As a little girl, my dream was to be a ballerina. Dancers were beautiful and perfect people, much like the dolls I loved to play with. When I was seven years old, I made the decision to stop taking piano lessons to make time for ballet lessons. The day my mother took me to a local ballet school to observe a class was a major turning point in my young life. I knew from the moment I saw the joy and pure bliss on the dancers' faces that I, too, wanted to dance, to experience the same carefree feelings the dancers had. I had my mother sign me up for lessons after that class.
I started taking lessons and I absolutely loved them. My classmates were really friendly, and as time went on, we grew into a close-knit "family." My ballet class was my second home. We did everything together: moved to the next advanced level, got our toe shoes, danced in recitals, and participated in Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) exams. My friends in my class made ballet so enjoyable that I thought I would always be dancing with them. It was my dream, my passion, my love, my life.
As we progressed, now taking lessons five days a week for four hours a day (instead of twice a week), the whole dancing attitude became more serious and less enjoyable. My teacher brought a scale into the studio, making us weigh ourselves so she could record our weight in her rank book. I didn't think much of this at the time, but when other changes in the classroom occurred, I was able to make sense out of it. She started to single out one of my friends and me, especially me. She would say, "Stop eating the cookies and the cakes; you could slim down a bit." I heard these words every day. I was simply crushed to hear this from my teacher. My love for ballet was diminishing quickly.
I was on the verge of crying every day in my class, but I somehow managed to hold back my tears. Seven years of ballet lessons had come to this? Hatred toward my dream? But there was no longer any dream; my dream was shattered to pieces. I told my mother what my teacher was saying and she was shocked. We had to do something to stop this, because it was corrupting my life.
My mother called my ballet teacher and had a long and painful talk with her. When she denied saying these things, I decided that it was no use arguing, since my mother and I knew that I was right. The only way to end this torture was to quit ballet. As much as it was a huge part of my life and as much as I had loved it, at fourteen years old I knew it was time to move on. It was time to leave my beloved ballet family. Why keep doing something that was no longer gratifying?
At the time, my decision felt right. I had a great deal of anger built up inside of me because of my teacher. I needed to proceed and admit that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't have been successful as a professional dancer. The first year after I quit, I felt some regret. Ballet had been a major part of my life, and leaving it so abruptly was really tough. Nevertheless, it was necessary to make this mature decision. I am proud of the choice I made. I can't imagine what my life would be like had I stuck with ballet. That rigorous lifestyle was not for me. In the words of singer Fiona Apple, "Though dreams can be deceiving, like faces are to hearts, they serve for sweet relieving when fantasy and reality lie too far apart." -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.