5 Things I Wish I Could Say to My Teenage Self

Wonder of Ballet may earn a small commission via certain links.

Adult ballet dancer performs an arabesque pose from the ballet Giselle.
Photo above by L.M. Sorenson

Do you ever wonder what you would say to your teenage self if you could go back in time?

I have been wondering about that lately. 

Today I turn thirty-one years old, and for some reason, thirty-one feels more monumental to me than thirty. 

It has finally dawned on me: I am officially, officially in my thirties. 

There’s no going back. 

This fact feels more real to me this year than it did last. 

And so, I have been reflecting on my experience with ballet. 

I took my first ballet class when I was fifteen, and I've been obsessed with the art form ever since.

It’s hard to believe that ballet has been with me for more than half of my life. I still feel like a beginner in so many ways. 

Sometimes I look back on my fifteen-year-old self — awkward, insecure, searching everywhere for beauty, meaning, and purpose — and I wish I could tell her a few things about her future in ballet. 

I wish I could give her some of the reassurance she needed. 

Here’s what I would say to my teenage self, if I could...

#1) It’s okay that you don’t have a “ballet body.” Most people don’t.

And the “ballet body” is a myth, anyway. 

There’s honestly no such thing. There are certain ideals that have been perpetuated by certain people throughout certain times in history, but the truth remains: the only ballet body is a body doing ballet. 

So don’t beat yourself up because you feel like your body is “all wrong.” 

Take a deep breath. 

You can look and feel beautiful while doing ballet no matter your shape or size, and you have every right to feel good about yourself and the progress you make in ballet. 

#2) You WILL get your pointe shoes one day. Stop worrying about it! It’s going to happen. 

Your pathway to beginning pointe won’t be traditional by any means but you will get there. 

You will find teachers who are willing to teach you pointe. 

As for dancing en pointe? 

You are going to love it. Occasionally, you are going to hate it. But mostly, you will love it. 

And pointe will quickly become a normal part of your ballet life.

You won't always be so mystified by and infatuated with pointe shoes. 

One day soon, you’ll sew shoes, break in shoes, and live that pointe-dancing life like it’s no big deal. 

And you'll have a pile of dead shoes with platforms that are ripped to threads — you’ll look at that pile and feel proud of all the dancing you did. 

So, chin up. Stay strong. Your time is coming.

#3) Not only will you finally get your pointe shoes, you will also learn variations. YES, your dream of learning variations will come true.

It's going to happen. 

You won’t be wistfully, longingly watching the same YouTube clips over and over again for the rest of your life — you are going to find teachers who will help you learn variations. 

(Okay, truth be told, you’ll still obsessively watch variations on YouTube, BUT you’re going to dance them, too.)

You’ll use your time learning variations to explore what comes most naturally to you in ballet: expressing yourself creatively through dance. 

And it’s going to be awesome! 

#4) You aren’t going to be a professional dancer, but that’s okay. You will have a rich, full, and wonderful ballet life without it becoming your profession.

Truthfully, very few people become professional ballet dancers. You already know this, but part of you is still wondering, if ballet can’t be my whole life, then what’s the point?  

You may not have the experience or the training necessary to become a professional, but ballet is still for YOU. 

It’s still your calling in many ways.

Your dancing can still make the world a more beautiful place. 

Because the beauty of ballet doesn’t come from being an Olympic level athlete. Instead, it comes things that you CAN achieve, including: 

  • Correct placement
  • Correct muscle engagement 
  • Creative expression
  • Musicality
  • Storytelling

These are things that, with hard work and focus, you can apply to your dancing. Not perfectly by any means! Nothing is ever perfect, of course. But, the truth remains...

You can dance ballet skillfully and beautifully without dancing at a professional level. 

So don’t give up!

To be totally honest, you’ll try to give up. You won't go to class for long periods of time — years at a time, even. 

But you’ll always find your way back to it.

And ballet will always be waiting for you. 

#5) It’s okay to make ballet a priority. Give yourself permission to love it and to be dedicated to it.

Ballet may not become your profession, but it will still be an important part of your life. 

I know that once you realized you wouldn't be a professional dancer, you spent a lot of time grappling with your love of ballet, trying to convince yourself that doing ballet as a hobby was silly and frivolous and that you needed to just move on with your life. 

“I need to pour my time and energy into something more practical.”
“I can just be a fan, a balletomane. I don’t have to be a dancer.”
“I can let this go.”

But thankfully, as I’ve already told you, you never quite let it go. 

And I can tell you this with utmost certainty: 

Your love of ballet won’t always be so complicated. 

One day it will feel simple. You’ll love ballet with ease. 

One day you’ll start to meet other people like you — people who aren’t professional dancers but who are dedicated to dancing ballet the very best they can, simply because they love it and it makes them happy. 

You are not as alone as you feel right now. 

One day, you will accept yourself, your ballet dancing, and you will find peace within your special and unique role in the ballet world. 

Because you are a part of the ballet world, whether you feel like it or not. 

You are a ballet dancer.