Dear Dancing Diva,
Remember when we were super close friends in elementary school? We did almost every thing together and shared everything together?
I look back to those days and think fondly of you, and I wished that it could have remained that way. We were much more innocent and willing to love each other back then.
Maybe it was the school you went to. Maybe I have always just been naive. This was the time before AIM, and so we lost contact when you moved away. I was so happy to see you again during my first day of dance class, and I'd like to think you were happy to see me at first, too.
It was fine at first. We chatted away as we did stretches. Years of ballet had taught me to contort my body in ways most would probably deem painful; I was just as flexible as you. But then came choreography. That was very different.
As I struggled to twirl the red handkerchief, you began to move away from me, as though you never knew me. When I could not catch up with the fast-moving gymnastic-like choreography, you began to snicker behind my back. I heard from a grapevine that you told everyone at Chinese School that I was horrible at dancing, and needed to just quit.
My heart hurt as I heard those piercing words -- I've always thought better of you, and even as you shunned me, I gave you excuses after excuses in my own mind. I told myself that since you were a different role, you were busy learning other choreography with people you were grouped with. I told myself that it was my fault. I told myself I was too embarrassing to be seen around. I spent hours practicing at home, feeling inadequate of even being your friend. I learned to hate that I was first trained in ballet, instead of after. I began to hate myself for being so disciplined, and I tried to find a way to forget my training. I was miserable, trying to find a way to be your friend again. But to hear what you told others, I realized the problem was not me, but you.
Maybe you have changed now. Maybe you're a completely different person. But thank you, for in that moment, I learned a lot about the kind of person I want to be. This friendship and ex-friendship you have given me motivates me to remember that everyone comes from a different background. You showed me first hand how important it is to be open and welcoming to everyone. The memory of the way I felt so embarrassed and inadequate has become a reason for me to love on others, and not judge someone for what they are good or bad at. You pushed me to continue challenging myself in dance, and truth be told: I'm still horrible at it. I've lost the flexibility I had when I was younger and training in ballet, but I still over-extend everything too much to keep on beat when it comes to faster choreography. I've learned to embrace that I am much more trained to dance certain genres, and that's fine. It shouldn't stop me from having fun, making friends, and dancing my heart out.
Of course, I'm just speaking in terms of dance, but it's true for anything. I can admit to being bad at something, but it doesn't mean I have to feel unworthy. If I am good at something, I can still admit that there are plenty more who are even better; if I see someone struggling, I have no reason to feel like I am too great to help. It's a really important lesson you taught me, and it's greatly shaped who I strive to be. So thank you, for teaching me how to be a better version of me.