I started taking tap lessons my sophomore year of high school. You read that correctly. I started dancing at 15 years old when most start at age three. As you can imagine, I had some catching up to do. While deciding to start tap was one of the best decisions I ever made, it was also one of the most challenging experiences I've had up to this point, and it taught me innumerable, valuable lessons. But I numbered some anyway, because innumerable is pretty difficult to write.
1. Failure Is Part Of The Process
As a perfectionist, this was a hard pill to swallow. If I can't master something in one sitting, I'm usually done with it in one sitting. Learning basic choreography took what seemed like forever initially, not to mention I was years behind everyone in my class. It took me three months and countless unsuccessful attempts to master a basic flap. Failing again and again taught me that failure really is part of the learning process, and, though bitter initially, it makes victory all the sweeter.
2. Ego Is Your Only Enemy
Three years of tap allowed me to admit something to myself I couldn't do previously: I'm a horrible dancer. That's right, I can't dance! I was the worst dancer and by far the slowest learner in my class, but in the end, I didn't care; I loved dancing, and that's all that mattered. I almost quit after my first few classes because I was just awful at it. But I was supposed to be. I decided to stick it out my first year, and I'm so glad I did, otherwise I wouldn't have found something I really loved to do just because my ego couldn't handle me not being good at something immediately.
3. Grace Isn't What I Thought It Was
Dancing is supposed to make you more graceful (or so the common stereotype persists). While I will say I'm a little more able on my feet, I still trip over dust. In my defense, I didn't take ballet. Anyway, dance taught me that grace isn't never tripping over your own feet; it's tripping over your own feet and turning it into a piece of choreography you wouldn't have performed otherwise. Grace is winging it when things go wrong and pretending nothing went wrong. Grace, my friends, is acting. And even I can act.
4. Art Is An Emotional Catharsis
I really see why the arts are such a fantastic outlet for stress. While I could never throw paint on a canvas like Jackson Pollock or hammer out a concerto like Mozart when I was stressed, I could strap on my shoes and scuff the floor until I was too exhausted to care anymore.
5. Anyone Can Learn If Someone Is Willing To Teach
I never would have been able to dance for the short time I was able to if it weren't for two incredibly patient, incredibly talented teachers (they know who they are). My primary teacher didn't bar me from registering despite my age and experience level (haha, zero), and she and her assistant teacher proceeded to help with whatever I needed whenever I needed it. They taught me how to do something a few years ago I never thought possible, and I'm beyond grateful for it.
The moral of the story? It's never too late to try anything. You may have to put in extra work, and it's going to be difficult, but don't give up. You'll want to, but don't. Attempting to do something badly isn't failure; failure is never attempting to try anything because you're too afraid of failing. As J.K. Rowling put it, you fail by default. Besides, you might find something you truly love doing that you wouldn't have found otherwise because you were afraid of looking stupid. Now, isn't that just a little ridiculous?