I remember my first dance performance, the awful tapping of the tiny shiny plastic tap shoes that donned the feet of myself and the other four-year-olds attempting to stand in a line beside me. I remember the rush of the feeling of the light’s heat on my skin and the excitement I felt slipping on the itchy costume I wore. I can remember distinctly the promise I made to dance until I could not any longer.
That promise broke a lot sooner than I originally dreamed. If you were to have asked me eight years ago what I would be studying in college, I would have said “dance” with the hopes of dance being my forever job. While many young girls often say that, it was truly my everything. I spent hours in the studio, in physical therapy and sobbing whenever the cast list didn’t come out in my favor. I pushed past dance teachers telling me that I would never make it and promised to prove them wrong. I was determined, no matter what it took.
Just as I remember when my dream was born, I can remember the sinking in my stomach when my dream died within me as a junior in highschool. I realized that I did not love to dance any longer. It did not bring me joy or life like I thought it had. I felt sick knowing that it has not brought me life for years, but rather was breaking me down brick by brick. I remember when I told my mom that I was done and I walked away from the only dream I thought that I had.
I moved on and found new dreams that bring me life. I fill my time with activities that bring me joy and make me feel like I am making a difference in the world around me. I rebuilt what dance broke within me. As I walked away from dance, my little sister did the exact opposite. She spent more hours in the studio and became better than I ever could have.
Sitting in her first large dance performance, watching her perform a role I could only have dreamed of getting, I could feel the jealousy burn within me. I was angry that she got to live the dream that I had tried tirelessly to reach. I was jealous that I was never as good. I was angry that it was affecting me at all, as I thought that I had moved on from this dream. Sitting there in that audience, though, I felt like such a failure— I had given up on a dream that still seemed to define me.
After the show, my sister bound up to me, the brightest smile on her face, desperate to know how I thought that she did. She said she wanted a dancer’s opinion. I felt the jealousy simmer softer. I watched the light in her eyes as she wanted to know what I thought of what she did, if she made me proud. The envy melted within me. She had danced beautifully and I knew in that moment that she had found her dream.
When I saw the joy, determination and drive in her eyes I realized quickly that maybe it was never my dream to hold. I remember the tears in my eyes when my sister thanked me for finding her dream for her and showing her how determination can get you places. I realized that without me she may have never found this passion, for it was the hours I spent in the studio at such a young age that drove her to join classes herself.
I have continued to watch my sister grow into the dancer that I could only have dreamed of being. This year she has one of the most amazing roles in “The Nutcracker” that will probably make me cry when I watch her. She spends hours in the studio and doesn’t back down from being a better dancer. She continues to come to me for advice and thoughts she has about dance. She wants me at as many performances as I can attend and always runs up to me with that adorable little smile on her face after the performance to ask me what I thought. She lights up on stage no matter the role or performance.
She took my dream. She achieved things beyond what I even dreamed for myself. She has a drive that I never had. She found love in something that I eventually started to hate. She is a dancer, something that was not a part of my plan.
She stole my dream and I could not be more happy—because it was never my dream to chase, but hers.