At the age of ten my parents separated, and my sisters and I were forced to move form Ireland to the United States, home to my mother. The kids at my new school were so different than Irish children, the girls all had fluffy bangs, and the boys wore their baseball caps backwards. Where I was from the children hadn’t yet discovered how to act or dress cool, and I hadn’t realized that there were so many things one had to do to fit in. My new peers teased me about my accent, my cloths and my heritage, and consequently I became painfully shy. I remember one day in particular, I went to school feeling really good because I was wearing my favorite dress my mother had bought me in Ballsbridge, Dublin. It was red, with blue and yellow embroidery and a bow at the back. The girls asked me if I thought I was too old to be wearing dresses. I didn’t know there was a cut off age for these types of things. I examined the other girls they all appeared to be wearing brown corduroy pants, button up plaid shirts with collars and Doc Martens. Throughout the day I could hear my classmates mimicking my accent as they gave my dress sour glances. Needless to say the kids weren’t exactly lining up to be my friends.
I missed everything about Ireland, especially my weekends which I spent traveling across the country competing in Feis’s (Irish dance competition). As I so frequented these competitions not being able to compete in them had left a huge void in my life.
Soon after the move my mother found me a private ballet teacher, SallyAnne Mulcahy. After a few classes with SallyAnne, I began to see dance in a completely different light. All of my teachers before her had simply taught me their dance steps, and then I performed them, or rather mimicked them. But this was different; SallyAnne had inspired me to dance as if the steps were my own. I was feeding my body and soul with inspiration and an adrenaline rush. It was as if she had somehow engaged my spirit with my body, as though she had handed me my own personal muse.
This muse brought me not only inspiration but also confidence, which wasn’t limited to the dance studio. Back at school I had carried my muse with me, and it showed. My new found sense of self drove me to open up to my new class mates, and to find friends among them. I began understanding who I was; I wasn’t so shy anymore, I was proud to be me, and I was proud of where I came from.
My muse is still here, she hasn’t left me. I still get that same invigorating feeling when I dance. This gift gave me the strength I needed when I immigrated and it’s helped me time and time again since. I am so grateful for my muse.
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