Backstage, perched on her tiptoes, neck stretched long and eyes bright, a young girl peered in amazement at the beauty and grace before her. The purple-hued lighting, the sparkle, the poise, all reflected upon Wendy Whelan as she danced in and out of the wings of the Sugar Plum Pas. Watching Ms. Whelan was like getting a glimpse into her own future, or so she hoped.
That girl? That was me at 10 years old. I grew up with one dream and from age ten to twenty-two, I worked hard to have the opportunity to dance professionally. The purpose of this story is not to promote the idea that hard work allows for all our dreams to come true. Sometimes that’s the case but sometimes dreams change even as we pursue them. I share this because I had a dream I grew very attached to, dedicating much of my life to it, all for it not to happen in every way I hoped. Despite the defeat and doubt I felt along the way, I miraculously found the courage to try new things. And in simply saying yes to newness I discovered skills that have shaped me into who I am. And that’s the real dream. To be who I was made to be.
Dreams are unique creatures and how we feed them determines how they grow. Many dancers identify solely as one thing and that is, a dancer, but we discredit ourselves and even our artform when we do so. Nurturing our other hobbies, talents, and gifts allows us to grow as people and it allows us to contribute so much more to our dancing. We relate to the world around us and therefore, better relate to our audiences who take in the stories we tell and the emotions we bring with it.
I know trying new things is intimidating, especially when we feel we have passed the mark set by time, but we are often more capable than we realize. We assume that by a certain age we should have accomplished various life goals, like graduating from college, a career, marriage, and a family. There is not a “one size fits all” course for life. Yes, that would actually be easier, but just like our dreams, we are unique creatures and we have already set ourselves up for failure in believing that time is against us. Or that we can only have one dream. I think we must continue to dream, continue to alter how we approach life and our purpose in it. It is never too late to become who you are. What a silly thought anyway. How could we possibly be late for our own fate? So, gather up your courage, for it’s never too late for trying something new.