Life’s a dance you learn as you go

To balance the severity of my course load this past semester, I enrolled in a ballroom dancing class. Now, I’ve danced before, but never like this. Throughout the course I learned to two-step, waltz, jitterbug, foxtrot, and even tango a little. (Let me tell you, what they say is true: it is all about the attitude.) I even found a great dance partner, who I will call AP.

As part of the ongoing dance experience, AP and I decided to take a “Dips and Tricks” class. Unfortunately, we were the least experienced dancers there. Nonetheless, we trudged along as gracefully as we could, leaping and landing, sometimes correctly. We even tried to master a leg wrap that involved a quick weight change, and we giggled like middle-schoolers at our lack of elegance. But after a few attempts, we pulled it off!

So we thought we were doing pretty well, until it came time for the Death Drop. Yes, Death D-r-o-p. Even though he could hold my weight and our hands were locked correctly, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t d-r-o-p all the way down, despite AP’s assurance that he wasn’t going to let me go.

The truth is, AP isn’t the problem. Our connection is solid. The problem is me. I’m afraid to fall. I’m afraid to fail.

Throughout my years of schooling, getting anything below an A was painful. It meant that I wasn’t smart and I needed to study harder. I spent the majority of my life being compared to my peers and never feeling good enough. They were always earning prestigious scholarships, winning awards for math and writing, or running faster than me in track. When we were all applying for colleges, I didn’t even feel adequate enough to try for a certain Ivy League school. Meanwhile they were all discussing which Ivies they would accept or reject.

It wasn’t until I was actually in college that I became comfortable with my intellect. After all those years of worrying about my grades and writing, I began to understand that I am much more than any of that. I have mentored elementary-school children, raised funding for a local hospital, and worked to help make the UT campus more environmentally conscious. And on top of all that, my professors praised the very skills I used to be concerned about.

College was a gradual learning experience that helped me discover and define myself, even if I’m more confused now than I have ever been about what I would like to do. It’s only because I’ve learned that I now have more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. I’ve also realized, I like me. I’m comfortable with who I am. I just need to remember that it’s okay to take risks and make mistakes. Because I will bounce back.

So in that “Dips and Tricks” class, when AP reassured me one more time that he wasn’t going to drop me, I looked at him with a childish smile and let go of my fear, falling towards the floor.

And I came right back up, as good as ever.