About eight years ago, I was heading towards a degree in Art History and a career as a museum curator. On my way to study one Sunday, I heard some Afro-Cuban music on the radio and thought, "I think you can dance to this." I called up the nearest dance studio and scheduled an introductory lesson. I had no idea what to expect.
My first lesson was fantastic. I had no idea what I was doing, and I loved it. It seemed so easy; we were moving in harmony with each other and in rhythm with great music. Plus, I learned I could compete, be in shows, and wear rhinestones and fancy shoes. I was sold.
I began dancing a lot, but never planned on doing it as more than a hobby. Then as I was packing boxes to move one fall, I found a Dr. Seuss book called My Book About Me. It had all sorts of questions a kid could write in the answers for, like how old are you and how many stairs are in your house and how tall are you and what do you want to be when you grow up. Well, I was six, had 14 stairs in my house, was 3'10", and wanted to be a teacher and a dancer. It's a sign!
I got offered a job teaching shortly after that. Despite the foreshadowing from a younger me, I was tentative. I had always been shy in school and especially hated public speaking. I didn't like telling people what to do or how to tell them that they were doing something wrong. After a several months, I was no longer hesitant. I discovered I had quite a loud voice and rather liked using it in front of large groups. And I did like telling people what to do and had no problem telling them if they were doing it wrong. But mostly, I liked showing my students how fun dancing can be, whether it's for an hour, a month, or the rest of their lives.
Okay, so the novelty of rhinestones wore off as soon as they started appearing at competitions at 8am, and after a couple hours, the fancy shoes make me want to plunge my feet into a bucket of ice, but when I get home and see that page from a children's book framed on my wall, I know I'm making my six- year- old self really proud.