As an artist and a young adult, there are those trying times when we doubt ourselves. Usually this self doubt arrives from the rejection of something or someone else. Whether you are a dancer, actress, athlete, or student we all experience moments in life that truly test us. I say, acknowledge these feelings of doubt or rejection and then reflect. What makes someone strong is perseverance. I have three thoughts why we cannot give up.
1. For Yourself
We work too hard to give up. There is something truly special about working hard and putting in the time. In reference to myself, I have been dancing since I was four, but the last few years there has been a pivotal change. I began to discover the essence of why I dance and why I need to dance. My spirit needs to dance to fuel the hearts of humanity. When you find what your passionate about you have to stick with it through the trials and tribulations because that is what makes the journey admirable. Never sell yourself out of something you were meant to do because of the disapproval of someone else. Usually, disapproval weighs so much heavier in our hearts and minds than approval, and we forget the very moments that were extraordinary.
2. For the People Who Support You
I always hold true that a positive circle is a very relevant aid to success. Friends and family mean the world to me because there is nothing like having people who whole-heartedly believe in you. People who are there to lift you up when you hit the ground. Not only do you deserve to not give up for yourself, but for your support system. Sometimes this may not be your family or friends but a teacher, a mentor, or a distant stranger that gives you an uplifting smile everyday. Honor their support and your hard work with perseverance.
3. For Your Ancestors
This point is becoming more and more important to me. This year I am taking in Black Traditions in Dance with my first black professor and I am subsequently reading, My Journey with Maya, by Travis Smiley. As a young black woman, I owe it to my ancestors to not give up. We are so fortunate to live in a time that we have a choice to achieve greatness, yes the opportunities are not always at our fingertips because of financial inequalities, but they are far greater than just 50 years ago. In Black Traditions in Dance, one topic we are learning about is the ideology of the term “Black Dance.” Moreover, how historically Africanist principles have been completely ignored or depreciated in the framing of American modern dance. How our mark has been invisibilized and thus determined not important. Tavis Smiley in My Journey with Maya speaks so highly of Maya Angelou because she was a woman that illuminated elegance. Her melodic voice was always calming and she was stunningly humble; she managed to obtain a captivating presence in a time of immense racism towards African Americans. I simply cannot give up when my ancestors have died to get me here. I cannot dishonor their fight against immeasurable odds by having a thin skin. As a young black woman, I HAVE to preserve and be successful because I owe it to those who preceded me.
As the eloquent Maya Angelou said, “Rejection can simply mean redirection.”
Are you struggling with a trying time that makes you want to give up? Take a moment. Acknowledge your feelings. Breathe. And re-evaluate. Don’t give up. You deserve so much more.