I found myself with increased gratitude for my dance support system


As I surveyed the audience, my scanning eyes landed upon my mom. Phone in hand, she was prepared to record the upcoming dance and forward it to me immediately following its conclusion—so I could critique my performance. I continued to search for my dad and sister, and I found them two rows ahead of my mom. They were huddled together over my dad’s phone.

I turned to the nearest person, which happened to be my friend Molly, and predicted that as soon as the announcer stated that Forest Hills Central Varsity was in the hole, both of their heads would snap up. Only Lauren’s head did, but I was nonetheless satisfied with my prediction.

As I composed my nerves on the side of the gym in preparation to compete, I took a moment to acknowledge the gift that I always have at least one family member at each dance competition I partake in. Whether it be for dance team or studio, I am never left to fend for myself at competitions. Because of my family, I have people to dance for. Each of them has made sacrifices at some point throughout my journey with dance to support me.

After two-thirds of our dances were successfully completed, lunch approached. As I showed up to lunch late, I saw that my mom, dad, and sister were all sporting Forest Hills Central Varsity Dance Team gear. My stressed, flat expression transformed into a smile at the sight of their shirts. I knew that waking up early and sitting on bleachers for hours was not an ideal situation for them to voluntarily put themselves in; therefore, their obvious spirit hugely added to my genuine gratefulness for them being present in Jenison that morning.

Following the departure of my dad and Lauren and the conclusion of our final dance, I was greeted by my mom on the gym floor. The upcoming session was solos, and since I hadn’t competed a solo since fifth grade, she was aware that I was extremely nervous. However, she provided encouraging words which helped me regain faith in myself and calm down. Without her support, I would not have found the confidence to simply get over my nerves and dance.

Although I was frustrated with certain parts of the day upon my arrival back into Forest Hills, my mom calmly reminded me of how she sacrificed her entire day to watch me. Therefore, she argued that I needed to eliminate my “attitude.” Later that same night, Lauren also reminded me of how lucky I was to have my mom watch my entire competition; she argued that my mom had just as long as a day as I did.

Perhaps that is why I chose to compose this column. I find it challenging to appreciate what I have right when I have it. Properly reflecting at a later date is what allows me to truly appreciate the people and things I am lucky enough to have within my life. Therefore, obvious anger grows in me when I realize that I treated those who sacrifice too much for me poorly. I can’t assume that my supporters understand and know how much I appreciate them.

Therefore, thank you, Mom, for coming to every single dance competition. We have discussed it before, but I would be a hot mess without your presence during each of those long weekends. Twelve years of dancing is a lot to endure; yet, you continuously support all things dance. Likewise, thank you to my friends who all thoroughly support and cheer me on during football game performances and basketball game halftimes. Though it sometimes causes me to develop extreme anxiety preceding a performance, I have come to enjoy making my way into the student section following my performances to receive all of your kind words and compliments. Whether or not I am proud of my performance, you all consistently have nothing but positive words to say.  

As I acknowledge the fact that the amount of time I have left dancing is slowly diminishing, I am extremely thankful for the people who have assisted me throughout my career. Although I am not completely aware of what my future consists of involving dance, I am positive that I would not be the dancer that I am today without the constant support I receive from various outlets.