DREAM. Go for it.
Those words embellished the right side of a cardboard poster from one my eighth grade projects. Ms. Johnson assigned this project to the class, challenging us to define ourselves. On the top right corner, it needed to be a motto we live by. At 12 years old, I didn’t know much, but that was my motto and can’t help but smirk a little thinking back to my awkward, lanky, pre-teen self, having clarity in words to live by. Fast forward a decade later, and it’s soothing to say that some things never change.
A dream of mine that only came in fruition within the past several years was to go professional with dancing. That is, NBA/NFL style. Being a passion of mine, I’ve always saw dance as a hobby, and something I did on the side. As I danced for the Buffs in college and dedicated over 30 hours a week to it, “pastime” did not serve justice what dance meant to me. Via 5:00AM alarms, night practices, and giving up holiday breaks to practice with my team, being a member of the CU Dance Team was stitched in the fabric of my identity, embedded in who I was, and was essentially a massive asset to defining who I was. I took pride in being a part of CUDT, which reflected in person I was growing into. Some of my teammates had danced professionally, and I admired them so much for it. It was an intangible dream for me, until senior year approached, and I knew I was not ready to give up being on a dance team. I tried out for my first professional team, dancing for the Major Lacrosse League. I loved it. I just knew that was the niche where I need to be. It’s hard to describe, but I guess it’s what folks say about Love. You just know. So I made my dream to be items on my “To-Do List”, things to check off in reality, and not stay in the realm of dreams.
So a little over a week ago, I went to my first NFL Cheerleader audition…
Trying out for one of my dream teams, terrified is an understatement. But that’s almost how I knew it was something I had to do. I remember clutching my headshots and applications in my right hand, walking up to the immaculate venue and taking deep breaths. I prayed while I stretched, and took my brain to a level of focus, charged by the desire to do well. A couple hours later, 49 numbers were called to advance to a week-long process of finals, mine included. Elation ran through my veins, and that moment of pure bliss is something I’ll remember forever.
Now with risks, you either get the biscuit or you don’t. In the scheme of auditions, one puts herself out there, open to judgement, critique, and a fate rested in a panel of judges. There is constant expectation to show this panel what you’re made of. It’s the ultimate test of rhetoric. I primed myself to perform at my best and be at my best at all times. During the week-long process, it was all I thought about. I talked to myself a lot. This in turn, was a personal growing experience: I really had to know myself to show others who I was in a short span of time. I learned about how I reacted in times of pressure, and learned to cope with it. I learned to take in feedback and implement that to improve. I was outside my comfort zone in the midst of extremely talented and beautiful women. I had to train myself on confidence. I had to trust the process.
The tryouts ended with a final showcase open to the public, and all our work this week was encompassed into two and a half hours. At the end of the night, the new team was announced. I remember being paralyzed from nervousness/anxiousness and my mind spinning. Typing this out takes me right back to that circle of NFL Cheerleader hopefuls, all holding hands and looking down, deep in curiosity of the new team. I remember my number not being called and my heart dropping. I remember the number of a friend being called out and feeling on cloud nine for her. I remember the ten minutes of silence after as I packed my things to leave. I remember hugging my family and sobbing on my mom’s shoulder, only for a moment though because she started crying and saying how proud she was.
Two days later, the week still lingers in my mind, and the feelings of the past week gives me tingles in my fingertips. I think back to the final show. When I’m on stage, I forget about my hamstring that painfully tugs at me whenever I lift my right leg. I forget about the feeling of wanting to vomit all week from too many butterflies. I forget about the literal blood, sweat, and tears that went into the process. All that is trivial matter when I get to perform with amazing people. Last week was one of the coolest and inspiring experiences of my life. I could do this ten days a week, free of charge. It’s a labor of love. THIS is why I do what I do. THIS is why it’s my dream.
I’m grateful to have danced with the women that I did — serious talent that made everyone bring their A-game. I’m grateful for the directors, judges, volunteers, and alumni — the tremendous amount of work they put in is unreal, and not unnoticed. I’m grateful for the corrections and feedback to push me to improve. I’m grateful for the friends along the way who’ve helped with everything, from rhinestoning my top, to daily motivational texts, to well wishes, to wisdom. I’m grateful for the friends who did this with me, because that sisterhood bond is something I will cherish. I’m grateful for the new friends coming out of this week, and humbled to have more remarkable people in my life. I’m grateful to have a healthy body to move and groove and keep doing what I love. To have so many people invest in me and believe in me is something I will never be able to truly repay; I am extremely grateful. This past week has brought out so much love and support in my life, and is the ultimate blessing. It’s not the biscuit I originally had in mind, but this biscuit came in the form of a pleasant surprise.
As I sit writing away in a coffee shop in the company of my latte, I am trying to hold back some tears. Happy ones. Normally I just do me in a coffee shop, but today, there is a commercial being shot here, so I actually don’t want to be in the background sobbing. I know I cry when I watch The Lion King or during fireworks shows, but the lump in my throat right now is a genuine measurement of the impactful week I’ve had. My heart is so full. I am so happy, and so fueled to go for it again. I loved pushing to be my best at all times. I will take that wherever I go: at my job today, being there for my little siblings, my next interview, or at practice with my teammates. And I will keep pushing myself in all endeavors of life, and hope you will, too. Don’t give up on what you want.
Dream. Go for it. From 12 to 22, my word stays strong. And so it will when I am 32 ,and you bet when I’m 72. Cheers to that, and cheers to dreams.