Rachel, late 20 something year-old, lover of the arts, traveling, mental health awareness, animals, coffee, good wine & laughs.
Dance has always been a special part of my life. I spent my childhood as the token dance kid at school who could never do anything on the weekends or after school. “Sorry, I have dance” was a typical response of mine and I never minded having to turn down other invites because I enjoyed dancing so much.
Once I got into college, things shifted a little. Homework wasn’t as easy, I started having to pay my own bills (Mom, what do you mean get my own cell phone plan?) and my focus started to shift from dance being this totally all-consuming joyful thing to something I started looking at as almost a burden. Late night rehearsals and weekend shows used to be the highlight of my week and now they were causing me to sacrifice sleep and stressing me out about finding people to cover my shift at work so I could go perform somewhere. I think I was around 22 when I realized it was just getting to be too much for me. I was working full time, I was a full time student, and I was trying to be a part of (and help run) a dance team.
So what do you do when this hobby of yours has shifted from being fun to being the source of your stress? I needed to take a step back and ask myself, “What does dance mean to me? What does it do for me? Does it bring joy to my life?” DUH. Of course dance brings joy to my life. It makes me feel good in a way that nothing else can. Learning to find a balance and a space for dance in my life is what I needed to build for myself. I went from practicing a few nights a week, performing in a couple of shows a month, teaching classes and working a side job as a receptionist at the dance studio to just teaching one hour a week. And that’s it. That’s all I can really fit in my life right now is one hour of dance a week.
There is so much that goes into that hour though that I don’t experience throughout the rest of my week. I get to work with 8 seriously talented and hardworking girls. I get to be creative and comfortable in a space I grew up dancing in. I get to watch bonds form between dancers and it reminds me of all of the bonds I formed dancing. I get to be this person that these girls are depending on to help them improve and to grow as dancers. I get to challenge them each week. I challenge myself each week trying to plan my class out for them. It may only be one hour a week but I give 100% to that hour. I am prepared when I walk in that door to work with those girls. From the music for their warm up to the detail of how I want their fingertips extended in the choreography, that hour is my hour to hold onto that thing that has always brought me so much joy.
My life is still pretty busy and chaotic, but I think I thrive off of it. I work full time as a paralegal, I am finishing up my Master’s in Psychology, I work at my favorite gym, Shred415, where I’ve fallen in love with group fitness classes. When I have free time, I love traveling, wine tasting and cooking. I live a fast-paced life and I am constantly working toward my future and maintaining a balance of work and my personal life.
Even though teaching dance is an employment opportunity for me, I classify as part of my personal life, my fun time, and it is part of the balance that I need to keep myself from going crazy working at a high-paced law firm and trying to maintain my 3.8 GPA in my Master’s program. It’s crazy to think of the journey that dance has taken me on, but for where I am at in my life right now, I couldn’t be more pleased with how I’ve been able to maintain keeping it a part of my life, because dance has always truly been a defining part of who I am.