Choose the Right Challenges
Challenges, problems, and drama are a given, but you can choose which ones to be a part of.
Recently, I received an invitation to teach a workshop at the Salsa Festival. Normally, I would have declined such offers as I prefer teaching beginners over intermediate dancers. I find it fulfilling to inspire and help the two-left-feet dancers believe in themselves, feel a sense of belonging, and eventually, find their place on the dance floor.
However, I said yes to the invitation because I wanted to bring the huddles and story-sharing we do in every class to the Festival. I was excited, and deep down, I had another goal. I wanted to move those who would listen to my story to tears. Yes, I said it. I wanted to make them cry.
As we ran the workshop, I noticed many of my students showed up to support and cheer me on. It touched me deeply because for most of my life, I had been trying to fit in. Here were my students, cheering me on.
Towards the end of the workshop, as we were huddled together, I started to share my struggles as a dancer and how important it is to be kind to one another. By the end of my story, I had moved two people to tears because they saw themselves in me. It was gratifying to see that I had influenced a few more souls in a positive direction.
As we started filling out, a dancer who had not attended my workshop approached me and said,
“Hey, you dance so well. What school are you part of?”
I smiled and replied, “I run Toronto Dance Salsa.”
It was like he had just eaten a lemon because his face contorted, he looked repulsed and rolled his eyes at me as he walked away. I was in shock. I had never even met him.
It hurt my ego, confidence, and made me question myself for a bit. But then, something more important happened. I smiled and said, “Well, you can’t have the good without the awkward.” The old me would have fallen apart, but the new me realizes that all the snubs, disagreements, and challenges are worth it.
I love what I do, how I do it, and the people I do it with. Here’s how I see it:
I was a terrible dancer when I first started. I was also terrible when I took over the dance school. Everyone rejected my idea that the dance school should be more than just about dance. I had to fight every step of the way to prove that what we do here is right and important. I spent the last three years trying to survive the pandemic. I work seven days a week, many hours, putting out fires, taking care of others, and constantly being challenged in some way.
And yet, I wouldn’t trade my life because I love it. Life isn’t about choosing a path without challenges, but about choosing the right challenges worth fighting for.
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