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When You Don’t Desire Dance

What does it mean, exactly? To not desire dance…

I suppose it means something a little different to everyone. What comes to mind?

Maybe, you don’t desire dance when you’re spiking a flaming fever, curled up on the couch in a fetal position – tissues and tea at your side, complete with a loving momma.

Maybe you don’t desire dance when you’ve had a monstrous day at school that seemed to never end; it exhausted you beyond what you thought possible.

Or maybe you don’t desire dance when in your mind, you tell yourself that you can’t do it.

You can’t point your foot harder – it’s not arched enough.

You can’t stay in relevé any longer – your calves are too weak.

You can’t get that arabesque higher – your muscles won’t support it.

You can’t make that extra pirouette – you’ll never be a good turner.

You can’t look in the mirror with confidence during a center combination because all this time, you’ve told yourself, ‘I’m never going to get it’.

But here’s the thing with the ‘I can’t’: they start out slow and weak. You don’t pay much attention to them, because they’re not that loud. But when you leave them alone, those lies grow bigger and bigger. One combination at a time, you start to feel the fear of failure. You do your best to shove them out. Sometimes you’re successful. Other times, not so much. But when you make room for them, when they begin to take up residence in your mind, they start to get really comfortable. Pretty soon, all you know anymore are the words ‘I can’t’.

The human mind is quite fascinating, isn’t it? You’ve heard the phrase, ‘You are what you eat.’ right? Well in that sense, you’re also exactly what you think. Your negative thoughts eventually become your words. Your words turn into actions, and soon, your actions turn into habits.

Do you know that it takes an average of twenty-one days to form a habit? We all have our routines, don’t we? Maybe you’ve formed your own habit like walking your dog every day, exercising more, eating healthy foods, or choosing to spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, I bet you can think of something right now that you do on a daily basis because you’ve decided you need more of it in your life.

Did you catch that word? Decided. A decision starts with you – in your mind. No one else can make you think the way you do. Nobody can be that voice that tells you to get your tennis shoes on and go for a run even when your body is already aching from the day before. Nobody can pick up the pencil and solve those math problems when your burning eyes beg to stay open. Nobody can walk into that studio day after day and take the dance class for you.

It’s up to you. And guess what? You can.

You can reach toward your toes a little bit more.

You can spot yourself in the mirror just one more time.

You can perform that confusing combination gracefully across the floor.

You can kick your head in a grand battement (yes, this is a dancer’s goal!).

When you mess up, or hold your arm incorrectly, or forget the next step, or turn your foot in terribly, it’s okay, because success is built on failure. Without these imperfections, wouldn’t we all be monotonous little robots, incapable of individuality and character? What would we have left to attain if there were no goals in sight? What would make us unique?

Perfection is boring. Persistence is inspiring.

Always move forward. Always have a goal.

I once heard a story of a young boy who had a dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Beneath that, were his hopes of helping those less fortunate than himself. He grew up, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father. He faced trial after trial. He learned painful, expensive lessons that knocked him down one-too-many times. He had a mountain of financial debt that seemed to only grow larger. Though he continuously failed, he never stopped trying. He never told himself that he couldn’t do it. He listened to every motivational speaker he could find. He read every book on success that he could get his hands on. He wrote numerous, inspiring messages on notecards, placing them all over his room, all over his vehicle, in his work-space, and anywhere in between. In his shower, he hung a dry erase board that listed his goals. At the top of his list, he wrote, ‘Become a millionaire’.

Maybe it sounds silly to us. We all joke about being a millionaire one day, thinking that it’s never going to be possible. Well, day in and day out, he read that message to himself. Day in and day out, he pushed on, telling himself that he could do it – that he will become a millionaire.

Well guess what? He actually reached his goal. He did become a millionaire. He paid off his debt. He tackled a company of his own. He found the success that he knew he’d achieve. His parents were proud. He was proud.

But he didn’t stop there. He erased the number one goal on his dry erase board and replaced it with a new one. Want to know what it was?

‘Become a billionaire’.

Inspiring, isn’t it?

Don’t ever give up on your dream. Whether you choose to turn dance into a career, or just dance because it fills you with joy, don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t do it. Maybe you dream of becoming a surgeon, a lawyer, a teacher, a missionary, an actor, a singer, an artist, a stay-at-home-parent, a baker, a police officer, an author, an engineer, a barista, a business owner…

Whatever it is – run toward it in your own, incredible way! That’s the beauty of how we’re made: imperfectly irreplaceable. Set goals. Make your list. Conquer your obstacles. Chase your dreams.

And don’t forget that when you get knocked down, to brush yourself off, straighten your skirt, stick your bobby pin back in, and smear a genuine smile on your face. Because you positively, absolutely can.

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

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