I believe in encouragement.
Many, many years ago, I remember confessing to a close friend that I wanted to be a dancer. This friend of mine laughed. “Ha! A dancer? You’re fat, you have no rhythm, and you are dreaming. Choose something else, or you’ll fail miserably.”
OK. So he didn’t quite say all that. In fact, I think all he really did was laugh out loud. But then his silent head-shaking and pitiful sigh, translated to all that in my own head. I do remember him saying that I should go for something else because I will probably fail miserably. Those words stung, especially coming from a close friend.
Needless to say, that person is no longer a close friend of mine. I mean, I ran into him on Facebook recently so he’s a “friend” now, but that’s really a misnomer.
Well at that time if I were not the same person, I could have sulked in bed and pondered the pain of one person crushing my dream with a few words. No, I wasn’t that type of person. I fought him on this, and I channeled that angry energy towards reaching my dream. I took his negativity as a challenge.
Years later, I found myself auditioning for a dance group who performed in downtown San Antonio. I made it, and lo and behold, I was performing every weekend in the summer at the Arneson River Theater.
I invited this belittling friend to come to the show, and he stayed for the entire performance. The show included Mexican Folklorico, Flamenco, country, jazz, and popular dance styles. It was mostly for the tourists, but I had a lot of fun. At the end of each show, the dancers formed a line in front of the audience and stayed for an informal meet & greet.
He came up to me and said, “You did it! I’m sorry I doubted you.”
It was the best feeling in the world. Not because I wanted to throw it in his face and yell, “I told you so!” But because I made him a believer in me. I proved to him–and to me–that anyone can accomplish his or her dream.
And today, I’m dancing with a professional dance company in my home town of San Antonio. I’ve traveled as part of the dance company to Buffalo, New York; Nashville, Tennessee; Las Vegas, Nevada; Xalapa, Verazruz, Mexico; and all throughout Texas. I’ve performed at the Arneson River Theater, on the Today Show, at Opryland, and (as pictured above) with the San Antonio Symphony in the Majestic Theater!
So maybe I should thank my belittling friend. Without his laughing outburst, I might have never gotten so angry as to create the momentum I needed to launch me into the path of performing with a dance company.
Nah… I would have accomplished this anyway because of my drive to succeed in dance. But I often wonder, what if he had supported me, encouraged me to pursue my dream. What then? Would I still be in the same place today?
It doesn’t matter. Because I’m here now and enjoying every crazy minute of the dance!
Image source: Private collection of the Luis Garcia, Jr. Estate.