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A stack of stones.

I remember shedding a few tears the day I dropped the deposit check into the mailbox at my parent’s house. It would secure my spot as a graduate student in the dance education program at New York University. I know what you’re thinking…they offer degrees in dance education? Yes, and NYU says I am a master at it. Anywho…I cried because I was anxious. This was a life-altering step. Where would it lead?

It has been ten years since then, and more than a few times I wondered if it was worth it. But I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone. Life is funny in that way.

The things that seem monumental end up being just small stepping stones to where we’re really headed.

I never intended on going to the program. I auditioned because I thought it would be fun to go to New York City for a weekend. Even when I got the acceptance letter, I thought, “That’s cool, but I’m not really gonna do this,” like I had never really considered what I would do if I got accepted. Then things started shifting — mostly people telling me I should go; I’d be passing on a great opportunity if I didn’t. I started reconsidering, “Should I do this?!?”

I was still on the fence. I didn’t want to move to NYC. I’d have to take out loans. But I will never forget what a friend told me,

“You don’t want this to be the one thing you look back on in your life and regret not doing.”

I signed the form and wrote the check.

I ended up loving the program, my teachers and colleagues, the whole New York experience. I came back to Florida with bright and hopeful dreams of teaching dance at a college. But as one can imagine in the field of dance education, it was really hard to find a job in such a specific niche. Plus it was right after the recession so many were graduating into unemployment.

At the lowest points, I thought, “Why the hell did I get this useless degree? I can’t get a job with it. And I have to pay off this ridiculous loan. It’s worthless. What a waste.”

And then something amazing happened. I landed a job with one of the best ballet companies in the country — not because of my degree, but because of my experience in the program with another major ballet company. I realized my degree had been a [very expensive] stepping stone.

Had I not gone to NYU, I would’ve never gotten that job. Had I not gotten that job, I would’ve never gotten into marketing. Had I not gotten into marketing…well, I’m not sure what happens next, but I am taking tentative steps. It is frustrating that you can only see your trail in hindsight, and the way forward is uncharted territory.

But it’s enough to know that nothing that happens in your life is a waste or useless because it is all leading you to something, to where you’re supposed to be. You just have to trust that each step you’re taking is the best way forward to choose in that moment of your life. And that you’re doing the best you can. And that you’re trying to

Follow your heart. It knows the way.

Hey and if this whole marketing thing doesn’t work out, I can still teach a solid ballet class. I have a master’s degree that says so.

Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

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