Yesterday was rough.
It seemed like I found myself saying “I can’t” not because I didn’t want to try, but because my body physically wouldn’t allow me to do the things. The sentence ended with “yet” most of the time, but still it started to feel very harrowing.
These were things I needed to be working on, things I need to improve on, and I couldn’t do them because it would shoot pain into my knee, or it’s not strong enough yet.
I felt like a failure.
It was very overwhelming.
Worst of all, I felt exposed. My teacher knew and I couldn’t just blend in and pretend I could do all these things.
I felt defeated.
But that’s not what I really want to write about today.
Work has been rough, to say I’m over it is an understatement, but I’m trying to keep a positive attitude towards it since I’m there and I need it right now. I remind myself it isn’t forever and that for now I have to make the most of it. That “this too shall pass” and all that other good stuff.
I was thinking about ballet, and how I’m in the studio five days a week now. I thought of how dancing makes me feel and the place I’ve ended up in and how wonderful it is.
I thought about the seemingly-spontaneous decision I made almost 4 years ago to pursue this childhood dream of mine of dancing en pointe. I thought of my first class and how terrified I was to even look into classes, let alone take them. I thought of those first months and panicking in the corner at not being able to do seemingly simple things.
I thought about my first performance.
How overwhelmed I was at some of the steps, and how I would spend hours at home going over it until I had it. How I would search the internet for tips and tricks and explanations. How my parents didn’t want to come and it made me really sad.
I thought about my first recital. How I sat out recital my first year there, and was excited about it my second year there. I thought of the corrections my teacher gave me there that are second nature now. I thought of the photo day and all the people I’m friends with now. I thought of how my parents complained about seeing me dance that time too, especially about the parking and not having good seats cause they left too late like it was my fault.
I thought of my second holiday showcase. How I got to help with the babies and it was madness. I thought of how I decided then to dance for myself and no one else and if my parents or anyone else didn’t want to come I wouldn’t make them because it just makes me feel guilty for not being understanding of them not wanting to come or whatever. I thought of how I had to rush home after work to change to get to the studio in time. How I was always perpetually early to beat traffic so they started having me assist the baby ballet/tap classes.
I thought of Bailando and getting to take pictures and really committing to this.
I thought of my first pair of convertible tights.
I thought of asking my dance teacher if getting en pointe by the next year was feasible and her being uncertain.
I thought of the next year and how I was given the permission form two weeks before my 25th birthday (which was my bucket list goal–before 25.)
I thought of little arms around my neck as I took a group picture with my class I helped teach.
I thought of how my family didn’t come to my last dance recital at my old studio.
I thought of my studio shutting down.
I thought of how harrowing it was to find a new studio. How scary it was. How no one spoke to me when I was there so I would bring a book and pretend to be invisible as to not draw attention to myself. I thought of how out of my depth I felt and that they must be judging me in class. That they probably thought I should be better than I am and that I was a joke. How I felt I have to work harder to prove myself since I “don’t look like a dancer.” I thought of how I felt when I saw dancers who were good and not stick thin, that I could do it, too.
I thought of watching Nutcracker by myself because no one would go with me and my friends kinda sucked then but tried to make me feel like I was the sucky one (anyway) and how certain dancers would stand out to me.
I thought of my first Nutcracker auditions, and how the one friend I knew encouraged me. How I had to audition with the younger kids cause I knew my pointe was next-to-nothing and there’s no way I could keep up with the older group, even though I seemed to have the director fooled.
I thought of the disappointment in casting, but how I was going to make the most of it. How I wasn’t going to let other people make me feel like I was lesser for my casting. How I wouldn’t let my family’s comments on how I’m “only in the show for a minute and a half” bother me and not pressure them into coming to see me, even though it’d be my first performance en pointe.
I thought of how I rolled my ankle at auditions and how I thought of giving up all together since I couldn’t find good shoes. That it must be me. How I won a pointe shoe fitting contest through Capezio that changed everything.
I thought of my first Nutcracker season, and being sad it was over.
I thought of Oz and auditioning with 5s and wanting to quit again and how the entire show turned around for me. How I became friends with all these girls and how the dancers that stood out to me when I watched Nutcracker alone were now my friends and some of my biggest encouragers.
I thought of my first recital en pointe. How my parents came, got free parking, and afterwards told me, “you looked like a real ballerina up there!”
I thought of where I am now. How I’m at the studio 5 days a week without rehearsals. How Nutcracker casting is pending and I have no idea how I’ll be able to pull it off. I thought of the mom in the studio yesterday that told me, “If your parents ever don’t want you, I do.” I thought of the support that I get and how people believe in me. How people like me. And how weird and wonderful it all is.
And in all of this, I thought of what my life would be like if I had never taken that first step. If I had never faced the fear of the unknown and taken that first class. If I had given up all those times before. If I wouldn’t have pushed through.
I would leave work, and go home, and be by myself and probably miserable. I wouldn’t have near as many friends. I’d feel out of place since most the friends in my life are in different stages. How I would have nothing to take away the sting of how terrible work makes me feel. Nothing to strive for. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to feel accomplished with. Nothing to dedicate myself to. It would be like walking around sick with no medication to help.
Dance is my medication for the pain life gives me.
Dance is the sanity in my crazy world.
Dance is the clarity in a place that doesn’t make sense.
Dance is the comfort in my life of tragedy.
Dance is my friend when I’m alone.
What would my life be without dance?
Shallow. Limited. Insecure. Lonely. Sad.
Ballet has taught me, and helped me grow as a person. It has lead me to meeting wonderful people and having experiences I carry in my heart always. Ballet gives expression to the depths of me no one knows.
People in my life, those reading this, those who don’t even know about it–they don’t know the full me. The tragedy, the pain, the difficult things I’ve gone through. They see me in the after. They see me in my element, in the happiest state of being. Some of them know of hardships I have faced, and instead of treating me like a freak or some celebrity or something stupid, they walk beside me.
Ballet has given me things I could never replace or even known to have hoped for.
So on days like yesterday when everything feels overwhelming, and I find that thought in the back of my mind coming to surface of, “Why do I even do this? I’m never going to get past this. Who am I kidding?” I remember all the beautiful things the last (almost) four years has given me.
And I smile.
And say, “Try it one more time.”
It’ll all work out. It may not look the way I want it to, but it’ll solve itself. I’ll figure something out and I’ll keep fighting.