I took my position out on the floor…..quiet, still, waiting. The spotlights came on, the music hit my ears and my body began to move. I knew at that moment I wasn’t dancing for anybody else. I was dancing for me.
Starting at age 9 all the way through age 18, I played sports. And I was pretty darn good too. But an urge in high school would have me decide not to play softball my senior year. To this day when I think about this story, I still can’t believe I did it.
You see, I’ll let you in on a little secret about me; when I was younger, I hated letting people down. I still don’t like to let people down today, but I also see it in a different way now. In high school, as a teenager, that was a huge piece of my character; not wanting to let anybody down. And that piece of me decided lots of things based on other peoples’ feelings and opinions. I mean, I do understand that sometimes you do things for people out of respect and out of love. But when anything turns ‘chronic’, it can feel like a heavy boulder on your shoulder. And it felt like that for me many times as a teen, until that one decision I made on a winter day in 1985.
Everyone always assumed I’d just keep playing sports, especially my dad. I loved my dad to death, but he was one of the main people in my life that I truly did not want to let down.
‘How am I going to tell him? What will he say? I know he’s not going to like this. I don’t want to hurt him.’
Another person who I believe assumed that I would be playing softball my senior year was the softball coach, as well as a lot of my teammates and friends.
How could I let them all down? I was most likely going to be one of the starting pitchers. And when I didn’t pitch, I’d still be playing in the infield. How can I let them all down -my dad, my coach, my teammates – especially when we lost so many great players who graduated the year before? I don’t want to let them down!
But you know who I’d really be letting down if I didn’t follow through with that urge I had that year? Myself.
I wanted to dance!
Every May I watched the yearly dance show at my high school. It was a big event at my school and it was awesome! And every year I didn’t join because it took place the same time as softball. Well, senior year something came over me. I don’t know what, but somehow I got the courage to choose what I wanted to do….and I chose to dance!
You were pretty much guaranteed to be in one dance. And by choosing to join my senior year, being in that one dance meant I’d have to dance with freshman girls. But you know what, I didn’t care. That was no big deal to me. I made some great new friends and had a blast at the same time.
Then it came time to try out for other dances. Yikes, my first year, how could I try out for any more? What if I didn’t make them?
A good friend of mine in high school was a part of the dance show every year. And she would be doing a solo dance as a senior….how cool is that (and she was really awesome too)! She encouraged me to try out for more dances. She gave me some tips. I remember she said to ‘make every move big – really exaggerate every move!’ And I did. And I was chosen for every dance I tried out for…….so that meant I was in 5 dances (including the opening number)! Woohoo! Life was good. And I even went on to try out and make the dance team in college. In my heart, I knew I made the right choice to follow my heart that one winter day, senior year. That choice made my self-esteem soar!
Today, now that I’m a lot older (and a little wiser, lol), I can see the urge of ‘not wanting to let people down’ with a new perspective. I see that ‘choosing me’ is not a selfish thing at all. We all have a right to choose what makes us happy. If someone feels let down, then that’s something they need to look within and do some self-discovery as to why another person’s decision affects them that way. And by choosing what makes you happy, you affect others in a positive way. Those people who may have been upset at first for you choosing something, may see the joy and aliveness that radiates through you and may decide they want the same for themselves.
Choose you. Choose what makes you happy and watch the magic begin.
Have you ever wanted to do something, something that makes your heart sing and lights you up, but were fearful of letting someone else down? What did you choose to do?
This post is a part of Teen Week: Words That Heal, at Medicinal Marzipan. It’s an annual blog series that occurs the last week of March, where bloggers use their sites to speak out about their experiences with body image, sexuality, and self-esteem during their teen years. I’m super excited and honored to be a part of this wonderful event that Mara puts together. enjoy!
inhale ~ enjoy ~ exhale,