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Life > Experiences

Smiling In The Face Of Challenge: Entering The Zone Of Passion And Love

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

I’ve recently completed my last dance concert as a student. My final moments on the main stage were surprisingly peaceful and silly, rather than sad (which is what I was expecting). 

I realized rather than sadness, I felt accomplished and liberated; liberated from fears, judgements and physical and emotional ailments that tried to hold me back from pursuing my interests. I felt bliss and all I could do was heave and smile as I walked off stage dripping sweat, shins aching. 

I’ve been dancing on and off for the last 11 years of my life, but I can’t explain the work that went into this performance within a single article. Prior to the past 7 weeks of intensive dance training I went through, I was bouncing around from injury, to physical therapy, to illness, to ER visits, to doctor appointments and back again. And yet, the prospects of performing on the Marley one more time was an opportunity I simply refused to pass up. Nothing would stop me from one last chance to be under the bright lights with a live audience soaked in darkness and my feet gripping the stage floor as I moved between breaths. 

Thus a transition of mindset was birthed. Rather than judge myself and sink into doubt and sorrow as I once would have, I pursued every challenge I could to stretch further even though my body felt it couldn’t possibly do more.

Instead of pausing as I noticed myself get flushed and feel my muscles ache as sweat dripped down my legs from my chest, I just smiled. I smiled because the challenge meant progress toward a dream. The challenge was exciting, it was dopamine. It was an opportunity to do something brilliantly wrong only to do it beautifully correct the next time around. The soreness when I awoke every morning was a sign of my efforts and my pursuit towards betterment, and so rather than sigh in the morning, I would ice, put on arnicare, and smile. 

We, as humans, are sensitive creatures with limits, but many of these limits are assumed and exist as social pressures to constrain our truest selves. This is not real; what is real is the uncontrollable drive that you possess in your gut and soul, regardless of your struggles, to push through the barriers, whatever they may be, and continue moving forward. For myself, this drive is tied to my passion and love for dance. We all have the capacity to find this zone of ceaseless striving, what is yours? I guarantee that the first thing or things you thought of, which may have surprised you, are your answer(s). 

I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to pursue this dream and manifest it in various ways where it can be a constant part of my life. I am grateful for the teachers and comrades who have pushed me further because they see my potential and know I’m not done yet or at my limits. Find those people in whatever realm you treasure and carry them with you, this is a support team worth treasuring. 

This is a testament to drive, fearlessness, and smiling in the face of challenge. May challenge represent a door which leads to a better and happier you, as it has for me. 

I’ve noticed throughout this process a new phrase which rings true throughout…

I love myself.

Find whatever activity brings you to the brink of collapse where all you can do is smile and think to yourself, “I love myself.”

Sage R.J. Lang is a fourth year at UC Davis, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Education. Sage has pursued their undergraduate degree while traveling abroad, including Davis, Santa Barbara, Washington D.C., and most recently Thailand. Sage has been writing since 2015 and looks forward to sharing their voice with the readers of Her Campus before graduating and pursuing their many career dreams. While Sage's focus is more usually creative prose, they look forward to expanding their horizons towards a more journalistic and personal style. Sage hopes to improve the experiences of current, new, and incoming Davis Aggies with their articles and looks forward to engaging with campus doing something they love deeply.