I started dancing approximately 16 years ago, and though I can’t remember exactly when it started, I know it defined large portions of who I am. It has been a big piece of my life for longer than can I remember, and I loved it — most of it, anyway.
I especially loved dancing ballet. I loved the way it made me feel: powerful and graceful all at once. I was able to stand on the tips of my toes and spin without so much as flinching, able to keep my hair plastered to my head and my makeup looking clean even though I was sweating under the searing white lights.
I picked a sport that made me who I am. No matter what happens, no matter how much time has passed, my feet still fit into those soft canvas shoes and my arms still move as if they’re grazing over water.
Ballet gave me an opportunity to belong somewhere and a chance to feel beautiful in a world that has denied me that satisfaction. Nothing will ever measure up to the fluttering in my stomach when I’m gasping for breath and a crowd of complete strangers is cheering for me even after the curtain falls down.
Dancing gave me so much. Resilience, strength, confidence, perseverance, focus, drive and friendships that will last until the day I die, but mostly ballet made me into the girl I am today and the woman I hope to be someday.
Ballet taught me how to fly, how to soar beyond what anyone expects you to be capable of. Ballet taught me how to pick myself up and deal with it when things aren’t going my way. Ballet taught me how to keep fighting for the things that I want, even if they seem past my reach.
Ballet taught me how to wipe my eyes and just keep turning. Ballet taught me how to fall in love with something. Ballet taught me how to lose, but ballet also taught me how to win. (Bonus: ballet made me better at French.)
Even after two knee injuries and some really ugly feet, I’ll never stop. Because if I do, who am I? And what kind of lover am I if I leave after I’ve been given so much?
Kaylie McLaughlin is the assistant news editor for the Collegian and a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.