Speaking about having plans and deciding what to do with your life, there is always the talk about doing the 'thing' that makes you happy. There are many different formulas for creating a sense of contentment in your life. Even when you look at what other people are doing, often times there is more then what is on the surface. People make changes, and sometimes the changes seem questionable. My plan changed drastically after the first year of college, and unless we sat down for an hour long chat about why, you would probably think I was crazy.
The decision I made my senior year of high school to leave my family, dance studio, job, and sense of community in Anchorage to attend Sam Houston State University was made with the intention of becoming a psychologist, working in the criminal justice system. With SHSU being home to one of the most prominent criminal justice departments in the country, attending SHSU seemed like the most logical decision for my career. However, in the year away from home, I learned a lot about myself. For the first time in my life, my identity of ‘dancer’ had been compromised, and I felt as though I had lost a part of myself in the process. I value my education to a very high extent, and my goal has always been to earn a degree that will give me a stable career, but also a career where I would feel fulfilled.
At Sam Houston State, that was difficult. I explored my dance options deeply, but run into many obstacles. The dance opportunities I was specifically seeking in the small, college town of Huntsville, Texas, were few and far between. I have found that when investigating a decision that changes the track you have set for yourself, you cannot ignore the opportunities that are presented before you.
When I thought about how to solidify dance into my future, I decided the place to start would be to continue my work as a dance teacher at my old dance studio, the Alaska Moving Arts Center, while home for the summer. While I was in Anchorage for Christmas break, I sat down with my old dance teacher to discuss what the summer plans for the studio were. She told me about a series of changes set to occur at the studio in the next year. She was going to take over the Alaska Moving Arts Center once the old Executive Director left, and was going to need a lot of help to keep the doors open. She jokingly asked what my plans were, but I honestly couldn't think of what to tell her.
I had a very short time to make a very big decision.
My first order of business was to transfer schools. Once I got back to school in Texas, I applied to University of Alaska Anchorage, and heard back from them very quickly that I had been admitted. While back in Anchorage for spring break, I met with an advisor to speak about my major and minor. In addition to diving head-first into working in a dance studio, I was offered the change to choreograph for my high school dance team. I was also informed about collegiate level and community level dance companies of which I would have the opportunity to audition for.
I knew that I would be faced with comments such as, "You got away, why are you back?" Well, how long do you have to talk about it? The classic, "Oh, did Texas not work out for you?" No, it was actually a fantastic year. However, I was not happy with the choice I had made. So, I changed it. When I decided to make the changes, everything fell into place.