I have spent a number of years believing I’ve become far too fat for ballet, and to tell you the truth, I might be right.
Today’s events were the result of a string of ridiculous and poorly thought out choices I made the night before last. My first lapse in judgement was brewing and guzzling down a mug of pumpkin spice creamer laced coffee— around ten at night. Wide eyed, bushy tailed, and horribly hopped up on caffeine, I (surprisingly) found it difficult to sleep.
It was some time between swiping through Netflix options and catching up with emails that I was struck with a sudden, insatiable desire to dance. However, it couldn’t be just any kind of dance. Oh no, no— it had to be ballet. Never mind my weak, repetitively injured ankles or pitifully doughy arms, legs, midsection…
(Sigh) You get the picture, I’m sure.
Despite knowing the folly of my newly resurrected dreams of being a graceful ballerina, I proceeded to fill my mind with grandiose imaginations of me pirouetting around and leaping through the air like a tutu-ed gazelle. After all, just like ice skating, I had always wanted to take ballet lessons.
As a child (and even as an adult), I could never understand why my mother never signed me up for dance or gymnastics classes against my will like other moms did. It is a genuine shame that she permitted me to have free will because I’m fully convinced I would have been a natural at ballet. I mean, I had all the qualifications.
Firstly, I was very thin (operative word here being was). Secondly, I was adept at quickly picking up new things, especially when those things involved music and adorable frilly outfits. But most importantly, I rarely fell while spinning around the kitchen floor in my cat face covered slippery socks.
Oh yeah, I was a triple threat. 😂
Squandered childhood talent aside, ballet remained a quiet fascination for me throughout my life. Although I have received formal and informal instruction in other dance styles, ballet has always been the one elusive art form I could never quite confront. There always seemed to be this mysterious exclusivity about it, accompanied by discouraging (albeit erroneous) reasons why a “girl like me” couldn’t pursue it.
Wrong color. Wrong weight. Wrong height. Wrong temperament. Wrong, in general.
Hasn’t this been the story of (most of) my life, though? I shudder to think of the person I might have become if I had not spent my youth blindly adhering to societal expectations. There were so many interests that I had wanted to pursue back when “girls like me” didn’t even think of doing such things. And to be perfectly fair, “girls like me” (whatever that really even means…) still don’t have much representation when it comes to gaming, graphic design, programming, extreme sports, and STEM.
As much as it disheartens me that we still live in a world where some individuals continue to believe that certain industries, hobbies, musical genres, clothing styles, manners of speech or modes of behavior are exclusive to particular groups of people, change does not occur by merely looking at worldly injustice and saying, “Ohhh… that’s too bad.”
Change takes place when people get fed up enough of the lies to actually take a stand against them. And while we cannot go out into the world and make anyone do anything they don’t desire to do, we can set a positive and encouraging example by removing the shackles of limitation from our own ankles.
Today, I kicked off the chains that said I could not study ballet. It wasn’t fancy, but it didn’t cost me a single dime. I simply put on my workout clothes, grabbed my tablet, and pushed play on a beginner’s barre instructional video I found on Youtube.
For thirty minutes, I practiced pliés, rond de jambes, port de bras and the like. And though it wasn’t flawless or painless or anything remotely close to resembling “feminine grace”, I had a tremendous amount of fun. Being quite the perfectionist, I hated all of the mistakes I kept making, but I enjoyed the challenge of improving each movement. My heart was overflowing with genuine happiness by the time the lesson ended.
I have spent a number of years believing I’ve become far too fat for ballet, and to tell you the truth, I might be right. But in the event that I’m wrong (as is often the case), I want to continue to work hard at this and see what can come of it. There was an adult ballet class I looked up when I first moved out here, so I’d love to eventually sign up for it.
Who knows? I may discover that I really was a natural all along.
What experiences have you avoided due to stereotypes or limiting beliefs? Have any of you managed to break free from these and achieve success? I’d love to hear from you guys, so please feel free to share your story down below.
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