Anxiety at 3am

This morning I woke up at 3am. Sleeping in a queen size bed with my two children, my five year old’s legs straddled across mine I woke up, to the go to the bathroom. I pushed JoJo over as I crawled back in bed, and then I started thinking…and couldn’t go back to sleep.

Sometimes laying in bed is a productive place for my mind. I have done some of my best choreographing while laying in bed trying to go to sleep, picturing the flow of movement in my mind. But moments like this morning, where I am re-rehashing what I didn’t do, or planning what I need to, aren’t always very useful.

When a show is approaching, I often wake up in the middle of the night anxious. I worry, too. Like most people, and I imagine like every other artist, I worry that this one is going to be the really bad show. The dance that turns everyone off. Makes everyone hate me. Proves that I am a fake. Shows that I can’t really make something.

The one thing that has gotten better in the now 20+ years of making dances is that I remember a little more to trust my mind. A good friend and fellow artist Bob Boster said to me while watching a roller skating show I directed (and we collaborated on) called SKATE!, “Allison you have a good mind…trust it.” That stuck with me.

I do have to figure out how to get behind my own mind. I have to decide to quiet myself enough to notice what is going on around me. To notice what I am really curious about. To see where my ideas take me.

Sometimes this looks like journaling and writing it down. Sometimes I just sit and imagine, trying ideas in my mind. It helps most to talk through my ideas with someone who can listen to me talk it all through. Seeing someone respond, even a head nodding, encourages me that I might be onto something.

Often at 3am I think why in the hell do I do this job. I don’t want this job anymore. I want a job where I just show up and do something easy, like follow directions. I don’t want to go all public. I don’t want to give folks a chance to criticize and talk about me. I hate having to put me and my ideas out in front. It can feel excruciating.

But then you know what I do? I go show up. I get in my car and drive to the sanitation yard, or the power company yard, or the parks and rec yard, and I go be with people. Being with people is the BEST way to talk myself down and decide once again that this life of making, of learning and practicing to trust my mind, of listening to people and building something together, does matter and is worth it. And it’s all going to be OK.

I have to remind myself that it is OK to hang out in the unknowing. I don’t have to know it all right now. Of course I wish I did. Of course I wish it were easy. That I knew my plan. That I said all the right things. That I never had to go back and re-work and apologize or fix. Oh well.


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