I believe that I am a naturally creative being. Whether it is expressed through art, music, dance, writing, or any other creative outlet you can think of my imagination runs infinitely. Thus a lot of my ideas or ways of doing things are unique or unconventional. Unfortunately because of this I often find myself get so excited about a creative thing but then quickly feel the passion leave me as I realize that either I’m not succeeding the way everybody else succeeds, or my skills at a certain thing are not like everybody else’s.
Okay, so story time. I’ve been in dance classes since I was 12 and I wish I could take my recital DVD from that year just to hide it from the world forever. I started with no talent, no flexibility, and no rhythm, but I knew I wanted to dance. There was an undeniable passion inside of me. I think the only reason that I stayed in dance after the first year was because I was so ignorant of my lack of talent. After staying in dance lessons for so long I began to realize that other girls would move up to the next level while I stayed in it for another year. At first I didn’t question it, but when I was around 15 years old I began to see what was happening. I was not a typical dancer.
I always preferred organic movement to doing leaps and turns. I do not have a dancer’s body, I am not paper thin with a flat chest, and calves that could crush anything. I am short, I have larger hips than most ballerinas, and I am the opposite of flexible. I saw that I was never the teacher’s favorite and I was never the girl in the front row. This truth cut deep like a knife. I felt like there was no point of me being in dance because I was never going to make it professionally. From that point there were two options; I either needed to quit and find something else to do or work harder to improve. Work harder to be flexible, to get up on my box in pointe, to consistently land a double pirouette, to eventually get to be the girl in the front row. I got better eventually and my technique improved significantly, but I was still the base, the understudy, and second row at best. As devastating as this was to me, this is not to say that I wasn’t successful on my own terms. I stopped measuring my success off of what company level I was on and started measuring my success on my individual improvement. I saw what kind of beauty was within the performance as a whole rather than what kind of part I had in it.
Writing this I am reminded of how Paul speaks of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Relating this piece of scripture to my dance experience, if I had given up my creative pursuit out of shame or doubt then I would have been so counterproductive to God’s kingdom. That would’ve been me saying that He is not worthy of my best effort, so I’m just going to quit.
If I could say anything to the “me” in the past, it would be to not decide your failure by other’s success. See that you are just a part of a bigger picture. In the grand scheme of God’s Kingdom, your failure is based on if you give up, not where you rank within a dance company. I wish I could’ve known that so much earlier than when I finally figured it out late in high school.
Chase after your creative pursuit. See what passions God has put burning inside of you and fan the flame. Whether you are successful by the world’s standards or not, be content that you are where God has put you. And if you’re not content, I urge you to find out why. Ask God to reveal to you where you should be and pray expectantly that He will guide you.
Peace and love,
Featured photo thanks to my sweet friend Cassidy Matlock!