When I was younger, my mother put me in a number of dance classes: tap, ballet, jazz. I loved the dancing. I’ve always loved dancing and this was a place where I could hone that love and then show off on stage – something else I loved.
This picture is from a dance recital when I was about 5 or 6. I remember this one very well for two reasons: 1) I still have one of the outfits from this recital; and, 2) I lost my tap shoe in one of the dances.
I remember being upset that I had lost the shoe but equally determined to keep dancing and going through the routine that I had worked so hard to learn and remember for this recital.
And here I am, nearly 40 years later, still dancing with only one shoe.
My life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Not by a long shot. And I’ve done a lot of soul searching since my divorce 6 years ago. I’ve come to realize that we’re all dancing with one shoe. Very few people are in a place they imagined they would be when they were 5 or 6, or even where they thought they would be when they were 16 or 17, or….on and on.
What happens when we are hit with the unexpected? How do we respond? How do we handle the challenges that we are given?
In social work circles this is called “resilience.” Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” Resilience looks different for each and every person. Sometimes, quickly is a couple of weeks. For others, it’s a couple of years. And for even others, it is the capacity to move on while not ever fully recovering from a trauma or traumatic event.
Now, losing a shoe in a dance recital is not really that big of a challenge for many folks. For little me, it wasn’t that big of a deal, either. But, the failure of my marriage has defined me in many different ways. I spent the first year doing some soul searching and learning myself, defining myself in ways that I wanted to be defined. I challenged myself in different ways and I weathered the ups and downs of losing jobs and figuring out how best to work through those times.
Then, I started school. I went back to college for my graduate degree and really found out who I wanted to be through the love and support of my mentor and my students. I found my family in them and discovered how I wanted to be defined for myself, rather than by anyone else. I learned and expanded my horizons, accepting challenges that I never would have accepted before. I finally feel like I’m becoming the woman that I always wanted to be and wasn’t allowed to be because of restrictions placed on me by the one person who was supposed to love and support me unconditionally.
So, who am I? Well, I’m a 45-year-old woman who is learning how to go through life with one shoe missing and still doing the steps necessary to reach the place I want to be, to become the woman I know that I can be.
The lesson? Dance with one shoe missing and love every minute of it. Your journey will take you places you never expected and your dreams with change and evolve with you. And while you may step on a rock or thorn, don’t let that deter you from your journey.
Because your journey is yours, defined by only you.
No matter how you take your journey, no matter where you’re walking or the shoes you chose to walk in, the show must always go on. Never let anyone deter you from your dreams and don’t be afraid to walk to places that you never considered before. You might be pleasantly surprised.