Prior to presenting my life script, I would like to take the liberty of introducing myself. I am a 23-yearold lady, hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. My father is a medical doctor and my mother, a pharmacist. They have been divorced for more than three years now but they both live in Tokyo, Japan. I have two younger brothers; one goes to medical school in Japan and the other goes to boarding school in England. My childhood is something I hold close to my heart, for it was in many ways interesting. I have lived abroad for most of my life. As I have stated, my father, a medical doctor, worked for the United Nation.
This job demanded frequent travel and consequently my family was constantly moving around the world to places like France, Switzerland, Korea, Russia and Japan. To address the travel issues, I took an entrance test for a girls’ boarding school when I was three-years-old since it would allow me go to its sister’s school later on in my senior years. At that age, I also started taking classical ballet classes. As I continued my journey through life from childhood to adolescence, ballet remained an integral aspect of my life with respect to my development.
I placed all my time, concentration and energy into ballet, though I will delve into the details elsewhere in this script. At the age of sixteen, I left ballet school for personal reasons and decided to pursue a career outside ballet. Without further ado, I allow me to go into my life script. Quoting an excerpt from our class text, “Our life script, including the messages from both our family of origin and our culture, forms the core of our personal identity. ” I could not agree more. Since I have lived abroad in various countries outside my home, I have always asked myself, “Who am I?
”, “What am I? ” and “What defines me? ” Each of these questions explores a different aspect of my social identity. When I was an elementary school student in Switzerland, I was like an energetic, studious student. During lectures, it never embarrassed me to ask questions at all so I was asking constantly presenting queries whenever I encountered difficult problems. Even though I was only seven or eight years old, I knew I needed to master the material in order to excel in my exams. In my case, this ties in with Erikson’s stage four – “Industry versus Inferiority”.
I received praise for my work from both my peers and my teachers and it encouraged me to undertake and complete more challenging tasks. I particularly wanted to gain recognition for my innovation. In general, children’s efforts to master school work help them to grow and form a positive self-concept – a sense of who they are. Once I moved to Asia, many changes took place, most of them negative. In Korea, it is considered rude for a student to ask questions during class because it is thought to interrupt the lesson. Compare this with Swiss classrooms, in which children are encouraged to ask questions.
It is all about culture so that moving to a school abroad meant adjusting a new culture. However, since I was used to the classroom culture of the United Sates and Europe, I found this new environment rather uncomfortable at first. Older children may find it harder to adapt, both to a new culture and to a new language, but since I was only ten years old, I settled in quickly. Once I get used to the Korean culture, not only did I start to feel embarrassed asking questions in class but I also began to feel a bit out of place, knowing that I was different. The feeling got worse after I moved to Japan.
Even though have lived abroad for most of my life, I consider myself Japanese through and through, since my parents taught me a lot about Japanese culture, morals, injunctions and many other aspects. I remember once when, my teacher asked me the meaning of a famous Japanese proverb which threw me off completely. She told me, “This question is in fact quite easy and kind of common sense. However, even if you are not able to answer, it is understandable; you are from a different culture. ” My face burned with shame. At that moment, failure to answer that simple question made me feel like I was a failure at everything.
My sense of industry, nurtured at home was shattered here by an insensitive teacher. Since then, I have developed a degree of glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public or of trying to speak. This is another instance of Erikson’s Stage four – “Industry versus Inferiority”. The image of the classical ballerina is traditionally that of classical ballet itself – graceful, poise, sophisticated and “very European”. I had been taking classical ballet for more than thirteen years and my mind was too consumed with ballet to think of any other purpose in life.
I took part in Prix de Lausanne ballet competition in Switzerland, and won a prize as well as a scholarship to ballet school. I decided to attend Paris Opera Ballet School in France when I was 14 years old. I have always admired the long limbs of European dancers, gracefully moving to rhythmic music. Dancing, particularly ballet teaches young people to be highly self-critical. Dancers, from a very early age, are continually corrected by their teachers and are trained to focus on self-reflection as a means of observing and correcting one’s mistakes, over and above perfecting technique.
From my experiences, I observed that ballet puts dancers under considerable pressure to be thin and attain the perfect figure. I recall one instance when my ballet teacher criticized my appearance in front of others. As I see it, relentless attack commonly forms grounds for denial. As we learned in our class, in psychology, denial is a concept originating from the psychodynamic theories of Sigmund Freud. The initial denial protects that person from the emotional shock. According to the reference, “Denial is one of many defense mechanisms. It entails ignoring or refusing to believe an unpleasant reality.
Defense mechanisms protect one’s psychological wellbeing in traumatic situations, or in any situation that produces anxiety or conflict. However, they do not resolve the anxiety-producing situation and, if overused, can lead to psychological disorders. ” The assumption I unearth here is that denial affects one’s internal thoughts and feelings. In my case, I was taught that average weights are unacceptable in any situation in the ballet world. At that point in time, I was controlling my weight, keeping it at around 85 pounds. I was already thin but I was still asked to “trim down”.
Therefore I practiced for hours on end on a daily basis, pushing myself to my physical and psychological limit to achieve professional success. Essentially, I stopped eating and my weight plummeted from 85 to 70 pounds. I ended up developing an eating disorder, but outwardly I received continual praise. Nobody knew I was starving myself to look the way I did. It did not take long before I dropped out of ballet school because of anorexia nervosa. My parents sent me to an eating disorder facility, where I stayed for more than six months. I was obsessed with ballet and it was not easy for me to see myself with the objectivity others did.
I had not learned the appropriate mechanisms to deal with stressful situations. In the eating disorder facility, my therapist assisted me in examining my thoughts and behaviors and devised strategic ways effect the necessary lifestyle changes. However, even when the labels are accepted, I did not realize the severity of my eating disorder and anorexia slowly shifted to bulimia. I had been semi-phobic of solid food for years. Every time I started eating, I could not control myself and I just kept eating. I then hated myself after every episode of binging. Purging therefore made me better and gave me a sense of control.
I was always telling myself “I do not need to do this”. Then I would look in the mirror and realize that I would get extremely fat if the food did not get out of my system; I just could not help it. Due to such conditions, I would find it extremely difficult to manage my school schedule as well as my coursework. I had to attend weekly counseling sessions for treatment of psychological symptoms due to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. To be honest with you, I was desperate because I could not see myself living free of an eating disorder within one and a half years.
Looking back at my life script, I see how the intersection of my life and history shaped my variable perceptiveness of good and bad. I have met many different people who have played an important role in helping shape my personality, thereby making significant changes in my life. I still have ongoing personal issues regarding weight and body size. The perception from my ballet teachers that average body weights are not acceptable has slowly been ingrained in my mind over a period of fourteen years. Consequently I still have a phobia of taking too many calories, and I cannot eat three meals a day.
In addition to that, I still harbor a bit of guilt after each meal, but at least I have learnt to enjoy my meals. Eating disorders leave one very confused. I got through a lot of different things and I believe I have gained more depth as human being. I am pretty sure that this now the time to take my growth to the next level. I got an acceptance letter from UC two weeks ago and building up a new career is one way of coping with feelings of inadequacy. Now that I have spilled my secret life script, I am able to see myself more objectively.