Who will I be?


Extravagant tiaras and ornate costumes sparkle in the stage light. Sweat drips down smiling faces creating a pinkish glow. Backstage, people hastily prepare for what’s to come.

This is what I live for, or is it?

For the longest time, I wanted to be a professional ballerina, but I have been feeling conflicted for a little while now. That feeling grew as I was performing in The Nutcracker two weekends ago.

I was preparing myself for the possibility of a harsh end to my dance career until I stepped onto the stage. My heart filled with happiness as the crowd clapped and cheered. Excited nervousness flowed through my body as I added color to my face and sparkle to my hair.

Still, every day, I said, “This is the last time I dance [a certain part].”

As all the dancers held hands and bowed after the last performance, I became wrapped in an inescapable blanket of overwhelming sadness. Looking into the audience, I found my dad’s smiling face towering over the others. I told myself not to and tried with all my might to stop, but the tears still managed to puddle in my eyes.

“This is the last time.”

I have been wearing a leotard and tights for fourteen years. The hours have gradually increased to what they are now and have been for a few years. Six days a week and 4-7.5 hours per day, depending on the day and rehearsals.

Almost all my life, I have been labeled as a dancer. It is my identity; it’s me.

Who will I be without it?

I know how hard it is to have a career in dance. It is not something to continue after the age of about 35. It is crazy competitive, and there are amazing dancers from all over the world. Besides, it does not pay much.

So, if I stop dancing, is that just me giving up?

Sometimes it seems like my mind, heart, and body are telling me different things. My heart is happy, my body is slowly falling apart, and my mind is overwhelmed with possible future decisions.

Will I ever not feel conflicted?

I have sacrificed a lot for dance. I have missed football game after football game and sleepover after sleepover. I have lost many friends due to my busy schedule. I have lost sleep and watched my grades drop. I have been overpowered by stress.

Even through all of this, I will never regret giving my all to dance. I have learned so many things that will be of great help later on. I developed many traits that will help me live my best life. I have met some of the most important people in my life through dance.

I am so very thankful for everything dance has done; it helped raise me.

I may be feeling a little burned out, but I am not quite ready to give up. All I know is, no matter what my decision will be, dance is always in my heart. My love for dance is like an ember that will never burn out, no matter how hard the wind blows.