During my recent radio interview about what life as a ballerina was like, memories rushed to the surface, making it all real again. It’s been more than twenty years since I stopped dancing professionally, but it’s an experience I carry with me always. As another ex-dancer colleague recently commented, “Dancers stand out in a crowd”. There are reasons for this. Dancers are very physical creatures. After so many years of intensive training, our bodies are shaped differently, and move differently. Grace has been ingrained and at the forefronts of our brains for decades.
Although I chose to move on from ballet as a career choice, I am grateful for the years I spent dancing, for other reasons besides the obvious. So many of the things I learned as a dancer are directly applicable in every other aspect of my life, from parenting to poetry:
1.Discipline and dedication. Continuing to show up gets you where you want to go. As a freelance writer, nothing happens unless I apply myself.
2.Memory skills. As a dancer, I had to remember where and when every step happened. As a working single parent I change hats constantly, and have to remember a lot. I once counted how many items I had to remember before breakfast was even served…let’s just say it was a heckuva lot more than seven impossible things.
3.How to take care of my body. The body is how we get around in the world. If our vehicle is constantly low on gas, or runs in fit and starts, everything else we do is affected… and compromised.
4.Practice makes perfect. Skills build over time. Any time applied in a given task will pay off in the long run. This is true in everything, from hula hooping to learning to play an instrument.
5.Mistakes are learning tools. No one performs perfectly all of the time. Mistakes are part of life, and learning from them helps us to grow.
6.Always do your best. There is great peace of mind knowing that you are giving something your all. No one can ask any more of you than that.
7.Keep a good attitude. Life is a lot more fun when you approach it with a good attitude. Sometimes attitude alone can carry you through difficult times.
8.Growing and improving are lifelong processes. There is always room to improve. This doesn’t mean mentally whipping yourself, but looking for ways to strengthen yourself in areas that are challenging.
9.It’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes there are questions we can’t answer, challenges we are up against, or things we’d like to do that we can’t do alone. Asking for help is a sign of strength of character, and it doesn’t hurt…you or anyone else.
10.Each of us has unique gifts. There has not and never will be another you. No one does things the way that you do. Find a way to share your unique gifts with others, and everyone benefits.
We can do whatever we dream about…if we believe we can.
Listen to my interview about life as a ballerina HERE.