After five weeks of being home, I flew back to Pittsburgh, feeling as if I was starting completely over again. The same gut-wrenching pain crept in, taking over my ability to try to think positively. I hoped that being reunited with my friends would overpower my doubtful attitude, but unfortunately this was not the case. It was a huge sign that things weren’t how they should be when my uneasiness and unhappiness grew stronger than my love for friends.
A true advantage, however, was being able to learn from some of the most outstanding artists with so much knowledge and experience in my new dance classes. I knew how great of an advantage this was, and yet still felt unhappy while in class. When I found that my goals and dreams started to frustrate me, when I lost my peace and wasn’t enjoying myself, that was a sign something needed to change.
“When I lost my peace and wasn’t enjoying myself, that was a sign something needed to change.”
I stood there in class thinking, “I don’t want to be a professional dancer. I don’t want to be with a professional company when I’m older. So why am I even here? Am I wasting my time?” At this point in the year, I could tell the difference between feeling homesick and feeling uncertain about my future. Dance wasn’t just about doing it for fun anymore, it was about making it a career. After much thought, I decided this route was not for me. This is not what I want to do the rest of my life. I was only back from break for three days when I made the call to my parents that I was done. So my parents got a flight, I packed up all my stuff, withdrew from the school, said goodbye to my closest friends, and was out of there in two days. I hope you believe me when I say it wasn’t easy.
Ever since I’ve been home, I’ve felt like a million bricks have been lifted off my shoulders. Right now, I am happier than I have been in a very long time. When I left Pittsburgh, my plan was to come home to attend Texas Christian University for fashion merchandising. I patiently waited for months to receive an acceptance letter, and finally, after many prayers and wishes, I got it. I don’t think you could have seen anyone else in this world happier than I was at that moment. Not only did I get into the school that feels like home in my heart, but it was confirmed that my plan was finally going to work.
Yes, I miss dance greatly. It was my life! I chose it because for me at the time, there was no other option. I will always consider myself a dancer because it is what made me who I am. Dance taught me how to take rejection and instruction, how to be who I want to be, and how to be confident and strong both physically and mentally. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. Would I have regrets if I hadn’t gone to Point Park in the first place? Definitely. I would have always wondered what I could have been missing out on. I would have seen my friends there and thought, “That could be me.” Now that I have experienced it for myself, I know the answer and I can stand strong in knowing what I truly want to pursue as a career. Leaving home, although I’m not good at it, taught me a lot as well. I became more mature and independent because of it. I had to learn things and figure out things by myself. Would I want to do it again? No, but I am glad I grew from the experience.
“I would have always wondered what I could have been missing out on.”
If I had the choice to go back and change everything leading up to this point—fifteen years of dance, Booker T. Washington, Point Park University—I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, no matter the struggles, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. All I can really say is I am beyond lucky to have parents that support me and my decisions 100 percent. Not only did I receive great support from them, but from my friends as well. I am thankful for true friends who loved me at my worst, and acted as a spark of light in my darkest moments. Most of all, I am thankful for my God. I am not the ruler of my fate. He has a plan and a purpose for all who trust completely in Him. I quickly found that His plans are always better than mine and, without that, I couldn’t have been so sure about what’s best for me. So to those out there who don’t know the answers, I’m letting you know that it is okay to change your mind. Sometimes quitting is okay! It might not come easy, but the ending result may be a blessing greater than you could have ever imagined. And that’s where I am today.
“So to those out there who don’t know the answers, I’m letting you know that it is okay to change your mind.”
Aubrey, I don’t think you know just how many of us (of all ages!) can relate to your college journey thus far. Thank you a hundred times for sharing your beautiful, inspiring, hope-filled story of pursuing dreams in the face of obstacles, and being open to experiencing growth—however painful—in the process. It’s a skill that will always prove useful, and your faith and confidence will continue to grow every time you use it. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
If you missed it, you can read part 1 of Aubrey’s story here.