For most of my senior year I have been in some type of foot cast, whether it be a boot or a surgical shoe. I’ve been facing foot injuries this year due to training for college auditions and rehearsing for my studio’s ballet performance. These injuries have kept me from dancing and made me rethink the path of my future. At first, I let this get me down. I saw this injury as a big setback, but in the end, I’ve learned to see it as a blessing.
When things like injuries, illnesses and other events society has been trained to see as setbacks, don’t be discouraged. See these times as an opportunity, a time to learn something about oneself or discover a new hobby. Through my many months of sitting out at dance classes, I’ve had a chance to sit back and take a break from the life that I have been used to for nearly 17 years.
In an article published in Psychology Today, it is stated that taking breaks “can help you keep your goals in the spotlight.” In this specific article, the breaks being discussed are from things like work, so the breaks are meant to clear the head as one returns to work in a reasonable amount of time. However, I think the benefits of these short breaks can transfer over to prolonged breaks as well.
Some of the benefits of taking breaks discussed in the article include promoting productivity and creativity, preventing decision fatigue and promoting better decision making.
For me, I’ve had my heart set on being a ballet teacher, which included training for four years in college for many hours a day. This break that my injury has provided me made me rethink my decision on what I am going to major in at Butler University. Because I’ve been able to slow down and listen to my body, I know that putting my body through four years of intense training wouldn’t be the best option. Taking a break allowed me time to make new decisions that would benefit me in the long run. This led me to discover a new major to pursue that would still allow me to be connected with dance: Youth and Community Development with a concentration in Arts Administration.
Not only has this break allowed me to make healthier decisions for myself, but I have also discovered creative ways to keep dancing that have helped keep me happy during a time that I would otherwise be upset. Being a dancer, creativity is part of creating beautiful dances, but I haven’t been able to let my creative juices flow in the way that I’m used to. However, I’ve gotten creative with dancing, like experimenting with taking class seated in a chair. It isn’t the same, but it is a form of doing what I love.
Another benefit I’ve felt during my season of waiting is discovering new things about myself that make me happy. I’ve learned that I really enjoy painting and journaling, things that I used to not really have the time for. I started painting pictures of some of my favorite memories and for friends and family. I also found that journaling was a really great way for me to relieve stress and decided to start creating my own bullet journal to document my freshman year of college starting in the fall. Taking this step back from my “normal” life has allowed me to discover things about myself that I didn’t know before.
When experiencing a major or minor life setback, remember to keep a positive attitude. I’m not saying you have to be completely happy about the situation you are in. It’s okay to be upset about it. I know I’ve cried and grieved many times as I tried to adjust. But, know that this change in pace can be a good time to learn about yourself. Reimagine the things that make you happy, learn some new hobbies, discover something new about yourself and, most importantly, don’t see the pause as a setback. See it as a time for self growth.