So I was going through the journal that 12-year-old me wrote when my aunt took me to China (which I will put up in a separate post, and a poem fell out. Since it came out of the China journal, I assumed I wrote it around the same time. Using context clues, I realized I wrote it when I was 16-years-old. I had an idea of what I was writing about until line 7, then it hit me. I knew EXACTLY which event in my life to which I was referring. It was a pivotal moment to my performing art career. While it was a little heartbreaking to be reminded about how upsetting it was, and to see it through my writing, what I could also see through my writing that 16-yr-old. My experience reading it now at age 22 brought up a plethora of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Some of which were feelings of sadness, disappointment, even anger, but also optimism, relief, and gratitude. In contrast to how I am now, I tended to spend a significantly higher amount of time with negative energy before transcending into more positive outlooks on the situation with a better mentality and more maturity. Of course, I was dealing with the typical 16-year-old girl problems, in addition to not coping with the death of a friend well, depression/eating disorder issues, parental arguments, etc. Jeez, I was a mess (who isn’t at that stage of life?), but it didn’t last long, and I never did any drugs.
The feelings of sadness and disappointment I felt now were not towards myself, but towards how a dance company I trained with for a significant part of my life treated me. I cannot change the past, and even back then I was doing everything I could to help my situation, but to no avail. However, I am grateful for how I was encouraged to branch out into other dance styles and forms of performing arts instead of chasing the unrealistic dream of becoming strictly a ballerina. Shortly after changing my attitude, I started voice and acting lessons, and began my journey to become a more well-rounded performer.
The poem was written for my tenth grade English class, and the theme of the entire course was overcoming adversity. My perspective of adversity was adversity was a little skewed back then. Here is the backstory: I was rehearsing for the Nutcracker with the ballet company I trained with, and this year I was cast as Clara’s Best Friend, Chinese Tea, and Icicle. We have official auditions for the production, even though we dance there every day. Still, they know our skill level, our work ethic, and most importantly our body type. All of these characteristics are taken into account before the directors decide who they want to play each part. So they cast me as the above, and I rehearse my butt off to be the best I can be. Two weeks before opening night, one of the directors pulls me aside and proceeds to tell me that they have decided that my height doesn’t look right with the rest of the icicles so they are going to have someone else take my place, but would like me to continue attending rehearsals for…well I am not quite sure. Learning?–learning something I clearly will never have the opportunity to put into practice. I stood there taking it all in professionally, no tears or argument, gracefully exited (get it? I’m a dancer, HA), got into my mom’s car and cried. Later on she eventually went into the director’s office for a discussion, where the director stated “I had no idea that upset her so much.” 1) Of course not, because I can be a professional, even when seemingly impossible and 2) not that it really made a difference how I felt. Anyway, yes I was extremely hurt and discouraged by this, but I decided it would be more appealing and wise to gain skills in other areas of dance and performing arts to expand my opportunities, rather than limiting them completely by quitting.
Okay, enough “talk”, here is the poem:
The Small Ant that Wins
Prejudice is an outrageous aspect,
As a dancer, there’s no path of escape.
I am not granted with deserved respect.
But I was cast based on size, height and shape.
Being a great dancer is important,
But it means nothing if I don’t look right.
Being dropped makes me feel like a small ant,
But I will never give up the harsh fight.
People will use anything against me,
They have enough power to destroy dreams.
But this will make me strive harder, you see,
For my will is stronger than any schemes.
So because I had a major setback,
I move on and it will be me they lack.