I started taking ballet classes when I was five years old. I was probably first drawn in by the bright lights and flowing costumes, but I found something greater as time went on. Despite pain, fear, and my own physical shortcomings, my love for dancing never faltered, and I carry certain bits of its wisdom with me every day.

Don't doubt what you know.

Everyone has stage fright once in a while. Even if you’re not a performer, life likes to put you on the spot, and it’s easy to freeze up. When this happens, you have little choice but to put on a brave face and venture out in front of that audience. You need to have faith in all the work you’ve done to get this far, and trust that you’re ready. When the curtain goes up, everything will fall into place if you just let your feet carry you.

Make the hardest feats look like the easiest ones.

This advice came from the instructor of a particularly difficult program, so it felt pretty ironic at the time. The man was demanding and blunt, and I was far less qualified than the other dancers, but these words proved invaluable to my survival of the four-week camp and the years that followed it. There are times when life won’t let up, but these are when maintaining composure is the most important. Any obstacle that tries your patience, focus, or courage is an opportunity to perform. With the grace of a true performer, put on a smile and keep moving—the show must go on!

You’re capable of more than you think.

Nothing pushes your boundaries more than dancing. It almost meets that classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It only shows that you can achieve anything for which you’re willing to sacrifice some time. Soon enough, you find yourself turning faster, jumping higher, and improving in every respect just because you decided to keep trying. It’s true outside the studio, too. Practice may not always make perfect, but if you put in the effort, you’ll see yourself growing by leaps and bounds.

Stay poised as you make your way through life, and you’ll see the difference that this mindset can make. Break a leg!