When I was a sophomore in high school I went on a few dates with a senior boy that was oh so cute! (Now I am sure I have caught the attention of all my teenage students…LOL) He seemed wonderful on paper… captain of the football team, a cute smile, blue eyes. But, I quickly learned he was far from perfect! On our second date he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to study dance in college and either perform professionally or become a dance teacher. He laughed at me and said, “Oh… what are you going to study sweetheart? How to tie your pointe shoes?” He proceeded to tell me how ‘stupid’ that career path was and that I needed to get in touch with reality. I was quiet the rest of the date and didn’t say much. The next day I was so mad at myself for allowing him to call my dreams worthless and unimportant.
The following week my totally awesome light up landline phone rang. (I know I was so cool… not!) It was ‘Mr. Dreamy’ (or so he thought) trying to find another time we could ‘hang out’. I was busy with dance classes and he wanted me to skip them. “It’s useless anyways…” He kept saying to me. Useless? All my hardwork and countless hours studying something I loved was NOT worthless and neither was I. He finally stopped calling and trying to make plans because I was ‘too busy for him’.
He was right, I was too busy for him. I was too busy surrounding myself with supportive teachers and friends that believed in me. A few summers ago I passed him on the street and we muttered a brief hello to each other. He had a weird tan line on his face because he had fallen asleep on the beach with his sunglasses on and, honestly, he smelled a little funny. (LOL…. hmmm) He never graduated from college and did not have a fulfilling career or family to care for. Which is a bit ironic considering how ‘stupid’ he thought my career path was back in high school…Now who needed to get in touch with reality?
I left our conversation thinking how very sad it would have been if I listened to him. If I skipped dance. If I quit everything I loved because one boy, friend or person thought my dreams were ‘stupid’. How different my life would be today if I chose to give into peer pressure. There would be no Exhale, no Mrs. Jen, maybe no Mr. Paul or Sophia and Rosie…. Imagine that!
To all my students, I hope you always have the strength to believe in your dreams. I hope you do not skip dance or any activity you love simply because your friends want you to. I hope you go to college to be a dancer, doctor, lawyer, singer, teacher, veterinarian, ventriloquist…. Because that is what YOU want. Mostly, I hope you choose to fill your life with people who believe in you and your dreams. That you build an inner circle of people who love you for YOU. I hope you chose to live your life happy and fulfilled because everyday you wake up and do what you love surrounded by people you love. I hope you have the strength to tell that cute boy, popular girl or even bully… sorry, not today, I am too busy. 🙂