Happy July – wow it’s getting hot in here…! I’m enjoying the last rays of sun here in Finland before I’m back in my usual grind in London next week!
When I was five years old, my mom took me to see ballet.
That night, everything changed for me.
I still remember this performance like it was yesterday…those three beautiful girls in their ballet costumes and pointe shoes, flying across the stage and creating such magic I was drawn to a different reality.
That night, I decided I will become a ballet dancer.
(I also told that to my mom and any fellow audience members who were in the hearing distance. I guess I sounded so determined that my mom promised to take me to a ballet class. #SMALLWINS)
14 years later I graduated as a classical ballet dancer with a III-tier training in classical (and the hardest, if you ask me) Russian Vaganova training.
Well, this is quite something…
I was close to quitting.
I actually quit once, for a period few months but then thought that was silly.
Already then I knew I’m not a quitter.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but ballet depends significantly on your body shape and proportions plus the other attributes you have or have not been given at birth such as openness of hips, lines of legs, ankle curve and structure…
Well, it seemed like I was not given these goodies at birth.
It was quite the opposite, really.
By the age of 12 I could have been called F-A-T in ballet world.
By the age of 15 I was 176 cm / 5.9” tall and I can tell you this is not a great height for a ballet dancer.
But you know what?
I still remembered those three girls dancing on stage when I was 5 years old.
This desire was burning.
And it was burning hard.
I knew this desire isn’t going anywhere.
So, I persisted, even when I didn’t know if I’d ever make it.
And listen, I was 12 back then.
This is an age where you play with Barbies.
Not a time to contemplate your weight.
Seeing my frame from the mirror, stretching my body over the barre, perfecting my plie’s and tendus even 6 nights a week.
The mirror doesn’t lie – and I realised I cannot shave my shoulders off.
I thought I am more than my frame.
And I’m certainly more than my weight and height.
I decided I’m going to be the one with personality.
I decided I’m going to be the one with the biggest leaps.
I decided I’m going to be the one who’s going to do 32 fouettees first in my school (high achievement in any ballet standards).
By the age of 15, I got accepted into Finnish National Ballet summer program. The head principal said I definitely didn’t have the body but that I had such determination and ‘that something’ she had never seen before.
At 16, I applied to the last level of studies and the final exam was to perform to a live audience. My chosen variation was Kitri’s entrance from ballet Don Quixote and during the very first jump, the zipper from my dress burst from the seams and I had to keep the bustier in place with willpower alone for the rest of my number. I thought it was game over. The next day, our local newspaper wrote: ‘a number with high jumps and full of confidence’.
I got accepted to finish my studies.
At 17, we entered the world of pas de deux (dancing with boys). I was nervous and my height and weight were making me even more so. How on earth will these guys lift me at all because I’m so big?!
Day one, I was the only girl sat on the shoulders of my partner. It happened so quickly I didn’t even realise the whole thing. As it turns out, you need collaboration in pas de deux: I jump, he lifts. Collaboration at its best. We did it together.
By the end of my final years, I was performing the leading roles in nearly all of the productions and I was given several opportunities to grow. My teacher loved my discipline, going all in and working hard to make the performance an outstanding one. I only had one objective: to give the audience such an experience they would travel into another world, just like I did when I was 5 years old.
I had fallen in love with what I saw from the mirror – I saw me.
Today, the dancer is still here and she’s not going anywhere.
What’s the mindset you think the 12-year-old me had, to make my dream come reality?
What about you…
What’s your dream?
Is it still alive?
Are you keeping it alive?
Do you listen to others when you make your way closer to your dream?
Do you stumble when it gets real hard?
Do you quit when the only thing you hear is no?
Do you keep believing in yourself and tell yourself ‘one day’…
Listen, Wander Woman.
This life is so short.
(And, even a 12-year-old can do this.)
This is all about courage and confidence.
Courage to step up and think bigger. Courage to be YOU.
Confidence to show up and get the stuff done. Even all you hear is no.
Anything that is valuable doesn’t come for free.
You need to work for this stuff.
How much are your dreams costing you?
I’d love to hear…
Do it for you. You’re worth it. You deserve to be happy.
(And let me know how it goes…I’d love to cheer for you x)
With love, success and abundance
Ps. I did those 32 fouettees! My teacher bought cake for everyone to celebrate so it really was a win-win-win J
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