Close to turning 40 and increasingly getting bored with my routine at work and home, I decided to rekindle my love of dancing, going as far as to teach Zumba, a dance fitness program that was a growing craze at the time. Although I have no formal dance training, I’d danced a lot in my youth and teenage years and I have this knack for being able to readily pick up body movements. Just as some people are good at mimicking other’s voices, I find it easy to learn and repeat dance moves.
As a child, I was often asked to perform during family gatherings and I would willingly do so, spending many hours choreographing my moves. I dreamed of becoming a dancer and begged my parents to let me attend ballet classes at a nearby school. As they didn’t see dancing being a solid career option for me, they refused. Instead, they encouraged me to take up the piano, even though I had absolutely no talent nor real interest in it, and we didn’t have a piano at home. I remember having to practice using a keyboard that I’d drawn on a piece of paper.
Without support and encouragement from my parents, my involvement in dance faded. As I became an adult, the demands of everyday life (studies, work, marriage, running a house) squeezed out any time that I had for myself. It was only during my late 30s and feeling that I needed some exercise, fun, and excitement, that I got back into it. I started attending a variety of classes (salsa, flamenco, ballroom, etc) and went on to teach Zumba at our local YMCA and other fitness centers nearby. I did that for 4 years, stopping abruptly a couple of years ago when I developed a foot injury. Dancing has always been a blissful activity for me, something that recharged and renewed me, and so I was sad to have to give it up.
Psychologists would describe my return to dancing as an attempt to ‘reconnect with one’s inner child’. Reconnecting with our inner child means going back to doing things we enjoyed as a child such as painting, playing a musical instrument, singing, reading, writing, and dancing. Reconnecting with our inner child is bringing back the clown, the artist, or even the rebel in us that we had consciously abandoned when we entered adulthood, as these are seldom welcome in the workplace, and perhaps even in the marriage. These are activities or parts of us that do not provide economic rewards and do not have a place in our busy adult lives, so we put them aside or even go as far as concealing them.
Evidently, reconnecting with our inner child can help in averting a midlife funk, and if we are already experiencing it, it can help us heal from it. As we are prone to experiencing a funk in midlife and in later years, it appears we must make time for our inner, neglected child. I’ve wondered if giving up on Zumba and dancing altogether had facilitated the slip into this funk.
Reference: James Hollis. The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. The Inner City Books, 1993.