In one primary class, the teacher asked the students what they want to be when they grow up.
“Fireman!” says Tom.
“Doctor!” says John.
“I wanna be like you, Teacher!” says shy little Mary.
“Me? I wanna be like Taylor Swift!” says Nancy, the most energetic girl of the class.
Every child dreams of becoming someone someday. Despite this, only a few actually choose to realize their so-called “childhood dreams.”
Meet Karissa, a 23-year old aspiring international contemporary ballet dancer. She is young, vibrant, and brimming with hope that you would not have realized the difficulties she experienced to remain standing at this point.
It started off as a simple dance class just to fill an hour of three-year old Karissa’s week and to give her an outlet for her energy. She, then, came home from class and danced all around the house, and she never stopped.
Six years later, she was still dancing and much more invested than ever before. She continued to improve day by day. Her hard work paid off. She was noticed. Her dance teacher saw her potential and asked if she wanted to train to become a professional ballet dancer. For young Karissa, this molded her childhood dream. At nine years old, she decided dancing would not just a hobby for her. She wanted it to be her life.
However, little did young Karissa know what she signed up for. Nonetheless, she persisted through it all.
She persisted even when she grew up in not the usual way. The once-a-week class became a grueling every day late night dance class. Her every rest time became dance time. Dancing after class. Dancing during the weekends. Dancing while other young kids were out playing tag. She just kept on dancing. It was tiresome. It was hard. Nonetheless, she kept on going.
She persisted even when she was struggling with her priorities. Juggling her duty as a student and her desire for a future in ballet had never been easy. Balancing her dance class and the time she needed to review for her lessons and do her homework was quite a hurdle. Still, she wore her smile everyday and did the best she could as her eyes were set, not on the present, but on the future.
She persisted even with the high cost that comes with ballet. Tuition, shoes, master classes, shoes, fund raisers, shoes. Did I mention shoes? They are relatively well-off, but her ballet needs still took up most of the budget for a family of six.
She persisted even if her dream was crushed. Eleven years into ballet, everything was going well until one of her teachers suddenly told her she should stop. Her teacher frankly told her that classical ballet, which she was doing since she was 3, did not suit her at all. Her teacher added that if she was only doing ballet as a hobby, it would not be a problem. However, if she was aiming to be a professional, she won’t get anywhere at all. She pointed out that Karissa’s shoulders were broad and she has a relatively large body unlike the petite ones suited for classical. She was crushed. She was hopeless for quite some time. Despite this, there was still desire in her heart. She did not want to let go of the 11 years of hard work and sweat. With the suggestion of her long-time mentor, she tried contemporary ballet and she was alive again. She started from square one all over again. Nonetheless, she was happy with the pursuit.
She persisted amidst parting from her family. She continued contemporary ballet. In 2013, after graduating from Ateneo de Cagayan, she flew to Manila and joined Steps Dance Studio as a scholar. Under the guidance of Sofia Zobel Elizalde and professional ballet masters, she kept on improving and honing her skills 1018 kilometers apart from her family.
She persisted even with broken bones. When she was given the chance to be part of the nationwide dance tour of Steps Studio, she immediately agreed. However, along the course of the tour, she injured her knees. The doctor advised her to rest for three months with no dancing at all. Despite the advice, she immediately started dancing again to join the rest of her group when she felt her knees could already move. She was just six weeks to her recovery. Therefore, it was no surprise that she felt pain again and was immediately rushed to the hospital. This time, she had no choice but to rest fully.
She persisted even with all the rejections she faced. Once fully recovered, she kept on dancing again. She dreams of becoming an international ballet dancer. Thus, she keeps on sending video application to various dance companies in London and New York. However, all has been to no avail up to this point. Still, she never stops applying.
She persisted, is still persisting, and will keep on persisting, and that is all that matters.
Unless you give up on your dream, the dream never gives up on you. It is rare to cross paths with people who pushed through with their childhood dream. However, it is much rarer to encounter people who still keep the dream alive by trying to achieve it despite all the difficulties, even if they have tried to give it up at some point. Just like how Karissa persisted, is still persisting, and will keep on persisting, I hope we find it in us to have the courage to realize our dreams.