Laughing at the Mirror

Erin - Edwardsville, Illinois
Entered on October 7, 2008

I have learned from firsthand experience that laughter is the best medicine. If you take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive. I have been raised on a certain belief that I have carried with me my entire life. It helps me more today than ever. Learning to laugh at oneself is something that will make life a little more easier. I believe that laughing at myself is what puts me at ease.

Laughter is a quality that I learned at a very young age. Since I was four years old, until I was fourteen, I had danced. I loved sliding the ballet shoes on to my feet and tucking the bows under, and hearing the tapping sound coming from the metal plate on the bottom of the tap shoe against the tile floor. When I was younger, I was at the dance studio at least once a week. As I got older, it consumed me. I was there four days a week, four hours a day. Dancing, I felt was my passion. Every week we’d review last week’s choreography, and then add on the new steps. We prepared and prepared for months for our recital in early summer, which was a sell-out every year. This was the most intimidating part for me. I had been dancing for years and on the stage one million times and was confident, yet afraid of failure, of the mistakes that I would make. My worst nightmare was forgetting the steps, or even the entire routine.

I would ask my instructor these questions as recital time drew near every year. Every year my instructors would tell me, “If you forget the steps, make sure you keep a smile on your face and just dance. The audience probably doesn’t even know that you messed up.” This put me at ease, until the following week when my nerves took over again. I needed solid advice that would help me to let loose and dance freely; that advice later came from my father. On the day of my recital, my father knew I seemed tense, so he asked me what was wrong. I replied, “It’s just nerves.” He then told me, “Hun, you need to learn how to laugh at yourself; if you make a mistake, who cares? Laugh it off and continue on.” I thought to myself, he doesn’t even know what he is talking about. It’s easy for him to say, he isn’t the one on stage making a mistake in front of a full house. When I took the stage, my nerves had consumed me and sure enough, I forgot my steps. I began to dance with the beat of the music and eventually I caught on. At the end of the dance as we were taking a bow, I had a genuine smile on my face. I was thinking about what made me catch back on. I realized it was not letting my mistake get the best of me.