My dance career began when I was a toddler. With my mom in the room, I instantly fell in love with twirling around while wearing a tutu and watching myself in the mirror. The following week changed it all when my mom was no longer in the classroom — just as quickly as I loved ballet, I despised it. I did not care how much tulle I was wearing, nothing came between me and being attached to my mom’s hip.
So, alas, a career as a professional ballerina was no longer in sight, but that did not stop me from pretending I already was one. Television shows like “Shake it Up” and “Dance Moms” shaped my childhood, giving me delusions of rhythm and flexibility that would catapult me into stardom. If a teenage Zendaya could do it, I could too!
And I was not alone in this train of thought. Most weekends throughout elementary school were spent in the basement of one of my friend’s houses, partaking in an intense dance competition. These were serious. Judges were randomly chosen, categories and styles selected, and hours were spent choreographing with my teammates. The end result was either a triumphant win or a heartbreaking loss, which would lead to insisting we start a new round.
As we entered middle school, our obsession for hosting our own dance competitions was traded in for long conversations revolving around our favorite shows. Most notably, “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Listen, I understand that 18 seasons and counting is getting to be a bit excessive. And, I cannot say that I continue to tune in to every episode, but Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang taught me one vital lesson — dance it out. And for that, I am forever grateful.
This was their thing, before Yang left the show in its 10th season, leaving me and my friends heartbroken. In situations full of hard decisions and stress, the two characters would turn up the music and dance it out. Looking back on these scenes, it truly was a beautiful representation of two strong females showering each other with support, and somehow, a 13-year-old me recognized that.
And that display of love has stayed with me. Dancing it out rings true, as I am always hit with a wave of appreciation for my friends when we are in the middle of a dance floor or spinning around a kitchen.
However, typically, I utilize intentional dance parties to show myself support, rather than my friends. In the midst of studying for a midterm or, as of recently, struggling with grief, putting in my headphones and blasting some music is how I give myself a hug.
Taking time to put aside my feelings of frustration or sadness to move and sing and feel joy is the greatest gift I can give myself. There are not many moments when I do not think about how I could be perceived, but as I flail around my room, I have the freedom not to care. Almost instantly I can smile easily and feel grateful for that moment. No training, no competition, no audience. Just me, letting myself take a well-deserved break.