As I sit here writing this blog post, I am truly unsure as to whether or not I will actually share this with the world. I don’t actually know how much is going to come spewing out, so bare with me if I do post this. As I sit here on my couch, with my dog and cat asleep by my side, blasting worship music, tears are rolling down my cheeks. These past two weeks have been two of the most challenging and yet growing weeks of my life.
Two weeks ago, I was very publicly bullied online and had my integrity attacked and my abilities questioned in front of thousands of people. To feel completely blindsided by false accusations, and then be bullied into having someone claim you are not worthy of where you have gotten is a feeling I truly don’t wish upon anyone. This process has made me question why I even do any of this. Why do I sacrifice so much of my life, my time, my relationships, to travel around the country to teach and choreograph? As I sit here and think about these things I am reminded of the process I have been going through with my latest launch of my digital course. Over the last year preparing to launch The Ballroom Course, I have been faced with a lot of anxiety. I have often thought about what my biggest fears are. I am almost embarrassed to even admit this, but working with a counselor I told her I believe my biggest fears with this industry are having someone say negative things about me or confirm my insecurities. And two weeks ago…I had to walk through my absolute biggest fears.
I have heard so many things regarding other people’s opinions about me over the past few years. “Who Is she to teach ballroom?” “She doesn’t even choreograph real ballroom!” “I can’t believe she gets to teach on the biggest dance convention and she hasn’t even been on TV” “Who even is she?” “She isn’t a world champion.” It is one thing to hear slandering things about yourself through the grapevine, but it’s a whole other blow when someone publicly blasts these insecurities and lies.
While it was incredibly painful to hear about this, especially given the fact that these people do not even know me, it has truly made me look at who I am and what my purpose is. What I have now realized though is that what I have once felt SO insecure about, I can actually be proud about because it’s what makes me…ME. Let me say that one more time. What were once my insecurities, I can now look at and realize that everything I have gone through today is what makes me- ME. I am so sick and tired of feeling guilty in this industry for not having media credentials or other specific accolades that people feel I need, or I felt I always needed. BUT, the truth of the matter is, I was actually able to build an influence enough to get hired to teach on a convention and choreograph all around the country….WITHOUT THOSE THINGS. And you know what, I.AM.DANG.PROUD. What I know to be true is that it isn’t just our resumes that define us, but how we serve and affect others that makes the most impact. I have spent SO many years feeling not as good as this person who was on TV, or this person who won this title, or this person who choreographed for this artist. BUT, when I strip that away and look at my life, I realize I AM living my dream of being able to teach and inspire kids…without having specific accolades I thought I HAD to have in order to do what I am doing now. And NOBODY can take that away from me. Nobody. People can think what they want, but I know that my purpose is to help others feel enough. To help others understand that it isn’t our accomplishments that truly define us. A journey I have struggled with for almost as long as I can remember, MY purpose is to share what I have walked through with as many kids that come to my classes or life in someway in hopes of leaving them more confident. And…I am qualified to do that.
I feel as if almost a filter is lifted from my eyes. What I once saw as insecurities and failures in my life, I can see as something to be proud of, because it is WHO.I.AM. I have ALWAYS taught with integrity and though other people may say I am not accomplished enough, I know that the students who actually know me, the boss’s that actually hire me, think differently…
I can PROUDLY say that I grew up as a studio dancer. I trained in every style and won over 8 national titles in the jazz and contemporary world. I WAS and am still successful. I may define success differently than some, but I know that I consider where I am to be successful. Later in my life, I fell in love with ballroom and won the world championship title at Ohio Star Ball after only a year of training and quickly was approached to move to New York City to pursue professional partnerships. So I did. I trained with coaches and my partner EVERY SINGLE DAY and competed professionally. So nobody can take that away from me, regardless if they think I have a big enough resume or not.
AND NOW? Now I fuse my jazz background with my ballroom training and teach & choreograph a latin fusion style. Now, I travel around the country and bring as much joy and confidence to others as I know how to. Is it complete traditional ballroom?? NOPE! Am I ashamed about that?? NOPE! In fact, I am beyond proud of what I create. I have created my own way of moving and style that has its roots in jazz and latin. I can truly stand tall in what I do. I have helped create an atmosphere of joy around latin style and make it accessible to studios who want to move in a new way. I can happily declare that I am not the world european ballroom champion, I have never said that I am. I have SO much respect and love for ballroom and understand there are SO many incredible ballroom coaches to help further strict ballroom training. But what I can say, is that I come from the world that most of the kids I teach come from. I walked their road. I grew up in a studio. I experienced the joys of studio sleepovers and being on a team, and also the pain of not getting picked to be in a dance or being invited to a party. I know what it’s like to feel on top of the world and win a national title, and also feeling like you are the worst dancer in the world when you don’t get the result you wanted. I have been there. Now, my mission is to help as many kids as possible to believe in themselves. To instill confidence not only in dance, but understand that our worth and purpose is so much bigger than we even understand. My classes are not about me and my accomplishments, but how I can further help others believe in themselves. That is my mission, and no person who doesn’t feel my resume is big enough can take away my God given purpose.
So for whoever may read this, understand that you are more than your accomplishments. So much more. Studio teachers, you are more than the results your students get at a competition. Dancers, you are more than the scholarship you may or may not receive. Don’t let ANYONE tell you what you can or cannot dream. You can decide to pursue your wildest dreams REGARDLESS of what other people think. Be proud of who you are because you are perfect and worthy just as you are! What I have spent years being insecure about, I will not be ashamed about anymore. I am me…and being me is perfectly enough.