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Piece #1 - Untitled
Sweating during dance rehearsal, I felt worn out. I was tired. One big room, one tiny fan. Was it even turned on? I cannot even remember. My body was stressed out as much as my mind was overwhelmed. My dance instructor Mrs. B was asking me to do a move I was not sure I could do. Feeling anxiety race through my veins, I realized that I had only a few days to get this move down so that I could perform it correctly onstage. An antagonizing thought entered my mind, “Only a few days.” How on earth was I supposed to perfect my performance in just a few days?
I sat, exhausted, on the dance floor. Heavily breathing and skin caked with moisture, a frown could be seen in my eyes. The room was hot, sticky. The room not only sucked out fresh air, but also my willpower and belief that I would be able to accomplish this goal. My fellow dancers came up to me, telling me that I would be all right and that I would be able to do it. Rae also believed in me. She helped choreographed the dance, and she had faith in me that I would do my best. I have always looked up to her. She was a senior when I was a freshman. We were on a different dance team together, but I knew she was good at dancing. She was really good. And I looked up to her because she was so kind and patient when it came to dance. She helped me to learn the move, which was called a toe rise. Kneeling on my knees, I was supposed to stand up without moving my feet, without using my hands, without assistance from anyone. Her intense, yet kind, blue eyes studied me for a second, as she explained the process to me. She had a sense of seriousness in her face, but it was mixed with a friendliness which I love about her. She never got frustrated with me for struggling. If she did, she never showed it. She was more patient than I was.
After working on the toe rise for a bit, we decided to move on and continue working on other parts of the dance. I could not help feeling frustrated and ashamed for two reasons. I was frustrated that I could not seem to be doing things right, and I was also frustrated that I was so bothered by it.
A couple days passed and we had another rehearsal. I had practiced the toe rise at home, getting a little better at it, but not succeeding very often. There were small moments in rehearsal when I would get so close to actually accomplishing the toe rise, but I would fall just before I had finished the move. With two rehearsals and very minimal luck, I was starting to feel even more frustrated.
Two more days passed and Friday came. The performance was that night at Evening in the Furnace. Our group met in the afternoon and Rae and Mrs. B asked me how I was doing on the toe rise.
“Well, to be honest, I still haven’t quite got it,” I replied, nervous as to how they would react.
“You can do it, I know you can. You’re trying really hard. But you’ll be able to do it. Would you feel better if we changed it so you would do an alternative move instead?” Mrs. B was asking me from the middle of the auditorium.
I stood onstage. The lights facing me, I was nearly blinded. I squinted to look out to where I thought Mrs. B was sitting. “No, I really want to get this.”
But even as we practiced onstage, I struggled to actually do the move correctly. Again, the other dancers would come up to me, give me a hug, and tell me that I would get it and that they believed in me. Why was it that everyone believed in me more than myself?
An hour remained before the show would start, and the dancers were getting ready downstairs in the Fine Arts Center. Everyone was getting into their costumes, putting on their make up, fixing their hair. Me? I was still trying to do the toe rise. By then, I had bruises all over my knees, and I was running out of breath from trying so hard. I was so ready to give up, and I questioned myself for not going with the alternative move.
The time came when we were all waiting backstage for the evening to start. Mrs. B was out in front of the stage, introducing the evening and explaining to the audience what they would be seeing that night. I stood backstage, feeling the arms of my friends wrap around me. Huddled in a circle, a few of us began to pray. After praying as a group, I decided to pray by myself. Instead of standing still, praying with my eyes closed, I was pacing back and forth, jumping up and down. As I prayed, I realized I needed to come to grips with something: I needed to give everything up to God. Sure, I’d heard that phrase before, perhaps a million times, but it has always been a hard thing for me to do. I needed to give up my anxiety and worry that I would not be able to do the toe rise. I prayed, whether silently or in a pleading whisper I cannot recall.
“God, please just take this. I know that You have everything under control,” I began. “You are so much bigger than everything and I know that You have this in the palm of Your hand. If you want me to do the move correctly, Your strength will work through me. If it isn’t meant to happen, it won’t. But I’m trusting You that whatever happens will be for Your glory and according to Your will.”
As soon as I finished praying, this sense of peace came upon me. Oh sure, I have always read about that in books – how people will pray and then all of a sudden feel better. But I truly did get this sense that everything was going to be all right. And whether it was God speaking or a voice in my head, I heard the words, “You are going to do it.” I felt this comfort and assurance that things would turn out just fine.
As I performed the dance, I let go of the worry and just truly danced from my heart. The toe rise was at the end of the dance, it was the last move I would make before the dance was over. It is all so fuzzy in my mind what I was thinking at that time. I do not remember stressing about it or even doing it. I just remember the end product, when I found myself standing up in the finished stance. I did not find myself on the ground, but instead I found that I had done the move correctly. The crowd applauding, the lights shining down on me, it was one of the best feelings in the world. I knew then and there that giving my everything to God was one of the best things I can do.