A year ago, I had an experience that affected me very profoundly. I know that some of you will probably find this to be shallow or unimportant, but to me, it was a very big deal. I was injured when I genuflected at Mass. I tore the quadriceps muscles in my right leg.
This was absolutely devastating to me. It was just a few short weeks before I was supposed to lead two dance teams in a performance during my senior year of college. I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old and had been trying to mentally prepare myself for the spring when I would have my final performance. This injury made me absolutely terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to participate in my last two performances. And I had already spent the entire semester planning, choreographing, teaching, coaching, practicing…. doing literally everything that a performance requires.
I had to go through physical therapy. I didn’t get to perform in the fall but I was able to walk out in front of the crown without crutches or my leg brace, which was a huge moment for me. I taught the last few 8-counts without being able to use one of my legs. I corrected and coached from the sidelines. I wasn’t able to walk completely unassisted until the week of Christmas.
I was so proud of my dancers! They did so much to help me and worked so much harder than they should have had to! We had to change almost everything in both routines and they did everything I asked without complaint or hesitation, even when I was being grumpy because I was in pain or upset.
They gave me the support I needed at the time. I was in a lot of pain, I was upset about all of the things that I couldn’t do, and I was struggling through classes like Biochemistry while on STRONG pain medications! To say life was hard was an understatement.
But it was like I hit a low. There were so many things that I wanted to do and every single one of them required a lot of effort on my part. So I stepped up. I latched onto every improvement and used it as motivation to get to the next one. It started with finishing choreography, passing my classes, walking on my own, and then finally, dancing again.
I could have quit there, happy that I was going to have my last dance performance. But these little improvements had become like an addiction to me. So soon I wasn’t just dancing again, I was learning moves that had previously terrified me. I was doing more than ever before. And then I graduated from college with honors!
My dancing days were done. I had come to peace with it. But I still needed improvements. So I started working out. I started recording everything I ate. I actually joined a gym. I took the point where I could do almost nothing at all and turned it into a foundation. I learned how to push myself to succeed and now I will never do anything less.
This might sound odd, but I hope you all find a low in your lives. To quote the fantastic J.K. Rowling, I hope you all have “a rock bottom on which [you can] rebuild your life.”