You have 160 characters to describe yourself in your Twitter bio. As an aspiring branding specialist, I care a lot about how my profile comes across (hence the profile picture change at least 3 times a week).
So, how am I going to position myself… Aspiring journalist? Okay, that’s what I am. Aspiring writer? So hipster, yeah that definitely has to be in there. Aspiring public relations professional? That sounds nice, add it. Ballerina? Well, duh.
This piece of writing has taken me awhile to put together, and even longer to actually press “Publish.” Not because I’m worried about people reading it, not because it’s an end all, but because it’s me coming to a major life realization. Not because it’s eloquently written or has any profound ideas, but because it’s not something I was fully ready to write, and I don’t know if I ever will be.
To be fair, this topic requires a book to truly express the immense meaning it has in my life, but this is a blog and I would lose more interest than I already have, so here it goes.
I began dancing when I was around three years old. My mom took me to the Nutcracker as a toddler, and I was (so she says) enthralled by it-all of it. Not many children that young are that captivated by a performance with no words or audience interaction. So from there, she put me in ballet and “the rest is history.”
As I grew and time went on, ballet became more and more apparent in my life.
Dance wasn’t a hobby. Dance wasn’t an extracurricular I did just because. Dance was my passion and my dream.
Hours were spent in class and rehearsals. Summers were spent on the East Coast at different professional training schools. Sacrifices were made, joy was had.
Along the way, I was told that I could, should and would be a professional ballet dancer. Some days, that is what I wanted with all of my heart. Others, it wasn’t at all.
I can see now that amidst the praise, the criticism, the corrections, the passion, the love and the discipline- I slowly made decisions that were leading me to the reality of my future.
I first made the decision to not move away to attend a performing arts high school in pursuit of my dream, in exchange for a normal high school life with my friends and family. I then chose to go to college directly after high school, a school that didn’t offer a dance major at all.
Looking back, it seems as though I always knew.
It’s not easy to give up on something you hold so near to your heart. It’s not easy to give up on a dream that is so idolized by yourself and others, one that if you just tried a little harder, would be right in your grasp.
It’s not easy to move on from one of your passions.
Since coming to school, I have danced with different companies around town, performed here and there, and taken classes when I was able. But it was never enough.
It’s not easy to get back into something you were once so well-versed in. It’s not easy to try to do something you were always able to do, and feel yourself falling short of your old standards.
The other day, I looked back at my writing from the past few years. There remained one constant in all of my desires for self-improvement. I was constantly wishing I would get back into dance, full-on. I was constantly hoping that I could train every day, lose weight, strengthen my body and get back to where I used to be and surpass it.
Goals were set, and goals weren’t met.
So why didn’t I just do it?
It’s not easy, that’s why.
I wasn’t willing to work for it, to sacrifice my collegiate experience and everything it has been in order to train for that dream. I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices I needed to make for that passion.
I always had an excuse. Whether it was money, time or whatever else- I always had a reason to not work for it.
Maybe it’s because I am actually scared of failing, maybe it’s not my ultimate dream, maybe it’s a little bit of both.
It’s not easy to admit that although ballet is something I will always love, something I will always cherish and something that will always be a part of my life, it isn’t my entire life.
It never has been.
It’s not easy to let go of something that has been held on a pedestal by myself and others for so long. It’s not easy to let the possibility of a certain life flee from the reality of your future. It’s actually really hard.
I don’t think I’ll ever be truly happy with myself until I accept where I am headed and fully commit to the path that I have chosen. I will always not be enough, I will always have an unchecked to do. Without accepting my life for what it is, I will continue to set myself up for failure day-in and day-out, because it’s easier to do that than to admit to myself that I have given up.
I still have ballet workouts scheduled into my planner that I never do. I still have the goal of making an audition tape to send to companies, even though I probably won’t. I still do it, and I still fail.
And maybe, it’s because although I’m scared to let it go, so scared in fact that as I sit here typing this my heart actually hurts (I haven’t felt this in awhile, this is not very fun), I’m more scared to admit that it’s not really my dream and it’s not what I’m going to do. I’m scared to admit that I have found different passions and a different life path.
I will always be a ballerina. I will always have a torn identity. I will always wonder. And, in all honesty, I will probably always think “what if.” Simply because I’m not ready, simply because it’s easier to do that than accept it (although I think this piece of writing might be my first step), simply because I really do wonder “what if.”
As I struggled with my “what if,” I think I sub-consciously decided that it was either dance every day, or don’t dance at all- potentially the root of what fueled my disappointment and failed goals.
All or nothing with ballet? Um, no thanks, because at the end of the day, when you realize your life has taken a different turn and that amidst school, work and everything else, you actually can’t give it your all, then you are left with nothing, and you realize that’s not what you wanted at all.
Your biggest regret will follow you around forever, until you decide to change it or move on, although I think I’m choosing both. Choosing to incorporate it into my life- not as I had always imagined maybe, but the picture in your head of the way life should be, could be, is not always the most beautiful possibility.
Ballet will always be a part of my life, and that’s the way it should be. But accepting the future and embracing life for what it is, accepting the decisions I have made, realizing my new passions and moving forward is something that I need to work on, and I will.
Maybe I will audition for different companies and it’ll work out, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll teach dance in my future, maybe I won’t. However ballet will be in my life in some form, always, because without it, I wouldn’t be me ( and my Twitter bio would be much too bland).