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  • Writer's pictureAmna Mazin

Why our Recital theme is called a "Race to Nowhere"

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Math team, Honors club, Debate team, Varsity Track, Varsity Cross Country, Dance Team Captain, AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP History, AP English, Modern UN Club, Peer Mediation Team.

These are just a few of the many activities I committed to in High School... in a single year. I was a straight A student who missed her lunch period to tutor kids and came to zero hour for dance practice and cross country training. I was in school before sunrise and home after sunset, often eating dinner alone around 8 pm and staying up until 2 am or longer doing home work and studying. I saw the glimmer of admiration in people's eyes when they saw or heard about all that I did.

My teachers praised me.

My parents showed me off.

Others' regard for me replaced my own regard for myself.

This gave me a feeling of happiness and so I added more and more. I became addicted to productivity, achievement and external validation - and they became my main source of happiness and fulfillment.

This is how my inner voice was slowly silenced.

Majoring in engineering at USC didn't help.

Picture: Eve and I at our college graduation

Neither did excelling at my job as an IT consultant. All of this further amplified my attachments to productivity, achievement and validation.

I was taught to asses my own value and self-worth through grades on a piece of paper since I was five years old. So, it's no surprise that as an adult, I gauged my happiness each day through the assessment of others.

I didn't know it then, but I had subconsciously handed my inner peace and joy to everything that was outside of me. It sounds so funny just saying this. My inner peace was dependent on everything outside of me. There is no logic or reason there. But yet here I was - completely disconnected from my inner compass.

Even though everyone around me had the best intentions, they were not awake to the things we are able to see now.

What I needed then was a parent who helped me learn how to say No to certain extracurriculars so I can get some more sleep and prioritize my mental health.

I needed teachers who taught me how to connect to my inner self so I wasn't so attached to other's validation and praises.

I needed people who praised my ability to prioritize and reduce the amount of activities I was involved in.

I needed a culture that didn't idolize an overwhelming schedule by telling me things like "You are amazing. You are super human to be able to do all this."

I needed a system that didn't gain financial wealth and power by pressuring me to be the type of person they wanted me to be.

I thought I ended this cycle during what I call my quarter life crisis, when I quit my job and started a dance company. But that was just the starting point. I had just entered the kindergarten year of my "Inner-Self School". There was much more to learn. Nine years later, I co-founded two new businesses. A couple years later I gave birth to my second child. I noticed the same glitter of admiration in people's eyes telling me how highly they think of me for being able to do so much: a dance company, two new initiatives and two children. This gave me the all too familiar feeling of happiness and fulfillment. I was subconsciously still feeding the same addiction that I nurtured throughout most of my childhood. My inner peace and joy were still heavily dependent on outside forces: productivity, achievement and external validation.

However, this time I was starting to pay more attention to my inner self. And I noticed the silent whisper that constantly said, "Amna, you want to be home with your kids. You want to play with them. You want to be present. You want to work on your mental health. You want to be able to spend time with your husband. You want to have time to read. Adding more things on your plate will only make it harder."

But I ignored it. Sometimes I did say no. Sometimes I did ask to slow down. But it was always a soft whisper, instead of clear, strong NO.

My inner muscle for needing others' validation was still much stronger than valuing my own authentic needs and truth. The whispers of my consciousness didn't stand a chance against my ego's screams.

My childhood had misleadingly led me to believe that I could do it all. My mind and body were trained to dismiss sleep and prioritize caffeine all throughout high school, college and adulthood. I can do it again, couldn't I?

I created so much chaos in my life due to this. My mental health suffered, my business relationships suffered, my creativity suffered, my parenting suffered, my marriage suffered, my friendships suffered. Until one day, when I had a breakdown, or as Brene Brown calls it - a Breakthrough!

My breakthrough helped me realize how I have betrayed my truth over and over again.

It was now or never.

Me or everything else.

And that's when my my body wailed. I felt everything break apart so I can rebuild again. I paid attention. I listened. I honored my inner voice.

I hit pause.

The first thing I paused was both of my new business initiatives.

And I have been hitting pause ever since then.

Pausing to listen to my inner voice: that majestic compass that takes care of me, knows me, stands up for me, guides me. It's the hardest work I have ever done because it demands me to live against the status quo. It is also the most fulfilling and truest work I have ever done because it has brought the type of joy and peace that I used to only dream of. I realize now that this feeling is the greatest "success" I could ever "achieve".

The world our collective egos have created is a living, breathing organism that needs us to race with each other, compete with each other.

And this race literally takes us further and further away from the greatest prize - us!

Instead we end up with big houses, fancy cars, shelves full of trophies and certificates, yet relatively disconnected with who we are because we are empty of peace, presence, patience, self-love, stillness, regulated emotions, ability to hear our inner truth... and where do we end up? Nowhere!

We "wander from room to room, hunting for a necklace, that was already around our neck." ~Rumi

There must be a way to excel in school and academics and get a great job and home, without losing who we are.

I have learned that there are five main ingredients that every child needs in order to stay connected to their inner compass and stay motivated by their unique and truest potential.

Knowing children spend more time in school now than ever before and since I am blessed to work with children, our 2023 recital theme is called a Race To Nowhere.

At the show, the Inspire Performance Company dancers and I will be sharing these five ingredients through personal experiences and dancing, of course.

To learn more about our recital, click here


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