Follow Your Passion

Posted on May 19, 2011


Since writing this post last year, I’ve focused my energies on one of my other passions, family history. The same principles apply. So, I figured it was time to repost the original with a little editing to make it shorter! What’s your passion?

Nurturing Seeds Of Passion (I'm NOT in this picture!)

Have you every been so engrossed with something that hours can pass without you noticing, and even stopping to eat becomes a burden? That chaos can reign around you and you don’t notice? That you can’t stop smiling inside and out while you’re doing IT or can’t stop thinking about doing IT again? Does that thing enter your thoughts without you noticing ? And do you find it even creeping into your dreams? Have you sacrificed other things to be able to do it? If you haven’t then you’ve never experienced passion. And therefore, haven’t lived yet.

I have a passion for ballet. Since I was a teenager I danced. I’d ride my bike to and from the dance studio, and my mom would drive me into the city to take lessons a couple of times a week. I went away to school my senior year of high school to dance for hours every day, sometimes six days a week. I was living in Heaven! Choreographers going for a somber mood would get frustrated with me because I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing as I was totally engrossed with the music, the movement and the connection I had to the other dancers. I loved the sweat, the smells, the pain, and even the mean teachers who pushed me to dig deeper and give more than I thought I had in me to give. I loved living in leotards and tights and being so hungry I’d feel lighter than air. I loved knowing I could jump higher than any basketball player, had more wind than a hockey player, and could climb a mountain without breaking a sweat! When one of my teachers suggested going to college and majoring in ballet I reluctantly agreed and went to the University of Utah. Dance AND get an education? I didn’t even know that was an option.

The bubble burst pretty quickly. I was very discouraged  being assessed and graded for my dancing. It was so competitive and I was failing. I felt so pressured and out of control. I remember the moment I decided to “try” being anorexic. I could control THAT part of my life…Little did I know about the disease that nearly killed me. I just couldn’t stand not dancing for the love of it. I’d lost my passion for my passion! I knew that I wasn’t the best dancer. There’s always someone better. My spirit just yearned to dance. Plain and simple. But I let my insecurities get to me. I gave up. I immersed myself in hours of aerobics classes every day, depleting my energy and my bank account. At least I wasn’t thinking about ballet any more.

I’d made up an ultimatum in my mind. It was all or nothing. I thought I could never be happy dancing unless I danced well. Or so I told myself. And that would mean at least two hours a day in class and another few added on in rehearsals. Never mind the time away for performances. What was really going on, which took me years to discover, was that I didn’t know how to NOT be obsessed with something I loved doing AND my brain needed excessive exercise to feel normal.

So, a quarter of a century later,with only a handful of classes to count, I have to say, I know from experience how important it is to find your passion(s) and enjoy it fully! It’s as important to who I am as anything else. It’s what makes me unique. I’m learning to take advantage of opportunities that come my way. I refuse to let money be the thing that keeps me from being fulfilled. Sometimes the lack of it can let me know if it’s a true passion if I’m willing to sacrifice time working to fund it! I know that I deserve to feel bliss in this life.

And that we all need mentors. It’s important to look for someone who will take me under his wing and guide and teach me. I’ve learned that I will never rise to my potential unless I’m stretching towards someone who’s on higher ground. But, I look for the best. Someone who’ll laugh at me in weakest moment and say, “I don’t care! Keep dancing!”, like my teachers did when I complained about bleeding, sore feet. And  I’ve learned to share what I love. To be vulnerable. No matter how inept I feel. I’ve noticed that it’s uncomfortable to grow. The best part will be having no regrets because I’ve lived fully, with purpose. I’ll have been ME. The only one who’ll ever exist who CAN be me!

Betsy Cross

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