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Dancing Through Life
Each moment felt as if I was a never before seen species brought before the Supreme Court. I was a plague of innumerous dysfunctions: an utter embarrassment. These were the emotions I battled with during every dance class I attended since I had begun dancing again. If only I could have known, five years ago, the consequences I was dealing with now. But if I had, then I would not be the person I am today.
Following the footsteps of my two older sisters, I started ballet when I was three years old. Dancing was one of my greatest joys. Not only did I love it, but I had talent. My mom has said that when I was eight years old I was becoming one of the studio’s little “prima donnas.” But then one shift in direction on the road map of my life changed everything; for better or for worse I may never know.
Shortly before I turned nine years old, our family moved to a different state. Gradually, we settled in. Acquaintances quickly became friends and moving boxes were emptied as the contents began to transform our new house into a home. A couple years passed, and my little sister and I started taking ballet lessons again. I soon discovered however that it was not at all like dance as I had known it as a little girl. Through my eleven-year-old eyes, the headmistress was a wolverine anxiously awaiting a single mistake of a student so that she might prey on their failure. With each discouraging class, the memory of my old teacher flowed through my mind. But eventually the memories were not enough. I began to hate dance.
To say the least, I was developing an overwhelmingly negative attitude. Nevertheless, my mom was determined to keep us in dance. I now see that the reason for her persistence was because she wanted what was best for me. She knew how much I truly loved to dance, but I refused to change my opinion. It was after about a year and a half of my continuous complaining that my mom finally surrendered. She decided that if I wanted to quit dance then it would be my loss, and I would have to accept whatever came as a result. So I made the decision. And of course my mom was right. I now see that I chose the hardest way to learn.
Several years of my life went by without any dance experience, all the while not realizing how much I missed it, until our family moved back to the place where I grew up. After readjusting to this change, I decided I wanted to start dancing again.
However as soon as I did, I felt horribly out of place. Each class became the most embarrassing experience of my life. After missing several important years of learning steps and technique, I was incredibly behind. I was in classes with girls three or four years younger than me, and they were far more advanced than I was. This not only affected my confidence in class, but I started to become hard on myself outside of dance. It began to influence the way I viewed and valued myself in every aspect.
Along with every effort I made to comprehend and perform each step gracefully, I was doing my best to conceal my absolute embarrassment. But after class, I would release the raging waterfall of emotions to my mom. She, who had been there from day one, was now forced to endure my unceasing cries of self-pity, and also my anger for the prior decision I had made to quit. From that time until now, I have always wondered how my life would be different if I had listened to my mom and stayed with it even when things got discouraging. But I cannot change the past, so I am slowly learning to make the most of what I have now.
Today I am once again dancing. I am at the same studio as the girls I grew up dancing with, although I am in a lower level than them and other girls younger than me. They serve as a constant reminder to me of what I might have been had I never quit. However, I made the decision. Although I may live forever with a tinge of regret, I have already been able to see the beauty from ashes.
I have learned what truly makes up a person. It is not possessions, wealth, status, appearance, or even talents. Rather it is character. It is a culmination of each experience in our lives that has somehow contributed to the people we are today. Now I see that I am a much better person because of the things I have gone through. I have begun again to develop a talent, but more importantly, I am building character.
Before, I struggled with self-confidence, but now I can say that I have gained respect for myself. Because I was able to persevere through every humiliating mistake, I now know that I can do hard things. But it was not endurance alone that got me through. It was ultimately a complete change in outlook. I learned that your perspective is your reality. I realized that I was only going to be as good as I believed. Now I have a completely different view, one that brings me joy again to dance.
I am definitely still learning from this experience, but I have gained knowledge that will help me in every stage of my life. The many difficult times are the ones that have largely shaped who I am. Because of these lessons, I have learned to continue dancing through life in everything I do.