Inspiration Where You Least See It Coming by Tamar

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was shaking at the core. I stood before the pastel pink door, telling myself I didn’t want to do it. But subconsciously, I turned the knob, and then there was no way back.

Last summer, I spoke to the director of the studio I dance at, and told her that the class I was in was not challenging enough for me. The class had recently accepted many new students who had never danced before, and the teachers were forced to lower the level of instruction to accommodate the newcomers. Some of my friends liked having it easy, but I was looking for something that would push me more.
The director broke the news to me that the only other class suitable for my age would be the competition-level class. Those girls are crazy flexible and super talented at everything they do. I thought I could never join them!
“I’ll tell you what,” the director said. “I think you can do it. So let’s make a deal – You try the class for a week, and I’ll tell Ms. Hannah to keep an eye on you. If she agrees with me that you’re capable, you’ll be allowed to stay. Is that a deal?”
How can you say no after the director tells you she believes in you? So of course, I agreed. But aside from my fears of not being good enough and not fitting in, there was one fear that rose above all: Ms. Hannah. She had a reputation for being cold, strict, and ruthless, and I was dreading having to be in her class.

As I walked in, about fifteen pairs of eyes turned my way. Ms. Hannah immediately assigned me a spot at the barre, and our exercises began. I tried my hardest to keep up, but I kept stepping on the wrong foot, turning the wrong way… I was a wreck! And to make it even worse, I saw that Ms. Hannah kept glancing my way, her eyes a piercing green. I was sure she could see right through me. I was sure she sensed my insecurity, and that she’d go to the director right after the lesson to tell her I was a failure.
I left class that day on a real downer. I thought I couldn’t do it. I’d never be good enough. I even considered telling the director that she had overestimated my capabilities. But I’m not sure exactly what it was; something made me go back to the next class, despite my plummeting self esteem.
Week after week I returned, and I actually found myself improving. I still thought I’d never be like the other students, I’d never earn Ms. Hannah’s approval, but at least I didn’t mess up as often anymore.
It was one class, during a particularly strenuous stretch, that changed everything.
“Everyone down for a three minute plank!” Ms. Hannah shouted. Planking was my worst enemy. I struggled to stay up for one minute, so you could imagine how I looked attempting three. I found a spot against the wall and got into position.
All of a sudden, Ms. Hannah crouched beside me. She had barely spoken to me until now, so I was surprised to find her coming to talk to me.
“Just remember,” she whispered. “The mental strength is always the first to run out.”

Now, half way into the school year, Ms. Hannah and I get along quite well. She’s not a very bubbly person, but we talk more often, and sometimes we’ll have a good laugh. But I’ll never forget that day, doing the plank, when she made that remark that inspired me so much.
It applies in dance, in writing, and in every aspect of life. The mental strength is always the first to run out. You have the potential to take one more step, hold your plank for one more minute, write one more page… but your mind tells you that you can’t. It tricks you into believing that you’re exhausted, you can’t do more, it’s just not possible.
Since that day, I’ve made it my mission to increase my mental strength. I’ve decided that for every time I say I can’t, I have to say ten times that I can.
And you have no idea of the difference it’s made.

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Posted on February 28, 2015, in Editorial Board Essay. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks Tamar!! Great story, so inspiring! 🙂

  2. *applause* the mind is a powerful thing.

  3. WOW, this is amazing! I was really touched by this.

  4. Wow! Very inspirational, Tamar. 🙂 And that quote, “The mental strength is always the first to run out”, really does pack a punch!

    -Hannah O.

  5. Wow. That was very inspiring! I do the same thing in softball… when my coach tells us to run the field, I always make it a little more than half-way before I’m telling myself to stop or my lungs will burst. But, when I was in cross-country in the 6th grade, my coach told me that every time I think I’m about to quite, to go 20 more steps… well, this has helped me ever since then because now, when I think I’m going to quite, I go 20 more steps, and after that 20 more steps, I take 20 more, until eventually, I’ve made it across the finish line, or to home plate. Same thing goes for writing… every time I get bored with a story (which is exactly what’s happening with Pinkie Promises) I try to go another page, and then another page, until finally, it’s not boring anymore. But, there’s a difference between pushing yourself to get better, and pushing yourself to prove yourself or others wrong… I try to get better and not throw it in others faces…

  6. Thanks for the essay Tamar! This experience that you had has really impacted me to pressure myself in my areas of expertise. With all the struggles, you need to set goals and try to reach them, no matter what. 🙂

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