You’ve been rehearsing for this day for months and you have invested time, passion, money, and your whole heart into this — and you wait there before the curtain, sweating, shaking, gulping, anticipating the worst case scenarios, fearing that your months of practice will be ruined by a momentary failure and your knees will give in to the weakness you feel in them and you’ll fall — and you’ll ruin every chance you had of making it big. Your head spins with toxic thoughts…Will the audience like my performance? What if I mess up….what will the world think? My instructor will never forgive me, but more importantly, I’ll never forgive myself. There are so many ballet dancers, anyway. I’m just a number. How could I possibly be this nervous? I have given up so much to be on this stage and I’m finally going to get a chance to display my passion, I have practiced my ballet routine with near perfection — and yet, why do I feel like I am not ready? Should I run backstage?…Oh no. The curtains are opening, it’s now or never. I have to make a decision.
This scenario is all too familiar for us. Perhaps we aren’t all ballet dancers, but we are all human beings with dreams, and if you are reading this, I hope that you are able to relate to some of what I’m going to share today.
Just like the ballet dancer, we are all a moment, or a curtain away from a life changing decision, and even though we may prepare for an outcome of a desire to the best of our abilities, and even though we may sacrifice more than words can ever describe, and even though we know we have it in us to take that leap, we can never prepare for the fright of the stage, and that is my point precisely today — you will never feel ready.
You may be ready, but you will not feel ready, because when the heat of the moment circles in on you, whether it is interviewing for a new job, applying to graduate school, pursuing a romantic interest, deciding that you want to give up what you have now in pursuit of a dream that you desire, starting a new life in a different city, country, continent — you will not feel ready. Any chance you take on your life that holds the possibility of altering your future is a chance taken through weeks, months, or maybe even years of deliberation.
There is a reason for you taking a chance, and the common denominator of the reason is that you want better. You want to be better and you want to challenge the status quo of today for a better life tomorrow. Everything you do today is a preparation for that moment on the stage.
There are muffled voices inside of you that whisper to you every day — they tell you that you can do it. Listen to that voice because it speaks the truth, a truth that you cannot deny.
When you get on that center stage, when you are so close to having what you have wanted forever, when you are sailing the turbulent waters and you begin to see the horizon, when you have been in pain and you finally begin to see the light, when you are so incredibly close to achieving what you have wanted — I want you to remember that your inner voice led you there, and just how these voices did not abandon you in time of hardship, you shouldn’t abandon them in the heat of anxiety.
Over the last two years, I have observed and heard many people’s anxieties about their futures, and I’ve had the chance to analyze my own, and I found that we are all on the center stage, some of us got their earlier and some of us have just made it, and the curtains will open any moment — and just like the ballet dancer, we are contaminated with fear, of failing, of disappointing, of performing poorly, thinking that we are not good enough, believing that our competition is just too strong. It’s this critical moment where our actions determine what will happen next — now we can give up and convince ourselves that we are simply not good enough, or we can scrape up every last piece of courage we have and give it our best shot.
To anyone who feels that they can relate with these sentiments, I write this with every bit of courage I have. Do be afraid of your competition because you do not know who they are — yes, you may be correct in assessing who they might be, but you still don’t know who exactly they are, and they might be the brightest person on paper, but perhaps they lack a key ingredient that you may have. Better yet, do not even think about your competition, focus on who you are, the beautiful things you have to offer, he talents you have, and how you can express these different colors you carry — how can you use these colors to paint your story? The dark colors, the bright ones, the ones that fall in the middle — they all complement who you are today.
A ballet performance is more than a routine, it is a display of hard work, of grace, of bravery — and your name is just the same. You are more than your resume, the numbers that rank you; you are an accumulation of your hard work, your bravery, and your performance in life will be a graceful performance that outlines a very unique story you have weaved together through defeating odds, and the audience will bear witness to it.
Do not for one moment think that you are not good enough because your competitors are more worthy than you, because perceiving that our competitors are better, is just that — a perception.
And so I ask you today, when you are on the stage, and your hands shake and your heart beats fast, and the curtains are about to open — will you perform, or will you run backstage?