Dealing With Injuries: Getting Over a Mental Roadblock
An overwhelming majority of the time, dance is an incredibly positive experience. Dance has taught me to push myself beyond not only what I am capable, but what I can imagine is possible. Consistently, I am reminded that with dedication and commitment, even the seemingly impossible is achievable. However, injuries are often hard to recover from, and beyond just physically; mentally, it can be tough not focusing on negatives and the training time you will “lose”. In my experience, I had a difficult time getting over that mental roadblock after an injury a few years ago, but once I set my mind to more positive thinking, it enabled me to return to doing what I love.
From the moment I started taking dance classes as a 10-year-old, I knew that I wanted to continue dancing until I physically could not. My teachers always told me to dance with as much effort as possible every rehearsal, because one day I wouldn’t be physically capable of dancing anymore. Dreadfully, I thought about how miserable I would be then, never imaging that my fate would almost come just a few years later. After training for a few seasons and finally landing my dream role of Clara in the Nutcracker, the following year I brimmed with excitement for my new role as Spanish soloist. Just weeks before opening night, however, I tore two ligaments in my ankle. Devasted, I sobbed when the doctor told me my diagnosis; I would never be able to dance on pointe again. My biggest nightmare had come true, and I was absolutely destroyed. After months of physical therapy and little improvement, I left my studio and joined my school drill team. As the weeks passed and my injury began healing, a feeling became stronger until it overtook all my thoughts; I yearned to dance again.
My attitude shifted from viewing my injury as a hopeless, lost cause, to being grateful that I can dance at all and using every opportunity I have to its fullest. Though having a strong connection to my high school brought me friends and attention, I knew returning to dance would be the right decision. The following season, I optimistically auditioned for the Allegro Precision Dance Company. Fingers crossed, I patiently waited until the results came back; I had made the team. With daily conditioning, I was even able to return to pointework. Over the summer, I was able to teach my first class independently. Towards the end of the class, I became overcome with happiness and my eyes began watering uncontrollably. Twelve girls and boys danced amongst themselves, each captivated in their own world. Before I could reach the speaker to stop the music, tears of joy began rushing down my cheeks. Finally, I was back where I knew I belonged. I realized that all the tears lost over my injury led to tears of genuine joy, and that shifting back to a positive mindset helped me come back to my passion.