With the end of my senior year of dance quickly approaching, I've had time to reflect on all of the wonderful things that dancing has taught me. This art form and sport, though some may disagree, has impacted my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It molded me into the person that I am today, and there are no words eloquent enough to accurately convey my gratitude. Here are a few of the things that I've learned over the years, and my attempt at a thank you to the passion that I've grown to appreciate more and more as time passes.

To begin, it's the greatest thing you'll ever do, and I'm being completely honest. I grew up playing every sport under the sun, volleyball, softball, basketball, you name it. However at 17 years old the one thing I'm struggling to say goodbye to is dancing. This quote by A.A. Milne has never been more true: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." I don't quite know how to explain the love affair that you'll develop, but it is consuming and amazing at the same time. I didn't quite appreciate the time that I had when I had it, but looking back... dance has been such a huge part of my life and I'm grateful that I have spent so many years (in the hopes that there are a few more) doing something that I truly enjoy.

The friends that you make throughout your dance career will be some of the best of your life. Spending countless hours in the studio, many weekends away at competitions, and most summers spent together, your fellow team members become your best friends. Through the years, the inside jokes, the tears, the wins and the losses... they all become your most treasured memories. The kinds of memories that, 10 years into adulthood, you look back on, and wish that you could go back. The friends that I have made through dancing will be friends that will last a lifetime.

Personally, I think this is the most important thing that I've learned throughout my dance career. It is that dance teachers are the most amazing and inspirational people that you will ever meet. I mean, really, they're like an awesome extension of your parents at your home away from home. I have often wondered if dance teachers grasp just how much of a force they are in their students lives. If not, I hope they at least know how much they are loved and appreciated. I've been lucky enough to have had a dance teacher who pushed me to be a better dancer, young woman, and all around person in general. She always believed in us, I think, a little more than we believed in ourselves. She gave us confidence as we grew, and always gave us a shoulder to cry on if we needed one. To say that she has helped make me the young woman that I am today would be an understatement. She has had such an impact on my life and, above all, she taught me so much more than just how to dance. If anything, the one thing that I would take away from the years of dancing for her, it would be her favorite sentence: "suck it up!"

After many years, I've learned that my most favored moments have not been winning, getting a big trophy, nailing a million tricks in a dance... They're the moments that take your breath away; moments like connecting to the dance, finally getting a combination, seeing your teacher's pride on their face when you're walking off the stage. Those are the moments that I will truly remember and carry with me always.

To end, I have no words other than "thank you" for the passion that has brought me such joy. Though I truly wish I was a little girl again so that I could do all of it over, dance has molded me into the young woman I've become, and there isn't a thing that I would change; other than learning to appreciate everything that dance has given me a lot sooner. So, to dance, thank you. I won't let you down. ♡