I’m not in Dubai forever. Let’s start right there. It’s just for a little bit, maybe like, three or four months. And I am for sure coming back to LA afterwards.
But since I haven’t made a personal post in months, let me tell you why I left Los Angeles so abruptly and made the decision to go within a few days.
Los Angeles is my favorite city on Earth
To me, it’s the best place to grow as a dancer, I feel supported and home since I’m surrounded by likeminded people who gives a sh*t about the things I give a sh*t about.
I’ve never felt so seen in my life. The weather is unmatched and the palm trees make me feel like I’m forever on vacation. Americans are fun as hell and to them there are legit no limits to what you can achieve or create in life. Even after living there for about three years, I still feel like it’s a fun, diverse, crazy pretend-city in a play-pretend entertainment industry where nothing is actually real.
But let me tell you what’s very real
The glorified “hustle, grind and #TeamNoSleep”-culture is real.
Constant rejection is real.
Self-doubt by being surrounded by the best of the best is real.
Imposter syndrome even when you booked the job is real.
Low-paying jobs and sky-high rent is real.
Mental health issues are real.
The anxiety of freelance, not having a schedule and not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from is real.
… but somehow I still love it.
It probably sounds absolutely f*cking insane, but I love an environment like that. It pushes me, it motivates me and I cannot even begin to explain how much self-trust it creates.
Because despite the abovementioned, we’re still doing it. I don’t know how, but we’re doing it. We’re still making rent, we always find loopholes and ways to make it work, we’re still going to those auditions with hundreds of dancers, we’re still hopeful, still training, still getting back up and pushing. We’re still smiling through it because if dance teaches you anything it’s: “life is tough but so are you”.
What rejection taught me in LA
I am the last person to compliment myself, but the thick skin I’ve grown in that city is incredible to me. I’m sure, if you look at any dancer’s journey, if you just saw 2% of what actually happens on a weekly basis, you’d say: “okay, wow”. And you’d most also say: “um, what the actual f*ck”.
I’m not your average affirmation-girlie, but I do have one simple sentence that I found helpful to repeat to myself over and over again. It’s: “I can do hard things”. I repeat it to myself in class, at the gym, at auditions and when I’m in a room where I have to deal with big egos and people who makes me uncomfortable.
I can do hard things. But I realized that you don’t have to do hard things all the time.
“Yes, I thrive under pressure, but I also thrive under sunshine, under joy, under warm hugs and creativity. I can thrive under most things – I’d much rather thrive under love.”
I read this quote earlier this year and it really stuck with me.
No matter if your name is Kobe Bryant or if you’re George from the local liqour- store – everyone’s nervous system has a limit to how much stress, pressure and uncertainty it can take.
You’ll never be able to compare your limits to other people’s limits, because:
1. It’s so freaking individual
2. Admitting you’re reaching your own limits is usually being portraied as “being weak”, so you won’t see anyone post about it on social media.
But it’s not weak, it’s self-awareness.
Sure, you can always work on your mental game by exposing yourself to high-pressure environments, meditate, take those cold showers, read the books, listen to the podcasts, stay disciplined and learn how your brain works. I think that’s a terriffic idea.
But you gotta respect your boundaries too.
I slowly reached my limit.
I felt it when I constantly woke up at 5am with what felt like actual adrenaline in my body, jumping out of bed to get on the metro to the gym. When I never checked in on how I was feeling because that mattered less to me than the goals in my head. When I filled up every second of the day with tasks and training, the way I couldn’t rest, the way I only felt good enough when I was productive, the way I felt like I was in a constant state of worry about legit anything. Finances, career, my family…
But most importantly, I saw how I reached my limit by the way it affected my physical health.
I started getting sick more and more often.
So here’s what I wanted
I knew, I didn’t want a break. I didn’t want a vacation or to take time off. I wanted to keep dancing, rehearsing, training and doing what I love, but I wanted to get rid of the uncertainty for while. I wanted to give my nervous system a break and I knew that it would require 3 things:
- A set schedule
- A monthly set salary
I honestly wanted to go back to China and go on tour like we did back in 2016-17, but with their political climate, that’s just not an option at all right now.
I also knew, I wanted to get out of LA for a second. So when the Dubai-contract was offered out of the blue, I was like, yes.
How is a new country and new people less stress, you ask?
I know, I know. Moving to The Emirates where I’ve never been and know zero people in a different culture doesn’t sound calming, does it. But it is to me though. And that’s my main point: You have to do whatever feels right to you. Gut feelings are guardian angels.
..So I moved.
I share a lot on Instagram (@mathilde.veje) and on TikTok (@matilda.veje) , but overall it’s been so good these first 20 days. The show is super cool, we’re still in rehearsals, but are gonna perform 6 nights a week every week. I’m challenged dancewise in a different way – not the way where the dance moves are super hard, but in the way where you have to learn 12 choreographies in a very short amount of time.
The apartment is great, there’s a pool, a gym, it’s like 25 degrees celsius, we’re exploring the city (I’m excited to go to the desert and ride some big ATV’s at some point!) and the dancers are just super nice. It reminds me of our cast in China where everyone was from everywhere. We have dancers from Italy, Spain, Latvia, Slovenia, Cuba etc.
I had zero expectations coming here, but honestly I’m overwhelmingly happy and calm. It’s serving it’s purpose. One more time, it just confirms that you have to listen to yourself and your body. Only you know what’s right for you.
The fear of being away
I know many people are scared of leaving LA, because of FOMO. SO many people have told me that when I return to LA after 3 months, I’ll probably have to start all over. I refuse to believe that. Nah homie, it’s 3 months, it’s not a year or two. I still have my friends, the studios are still standing, I still have my room and my agency. And I believe that I’m gonna come back with even more motivation and a happier heart.