As a young girl I dreamed of being a ballerina, so my mom enrolled me in dance class when I was in first grade. Little did I know, the years to follow would teach me many valuable life lessons. Through all of the long nights spent at the studio, the constant dancing everywhere and the adrenaline rush of recital, I was learning more than just dance.
1. Dance taught me be to be passionate.
My dance teachers constantly demonstrated a strong passion for what they were doing, and they, without fail, put passion into each and every dance move that they did. While they were demonstrating their own passion for dance, they were encouraging us to do the same. The passion we had for dance was going to help us become more passionate about other aspects of our life; our faith, schoolwork, family, etc.
2. Dance taught me the value of teamwork.
My dance teachers were constantly challenging me and my fellow dancers to become the best dancers that we could be. While we all had our individual strengths and weaknesses, we all had to work together to make a dance piece come together. Each of us brought our own little part to the dance, but it was up to us to take the choreography we were given and make all of our parts work together. Without team work, there would just be a bunch of random pieces dancing on stage, rather than a story being told. This teamwork is something that can and will be carried over to many other areas of life such as the work force, group projects and being part of a family.
3. Dance taught me the value of hard work.
Through the random bruises that appeared on my body, the almost constant struggle of sore muscles and the frustration of that one 8-count that trips me up every time, I was learning the value of working hard. Every bruise reminded me of the hard work that I had put in the night before trying to perfect one step. The almost constantly sore muscles reminded me that I was getting that much better. And the frustration of that one 8-count reminded me of the work that I needed to put in to becoming a better dancer. This hard work would encourage me to work hard in all aspects of life.
4. Dance taught me to persevere.
If I had given up every time a difficult combination crossed my way, I would not have gotten anywhere in my dance career. The numerous run throughs of an 8-count to attempt perfection taught me that perseverance pays off. We may not have gotten the step perfectly on that particular run through, but we all knew it well enough to take it home and work on it for the next week. Just because one hard step was thrown at us, did not mean that we could just quit. We would never have a dance if we did. Our teachers gave us those challenging steps to push us to the next level. This perseverance pushed me to apply it to every part of life. To push through the hard math problems, the difficult reading assignments, and the rough patches in life.
5. Dance taught me to rise up.
Challenges are meant to be met. The difficult steps that always tripped us up, were not something that we should avoid. They were something that we should rise up and perfect. Every week I was faced with a new challenge, and that meant that I had to rise up and conquer the challenge in order to become a better dancer. This taught me to rise up in other areas of life. I had to rise up and be a better friend, a better sister/daughter and a better daughter of God.
6. Dance taught me that there is always going to be somebody better.
Everybody in the class is striving to be the best, and you may think that you are the best because you have the most training or because you have the most trophies, but there is always somebody better. But, just because there is somebody that is better than you does not mean you get to shut down and quit. Let that person be somebody that pushes you to be a better dancer. The same goes for many other aspects of life. Allow the people that are better than you to push you to become a better version of yourself.
7. Dance taught me to set goals.
"Alright, so recital is in two weeks and I still struggle with that one 8-count. That means I have to put in extra work to master that 8-count before recital." There was always something to work toward in dance. Whether it was a recital that was coming up in two weeks or you knew that your teacher was going to do a spot check on a difficult 8-count next week. Either way, you knew you had to perfect it by a certain time. These goals gave me something to work for, and it taught me to set goals for other aspects of life in which I wanted to succeed.
8. Dance taught me the importance of community.
The people in my dance class are some of the people that I spent most of my time with, especially during recital season. I learned very quickly that it is a lot easier to get along with one another if we treat each other like family. Sure, there were times that we did not exactly get along, but it was always better when we built one another up. The encouragement that came from my fellow dancers allowed me to believe in myself, and to believe that I could accomplish becoming the best dancer I could be. It is important to build one another up and to help one another reach their goals.
9. Dance taught me the importance of expressing myself.
Dance was the way I was able to express myself. When I was on stage I was able to take the dance and use it as a means of expressing myself. Having the means to express myself and knowing that those around me still loved me for who I was gave me the confidence to be who I was, outside of dance. This taught me that those who loved me the most would still love me for who I really was. I had found the confidence to be who I was.
10. Finally, dance taught me humility and grace.
Without the numerous falls, the failed attempts at different steps or the constant challenging, I would have never learned humility. Nothing is a better humility check than falling flat on your face on the landing of a jump, but all of those falls reminded me that I can always improve myself. There is always further I can go. I can always perfect a step a little more. I can always stretch a little further. Through all of these, what seemed like, fails, I was really succeeding. I was making myself a better person.