Hello my dear friends, I’ve missed you all so much! I can’t believe it’s been over one month since my last post. My life lately has been a blur of college apps, schoolwork, and dance, so it’s difficult to fit in anything else given the current circumstances. But on the bright side- IT’S FINALLY THANKSGIVING BREAK! In honor of Thanksgiving being two days away, I’ve decided to write a post about some of the many things I am grateful for in my life.
This one’s a no brainer. My family– mom, dad, brothers, grandma– have been by my side through thick and thin, have supported me wholeheartedly in every endeavor I pursue, and will forever and always love me unconditionally. I thank my mother and father in particular for giving me the resources and support for me to follow my dreams. Without the two of them, I would be nowhere near the person I am today. My family is my rock, my anchor in life when things spin out of control. It is so easy to take for granted the unconditional love, support, and security of a family, but the reality is that many people in this world are plagued with broken, dysfunctional familial relationships. So please, this Thanksgiving, give each of your family members a kiss. Express your gratitude and unwavering love for them. Even though at times, conflicts may arise and relationships may hit a bump in the road, let your loved ones know that you will love them no matter what happens, simply because your bond is so strong it can withstand the darkest of forces.
This one may also seem obvious, but it wasn’t always to me. There was a time in my life when I didn’t cherish friendships as much as I do now. When I was a competitive gymnast, I was so wrapped up in succeeding in the sport and reaching my dream of being an Olympian that I neglected to nourish and build relationships with those around me. My priorities then were out of balance– I thought winning the titles and gaining the glory would make up for my lack of relationships. Only when I got injured and lost my sport did I realize that my heart was filled with loneliness. I was living a life of great expectations, but also a life of illusion. Being exceptional at something is great, but if it gets in the way of your relationships and blinds you to what really matters in life– relationships with people you love– then to hell with glory. At the end of the day, who you are as a person and how many lives you have touched is what defines you, NOT the number of titles you win. So now, while I still remain a goal-oriented person with huge dreams, I am placing a lot more emphasis on building relationships with people in my community. I am so grateful for the people I’ve met through dance, and even more so for the few beautiful souls who have touched my heart and will continue to support me through my life journey. I am also grateful for the relationships I’ve built with my teachers and peers in school these past couple years. Back in my days of illusion, I didn’t see school as a place where making friends was the least bit important. To me, friendships simply got in the way of my studies and gymnastics. While it is true that being a competitive gymnast– or competitive anything– requires one to sacrifice a social life to a degree, I took this idea to its extreme. Yes, I succeeded in school. Yes, I succeeded as a gymnast. But what does any of that matter, if deep down inside, I used my drive for success as a means to conceal my loneliness? After coming to this state of enlightenment, I’ve made a great effort this year, my senior year of high school, to reach out and open up to my peers. And I am SO glad I did that. Because through the process, I met so many wonderful people– people I’ve known of for four years, but have never TRULY gotten to know. Opening up to other people lets others open up to you, and that is the definition of true friendship. My throat clenches with emotion as I am writing about this, as I never realized how lonely I was before until I experienced the beauty of a single friendship. That is why I encourage every single one of you to open up, let others in your life, hear their stories, and share invaluable experiences with them. This is the gem of life, not transitory glory.
I want to briefly pay homage to what ballroom dance has done for me, how finding this art has changed my life forever. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Thank you, thank you, thank you, ballroom dance, for helping find myself after a period of loss. Not only have I found a new passion and means of expression through Latin ballroom dance, but I’ve also gained something greater: a diverse community of people who share a love for the art. Through ballroom, I’ve forged bonds and invaluable friendships with some of the kindest, smartest, and most artistic people I’ve met in my life, including other young dancers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, scientists, and artists. I love how ballroom dance has the power to draw so many people of different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds together. For all these reasons, I thank you, ballroom dance. You’ve changed my life for the better, made me so much more confident and open with those around me. I cannot imagine a life without you.
And of course, I thank all you guys who continually support me by reading my blog posts. I love having the opportunity to share my life experiences with you guys… I cannot express my gratitude and deeply felt appreciation for my faithful supporters. Thank you.
I will post again soon, once college applications and finals have come to a conclusion 🙂 Until then, have a wonderful holiday season, stay safe, and I love you all!