I sat in the hotel conference room watching each dancer perfect their every move. I thought back to the day in dance class when they told me I had been chosen to compete for solos in Ireland. I remembered how excited I was but at the same time scared for what was ahead. Twelve hours a week being drilled and drilled until we knew our steps like the ABC’s. I spent more time with my dance family than I did with my immediate family. A sharp pain that shot through my leg interrupted my trip down memory lane. I got up from my chair and tried to force my leg to stand on its own, but it was no use. My teacher walked over to me and told me that she found it highly unlikely I would be competing in Ireland that year. I looked around at all my friends that I had practiced with for the past year and it suddenly hit me that I might not be able to compete. My tendons had enough and decided that it wasn’t my time. I was carried to my room to wait until the next morning hoping for a miracle.
I woke up early to find that I could somewhat walk on my leg, but could I dance on it? I met everyone in the same conference room from the night before to find hairspray fumes, mounds of make-up, and girls bouncing around with their curly hair. I limped over to my teacher and told her that I wanted to compete. She looked at me confused and advised me not to. No one wanted me to compete because they didn’t want me to hurt my leg anymore when it didn’t seem possible for me to qualify for the next round. I honestly didn’t think I could either, but they told me it was my choice. I had two hours until my competition so I got ready and walked through my steps while trying to push back the feeling of a thousand knives in my leg.
After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime my number was called to the stage. My teacher gave me a pep talk saying just to have fun and not worry about qualifying. The music started and shivers ran up my spine that seemed to clear away the pain. Hands down, chin up, smile, and point. Three minutes is all you get to show the judges you’re the one. On my last step I faltered as my leg grew tired and I fell to the ground. My leg refused to move anymore so I stood there with a smile and a point. I limped off stage disappointed. I knew it was over since it was unheard of for someone to fall and still qualify. My teacher and friends told me I looked great, but I didn’t believe it.
Later that day we met in the grand hall to hear who qualified. As numbers were flashed on the board I wasn’t even looking for my own, but suddenly I found myself surrounded by people who were congratulating me. I had qualified to the next round!
Ever since that day I believe in the impossible. That day changed the way I define possible and impossible. No one including myself thought that I could compete with my leg let alone qualify after not finishing. I was unable to compete again because of my leg but just knowing that I qualified was enough of an award for me.
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