Little things turn into big things, if only you let them.
Coming to IMSA, I couldn’t find words to describe myself. Like Willy Loman – from Death of a Salesman – I chased after the thought of having a talent and being known as the person without really knowing how to get there.
As a sophomore, I went to two dance classes a week. Ballet was hard and it wasn’t cool and just what if I didn’t go this week, mom? I wasn’t going to tour with a dance company or perform in the Nutcracker; there was other stuff to do, like papers and tests and becoming a scientist. Classes were just something to do.
Sometime in the fall, a new girl joined our class. Allie wasn’t as flexible as the other girls in my ballet class, and she hasn’t been dancing since birth, either. It was Allie’s first or second year in ballet so I wasn’t really sure how she was in the dance ensemble.
But then I saw her in class. There would be a combination where it was clear the step was new to her, but she didn’t let it faze her. Week after week, she gave even the simplest steps everything she had, leaving her red-faced and panting. She radiated energy. She wasn’t effortless, not in the slightest. I could see how hard she tried just to get on the same level as the rest of the girls. As the year passed, her flexibility and technique improved in leaps and bounds. By the time she graduated, it seemed as though she’d caught up on the years she’d missed.
Allie wasn’t the best dancer at first but that didn’t stop her from trying. Not a single step went without her attention. Even though Allie’s gone off to college, her effort has stuck with me. The other girls in the class didn’t try very hard at the barre or across the floor, but Allie did.
So much effort must have seemed pointless with every failure or missed leap but at the end of the year, it led her to succeed. One hour doesn’t make a dancer, but an hour a day, an hour a week… it grows into something bigger, something that’s no longer just an hour, but a part of you, something that can be used to define you. Allie didn’t start ballet until almost graduation – it’s not too late to start something new. A false start or two, a year of shitty posters, or a poor dye job but then it’ll come. The posters turn into shirt designs and you’re making senior sweatshirt; the dye jobs turn into yours, someone else’s, and then the entire hall’s. Someone will notice, and they’ll bring it up, and you realize that you may not be the best, but you’re better than you used to be. Little things turn into big things. All it takes is time.