The Many Faces Of Perseverance Blog Series. I thought it would be nice to take the filter out of our daily lives and to be able to relate to many different people about struggles that we each face. I am learning everyday to embrace the struggles we go through, instead of fearing them. I am learning that everything we go through is putting us on our path and helping us grow. I am learning that even when its uncomfortable and hard that we are learning so much about ourselves and that our struggles are shaping us into a better version of ourselves. I hope you gain guidance, inspiration, and support from this series – Alexa
Nikki, what made you want to share your story with others?
I wanted to share my story because I think so many people can relate to it. A lot of mental issues we deal with stem from our childhood and it is so important to acknowledge that and begin to move on. I also get a sense of comfort when sharing my story. I hope to help at least one person and help them feel like they aren’t alone in this journey.
It all started in the 4th grade. I remember auditioning for my local ballet company’s show of The Nutcracker. At the time, I had a friend in my class who also was auditioning–and had been in the show before. While not fat, I certaining didn’t and never did have the “perfect ballerina body.”
I remember getting a letter a couple weeks after the auditions saying that I didn’t get a part. I was upset, of course, but moreso just embarrased. While these parts were subjective and mostly based on height (I was tall for my age), I began telling myself it was because I was too fat. Thinking back about it now, I don’t remember if someone told me I was or if I was just making things up. But that is besides the point, this idea in my head that I was fat stuck with me. In fact, it stuck with me for 18 years of my life.
I went to a performing arts high school for dance and was on track to becoming a professional dancer one day. I had the talent. I had the stage presence. But I never felt like I fit in as a dancer. I didn’t have long, skinny legs or perfectly arched feet. I am an average height, have very flat feet, and I have an as*.
Fast forward a few years–I decided not to pursue dance in college because I started not to lose my passion for it and it was becoming too mentally exhausting for me. During my freshman year of college, I began having very disordered thoughts and eating habits all because of the fear of gaining the “freshman 15.” Since when did my worth depend on my appearance?
I mean, after spending 15+ years staring at myself in front of the mirror, comparing myself to the people around me and the people I idolized no wonder I had such a skewed view of what my appearance really meant.
I never thought about the strength of my legs but only how much space they took up when sitting now. I never thought about the power within my core that dictates all of my movements but only the rolls that come out when I slouch. I never thought about the beauty of the biggest muscle in my body–my brain. My brain that remembered thousands of combinations and choreography over the years. My brain that helped my graduate from the best high school in Kentucky while dancing in a pre-professional dance program.
I am still working on my relationship with food, fitness, and my body. I am still working on looking past my appearance but focusing on who I really am and who I strive to be. It is so interesting to see how our childhood can dictate how we view ourselves and the world.
One of my favorite quotes is, “your appearance should be the least interesting thing about yourself.” In our social media obsessed culture today, this is a tough thing to remember. But we must remind ourselves that our worth is based on so much more than how we look like. The people that love you most in life love you for who you are, not what you look like.