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The Blog of Emily McDowell Studio

Dance Neurosis Resumé

It is FOR REAL my intention to be blogging here regularly because I really like writing in a longer-form way. People keep asking how my “new life” is going now that we’ve shifted our wholesale fulfillment to Madison Park Group, and I keep responding with a weak laugh because nothing is less busy yet. But it will be!

In the meantime, while I’m still working on other things, I wanted to share a thing I wrote a few years ago. I am fascinated by why we believe the things we believe about ourselves. Like, how is it that something some stupid kid said to you when you were 10 can stick with you for the rest of your life and shape your thoughts and behavior as an adult?

For example: I’ve been self-conscious about my fat fingers since sixth grade, when three boys in my class (all of whom are still my Facebook friends 30 years later, FWIW) decided that my hands were “puffy” (OOH, SICK BURN?) and that my new nickname would be “Powerful, puffy, and pathetic,” which DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE. I mean, powerful and pathetic totally contradict each other? But maybe that’s why neither of those adjectives stuck with me the way “puffy” did.

The idea that three 11-year-old boys could create a narrative that defines me in my own head for 30 years seems so silly when you pull it out and dissect it with adult thinking, but logic doesn’t always factor into the way we see ourselves. In psychology, those ideas about ourselves are known as “limiting beliefs,” and most of us have them.

One of the most significant limiting beliefs that I’ve carried with me for decades involves the idea of me as the worst dancer and most graceless being since the dawn of time. A few years ago, I decided to get to the bottom of where this came from, and the result was this Dance Neurosis Resumé. I am slightly embarrassed to share it with you, but I’m doing so because I’ve come to realize that the most rewarding things to share are almost always embarrassing or uncomfortable.