Authoress Note: The following is meant to be an open letter of encouragement. It can be applied to any wholesome dream you have, though it’s obviously going to be geared towards dance For those that don’t know, my dancing has taken a huge hit lately with Tommy’s absence. And I’m afraid it’s gotten worse because I can say with great certainty that he’s not coming back this time, unlike his previous leave of absence. Why the people at the studio have never said “He’s/She’s gone.” is something that continually baffles me. We’re all adults there, so we don’t need to know why, just that it’s happened. Whatever their reasons, I refuse to try to comprehend it anymore. Onto the post.
This is dedicated to all the men and women of the US Armed Forces. Anyone that places their life on the line to keep us safe, regardless of personal character or motivation, has my eternal gratitude. If the good Lord didn’t have other plans for me, I would’ve been honored to be among you. Now, I dedicate my pen to you whenever I can.
When I look in the mirror, I see a slender but toned woman that’s on the short side. People have told me I look like a dancer or that they could “see” me being one. Okay, I’ll take that as a compliment. But, I would advise anyone from saying to another person that they “look” like something because just existing teaches us that appearances can be deceptive.
Years ago, I had quite a different vocational desire. I laughed at the idea of being any kind of teacher because I could never see myself in that role, too impatient and forward. No, I wanted to serve my country in the Army. America had already given me so much, a family and a home. Why not give back? I had carefully weaned myself off the medication I had been taking for hyperactivity and anxiety since middle school just for the purpose of entering a military-oriented university. After that, it was off to the Army.
Unfortunately, the skinny woman in the mirror was apparently not as geared toward the Army as she would toward dancing. I was about to graduate from high school and was applying to New Mexico Military Institute. My application for USMA at West Point got shut down pretty quickly, and that’s all I’ll say about it. Of course, people asked me all the time about my college plans and future career. I told them and almost all of responses were variations of the following:
Really? I’m surprised you want to do that. You don’t really strike me as the type to join the Army.
Excuse me? When someone tells you a dream of theirs, do not dismiss it based on petty appearances! I already struggled with self-confidence (and still do to an extent). So hearing such insensitive responses, even from strangers, dampened my spirit. They didn’t say it outright, but I knew they were looking at my petite physique and skinny arms. It took a soldier’s perspective to knock some sense into my thick skull.
My family and I attended the annual rodeo that year, and the U.S. Army had a station set up at the event. I made a beeline for it, along with several other people. We all dropped and gave them twenty for a T-shirt. Afterwards, I told one of the soldiers about my desire to join the Army and the insensitive comments. He didn’t miss a beat. “Does he look like the Army type?” he questioned, pointing to his colleague beside him. Both men were muscular and certainly looked the part in their uniforms, but I said nothing because it was a rhetorical question. I don’t remember his exact words, but I definitely got the gist.
There isn’t a “type” for the Army because it takes all kinds of people. You go in with what you have. What you need is the willingness the work hard. Are you willing to do what it takes to be in the Army? Because that’s the type of person that belongs in Army.
This applies to dance, too, anything really. There isn’t a “type” of person that makes a better dancer. They may have factors that work in their favor, like physique, previous experience, youth, etc. How many people have been discouraged from dance because they’re plus-size, not the right body type, lack musicality, or are older? How many times did I discourage myself because I lacked balletic background and started “too late?” I am a dancer because I’ve learned how dance. I am a dancer because I’ve stuck with it and intend to stick with it even if Tommy’s gone. I am a dancer because I’m willing to do what it takes to be one. Sure, those comments directed at me (or anyone else) are insensitive. Sure, circumstances have gone downhill But who cares? Are you going to let your dream or passion fizzle out because someone’s a jerk or fortunes’ have turned? I certainly won’t.