So, I have been cleaning and clearing out old boxes to allow more free space in our home. You would not believe the
crap stuff I have held onto for all these years. 98% used candle jars, notes my friends and I passed back and forth from middle school, troll dolls (am I dating myself)? Oh and my favorite, the school directories from my elementary days (just in case), we are talking decades people! One little gem I did come across was a paper I wrote in high school. While reading it to my children I realized even way back then the importance of a positive outlook on life. Anyways, I thought (hoped) if I shared this with the world it may hit home with someone. Even if it is just one person, I would be a happy camper. Now this is no nobel prize winning piece, but it is all heart.
My alarm went off at 5am sharp on a beautiful spring Saturday morning. My first thought was “oh please help me get through this day!” At ten years old I felt this was the most important day of my life. I was to compete in a solo jazz dance for the first time. I dressed in the costume I had carefully picked out from all the dance catalogs. It was a purple, two piece outfit, with a huge silver ponytail holder. I chose purple because it was, and still is, my favorite color.
When my parents and I arrived at the competition I was dircted back stage, and my parents left to take their seats in the high school auditorium. As I stood there waiting for the announcer to finish his welcome speech, I felt my knees shaking and my heart racing. To add to my nervousness was the fact that I was the opening number of the competition. I wanted so much to perform my routine perfectly and make my parents proud. I was practicing my dance over and over in my head when all of a sudden I heard my name and froze. From where I was standing, I could see my parents clapping, and I knew I had to go out there and dance my heart away. Trying to keep a smile on my face while my mouth quivered, I got into my beginning pose. Paula Abdul’s voice shouted out “Promise of a New Day” and my feet started dancing. They were not dancing the carefully choreographed steps that my teacher had me practice countless hours on, but at least my feet were in step with the beat. During the first refrain, I suddenly remembered the routine and danced the rest of the piece the way I was taught. As the music came to an end and as I held my pose, I could hear all the applause. I turned and gave the biggest bow of thankfulness, partly because it was over, but mostly because I had done it!
We had to wait all day for the results, but I felt so confident on how well I had performed. All competitors, spectators, and judges sat in the auditorium as the winners were read. Shiny trophies and red ribbons were given out to the first, second, and third place winners. My division came and went and I did not hear my name again that day. I was crushed! I congratulated all my friends who had won something, and then my parents and I left as soon as we were finished. The minute I was alone with my parents I burst into tears. I felt that I had disappointed them, and I was embarrassed that I had not won anything. My parents smiled their biggest smiles and said, “Rachel, you were a winner the moment you stepped out on that stage.” I’ll never forget that day, that experience, or that comment.
I thought long and hard about what it took to be a winner and decied that my parents were right. That first solo experience taught me that not everyone walks away with the winning trophy; some of us take a winning attitude. Over the years, I’ve tried my hardest to do my very best in everything I do. I’ve gained confidence in myself and in my abilities. My first solo dance experience gave me the desire and determination to try to achieve my goals, no matter how difficult the desired end seemed. When, after many attempts at first place, I finally made it, the recognition meant a lot more to me. Nothing comes easy, but if you want something bad enough, all the efforts are worth it.
After reading this to my children, my daughter very seriously says to me “next time you decide to improv you should really improv with the exact same moves your dance teacher taught you!” I said “thank you, that was very insightful of you sweetie.” Not sure she fully grasped the point of the paper. Maybe I’ll read it again to her another day.