Gratitude for Dance

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with gratitude and time spent with loved ones.

Today was a groggy but relaxing day for me. I woke up at around 10 a.m. to the sound of my mother’s voice calling me to get ready for a dental appointment. The night before, I had stayed up late watching episodes 2 and 3 of the HBO mini-series, “Big Little Lies”. I’m absolutely hooked! Just before I sat down to write this post, I watched episode 4. There are only 6 episodes in the entire series, so I highly recommend the show to students on spring break, as you’ll finish it within a week.

Austin and I headed to the dental office at around 11:30 a.m. We got our teeth cleaned– I absolutely hated the fluoride spread on our teeth– then headed home for a lunch of homemade fried rice, prepped with love by my mother. I’m living in a university apartment next year, so I must learn how to cook at least a few dishes, like this fried rice, lest I starve to death.

At 2:30 p.m., Austin drove me to a local dance studio, where I put on my black Ray Rose practice shoes and danced cha-cha and rumba for almost two hours. Definitely not as hardcore as my former 5 to 6 hours practices at the studio, back when I was still in the competitive loop… but I’m easing back into dancing. When I first began dancing again at the close of winter quarter, I battled a lot of negativity during my short practices. I had gotten immensely out of shape during the past 10 weeks of minimal dancing, living at my desk and stress eating. I gained a lot of weight. My physical and mental stamina was gone. My progress as a dancer lost significant momentum since I began college.

So long as I am at UCLA, though, academics is my number one priority, as it should be. I know that my dad is paying big bank for me to get an education. Not to dance. I just… I just wish that, when I was still in high school, spending my after-school hours at the studio with no other care in the world, I had more greatly appreciated the pure-dance life I was living. Then, I never concerned myself with the financial cost of lessons. I didn’t need to worry about transporting myself to the studio. My parents saw that dance made me happy, so they were more than willing to support me, financially and morally, in my craft. All I needed to care about was my growth as a dancer. I was blessed beyond belief. But I didn’t realize it then.

In those days, I was so focused on improving quickly to do well at competitions, that I never stopped to think about how lucky I was to have the opportunity to dance, period.

I am a college student now, and I have more responsibilities. Dance is now a secondary priority. My education, career goals and personal/professional development are my current areas of focus. During the academic quarter, I’d be lucky to get in a single dance lesson each week. Uber and public transportation are the only means by which I can get to the studio. My heart sinks each time I withdraw a couple hundred dollars from my bank account for lessons. My parents are still willing to support me financially in dancing, which I am utterly grateful for. Yet, with the realities of being a full-time college student, I know I can no longer go back to the life I lived back in my pre-college days… when dance was my only care in the world.

But, I mustn’t harbor bitter feelings about the current state of my dancing. None at all. You know why? Because I am healthy. I have four flourishing limbs and it is a gift that I can still dance, especially after the gymnastics injury. It is a blessing that my parents are still willing to pay for my dance lessons. Do I wish I could be doing more dancing in college? Sure. Is the situation, as it stands, perfect? No. But what of these kids in the picture below?

These kids don’t have much. No fancy practice wear, no expensive dance shoes, no hardwood floor. Nothing. But they are happy, because they can dance. This is dancing in its purest form, and it is beautiful.

Next time I go into a dance practice, I should, first and foremost, be GRATEFUL for the chance to dance, for I never know when my last day as a dancer will be. Forget the negativity. Forget the misguided ambition to “make it big” in the dance world. If it happens, it happens. But don’t let the extrinsic motivation of achieving a dream of glory cloud the joy and beauty of dance. Forget the body insecurities. Forget the self-pity. Forget it all. I must cherish each moment I have on that floor and simply appreciate the ability to dance! So what if I’m only able to dance a couple times each week? Who cares that I’ve gotten physically out of shape since coming to college? All of those little “problems” don’t detract from the fact that I still have the gift of dancing at my fingertips. The beauty of dance is, you can do it anywhere. In the dorm room. In the bathroom. On the freaking street. Now, after writing this blog and, in the process, finding clarity in my thoughts, I don’t know why I ever complained or moped about college slowing my dance progress. I can still dance, and that should be enough for me.

I want to conclude this post by sharing with you guys a lesson I am slowly learning. Here it is:

In focusing more on what I have and less on what I don’t have, I will be happier and more grateful for my many blessings. This goes for everything in life, not just dancing. Take school, for instance. If I get an A- in my chemistry class, it’s no A+… but come on. An A-? That’s still pretty darn good. I should be happy with that, acknowledge that I performed well and not be too greedy for more. Will I strive to do better the next time around? Sure. But, my best should be enough. There’s no such thing as a perfect situation or a perfect life, but we all do our best within the confines of individual circumstances and reality. And that is enough.





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