I believe that we learn the most about ourselves when we are pushed to our limits. We learn how far we can really go and how much we can really endure.
Last winter, I was faced with a major decision: after eleven years of traditional Indian dance training, should I perform my Bharatnatyam Arangetram, a four-hour performance, to become certified as a teacher? I embarked on this ambitious journey with two of my best friends. Little did we know how much this journey would truly change us.
As a motivated tennis player and a ruthless scholar, dance had to become my first priority for the next six months. We would visit my dance teacher’s house once a week, practice on our own everyday, and watch past performances to view perfection. The payal that we wore on our feet, to accentuate intricate foot movement, bruised and cut the tops of our feet. Our muscles ached in places we did not know existed. Our school work was always building up. The stress was beginning to eat away at us, making us emotional and tired constantly. I had no time to waste anymore—I cut out social time, personal relaxation, and pleasurable activities.
Upon pursuing this endeavor, that lack of passion I had for dance transformed, from none, to a spark of interest, to an admiration for the complexity of the art, to a maturity that was far beyond my age, to an endless understanding of the dedication it takes to reach perfection, which all led me to an eventual passion, without which I would have failed to reach the final culmination. July 19th, the day of the performance, my anxiety was at a high. Getting ready took four hours to get the hairpiece, make-up, outfit, and accessories in place. However, once I walked onto the stage, I saw the hundreds of people who had come just to support me on this day. My confidence sky-rocketed as I finally realized how ready I felt. At the end, my guru (teacher) commented on the performance, as is tradition, claiming that the performance blew people away as our skills had elevated to a level of perfection and our passion had emitted through each step. Her guiding presence in my life, since my youngest years, has impacted me in so many ways—her heartfelt words touched me, bringing me to tears on stage.
By pushing myself to such an extreme, not only was the performance a success, but I had developed a confidence and passion I had never known existed. I believe that very few people ever endure such a rewarding experience, because quite frankly, people are scared to push themselves too hard. I am telling you that there is no such thing as pushing yourself too hard because, ultimately, you will discover something about yourself that will stun and change you forever.