, in NYC, where I’ve always wanted to be, I often felt lost, overwhelmed, unaccomplished, inexperienced, and inept. The weather is harsher than imagined. My field is more competitive. Everyone seems to be doing what I can’t. Life here is about survival of the fittest, and man am I OUT OF SHAPE!
But really, my jealousy was actually a mask. A façade to cover my fear of doing something I wanted but wasn’t brave enough to move beyond. As I examined my jealousy further, I realized that all jealousy is fear. The fear that we will not get what we want, the frustration that someone else seems to be getting it, even though we are too frightened to reach for it.
So, what to do next? When you’re at a crossroads there are only two roads to take, and one leads to nowhere. Believe me, I was happy in my misery, and fed it with daily pitty parties that included lots of Ice cream, shoe shopping, and mojitos in the afternoon. Jealousy is the poison apple that corrodes our dreams. In the “Artist’s Way” author Julia Cameron writes: “The desire to be better than can choke off the desire to just be.” It is our intrinsic longing to be perfect, if that’s at all possible, that causes us to become paralyzed. We, as in I, make excuses as to why things never work out for me and just stay stuck. Heading down the road to nowhere.
But what if this time we tried a different approach? Went to the mental ‘gym’, built our resolve, eliminated the ability to blame circumstances for our deficiencies? Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” The jealousy is just a distraction from ourselves and our selves are where the power lies.
It is here that I gain the lessons I need to learn through Pilates. Mr. Joseph Pilates was a brilliant man and knew “It is the mind that builds the body”. Through doing my daily Pilates workout, I gain strength both mentally and physically. Every aspect of life is affected. The way I move, the way I feel, the way I think. I start with the most basic exercises like the hundred and the roll-up. With every workout I can feel my powerhouse becoming stronger and more connected. My mind becomes clearer and more focused. Suddenly I’m sailing through more intimidating exercises like the teaser and the long spine, and as a result of my hard work I am rewarded with inner and outer strength and am satisfied. I am doing something for me, about me. My jealousy magically begins to dwindle.
Jealousy now has become a gift, as so many of life’s seemingly negative experiences are. Not just an exercise program, Pilates gave me the key to reclaiming my life. Pilates is a workout and hard work yields results on the mat and off. In Pilates as well as in life what you put into it is what you get out. Pilates inspires me to work harder and reminds me what is important in my life. Even fifty years later Joe’s advice still rings true. Only I have the power to become “the architect of my own happiness.”
Isn’t it time you became the architect of your own happiness? Schedule a session at FORM Pilates NYC and one of our amazing instructors will show you how!
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