Boundaries to Our Truths

Last week I presented at the National Dance Education Organization conference. I attended sessions which spoke to my soul, my curiosity, and my biases. Some sessions fed me. Some infuriated me. All were useful.

As typical with attending any conference at which you see faces from your past, present, and future- conversations traverse over the landscape of professional and personal histories, learnings, and practices. As my career has deviated from a pretty singular trajectory to a portfolio career model, there is a common chord which keeps sounding:

There are boundaries to our truths.

The experiences we have enjoyed may fit inside our personal space but the outlying experiences- those we may not have enjoyed, help us define those spaces.

Parallel to this, I have been mulling over the differences between industry and the field.

As my work veers onto the fringe of dance, pretty clearly planted in the world of somatics, with access to the fitness industry— I feel pulled into several directions which can be confusing and exhilarating.

The pressures include: where is my voice needed, what should it be saying, who am I saying it to, why, and what is the best platform by which to share the message.

When I fixate on being a part of an industry, I move further away from my professionally personal truth.

I start worrying about future contracts, sustainable revenue, networking, profile and image, status. I fall into the trap of comparing, mimicking, and burning out. All of it comes down to, “am I doing it right?” This is my folly, of course, because there is no doing it right. 

When I start stressing over future contracts (which has kept me in jobs which didn’t serve me), I forget myself. Rather, I am living on the fringe of my truth. When I leave the security I have now and start worrying about what happens when…. I leave my truth and start grasping. This is where I get myself into trouble. (I heard an interview of Ina Garten in which she shared that a friend told her ‘Type A people tend to try to solve the problem from outside the pond but it doesn’t work, you just have to dive in’.)

See, the advantage of being “A Hybrid” as I define it, one who doesn’t fit neatly into one professional category and whose body of work/job experiences demonstrate an array of professional intersections, is that I can make connections between ideas which many other people don’t make.

The downside is that I can connect EVERYTHING and it can be hard to develop clear pathways and I get sidetracked by what I am “supposed” to be doing. There is no “supposed to”, there is just what is.


These are the moments to return to my truths. I have landed on five.
1. Live a beautiful life. (I have a clear image of what this means to me personally/ professionally). In a word, this can be reduced to Make.
2. Let your curiosity be your contribution.
3. Write.
4. Move in community.
5. Share.

These help me remember the larger picture. Professionally, this means I value contributing to the field more than I feel compelled to be a part of any one industry. So my platform will likely look different than those of other people in a given industry- it needs to fit me. I enjoy writing more than speaking, sharing over selling, teaching over showing. Moving tells me what to write. Writing tells me how to move others.

When I operate from this list of truths, I don’t really have to worry about next contracts or sustainable revenue because opportunities come. It is hard to remember that sometimes, but it has always been true.

My truth can bump up against or intermingle with the truths of others. The only gains are deeper understanding of what is inside that space and the location of my edge.

How is your hybridization going? What is your list of truths?


Author: Heather Vaughan-Southard

HEATHER VAUGHAN-SOUTHARD is a connector. She uses somatic engagement and creativity to inspire change in people, perspectives, and practices within classrooms, therapy rooms, and boardrooms. She is a presenter in the fields of education, social-emotional learning, somatic practice, and the arts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: