It is challenging to juggle dance, academics and being 21 all at once. On top of that, now is about the time where I am meant to be formulating potential plans for my overly exciting and ambitious future. And I am pretty much known for being overly excited and ambitious about my future. So, what’s the problem?
Being in the competitive and high achieving environment of Berkeley sometimes sucks you into a wave of constantly calculating your next two, even three, life-changing steps. With this you tend to lose track of your present and the importance of loving and learning with every moment of your college life. Somewhere in the midst of all this talk of what you need to do to achieve brilliant career and academic success, my personal mindset of happiness and health over anything else, and somehow managing to find myself on the path to becoming an international dancer, I have been questioning where my best route lays.
I am at that stage, being in my third year of college, where I “should” be planning an internship at a top tier bank or a big consulting firm over the summer. Apparently, the penultimate year internship is the most crucial for either securing a job for the following year, figuring out what you don’t want in the case that the internship work doesn’t suit you, or for getting a strong brand name on your resume.
But instead, half of the places I would be interested in interning at won’t work out for me because I am restricted by dance. My summer dates are cut short by several weeks because I have a number of shows lined up in August, and I also need to keep in mind that I need access to a proper studio for practice, which subsequently cuts out several locations outside of Singapore.
Thus far I have been able to somewhat juggle dance and academics, even when it has felt like my attempt to balance the two was slowly sucking the life out of me. Whether it’s been practicing for my dance exam every morning at 7am even while on my grad trip in Koh Samui, doing Singapore production work while being a full-time student across the world in Berkeley, or literally feeling ripped apart from travelling between practice in the morning to university classes all day and then back to rehearsals and meetings in the evenings, I have pretty much somehow managed to always pull through. And that gives me confidence that I can continue to do so and perhaps (hopefully) with less of the feel that I’m being pulled apart by two opposing sides. However, the stakes seem so much higher now that it’s not just academics, but with the looming additional pressures of the prospects of a future career.
So, am I doing the right thing by following something I am passionate about, or am I risking the jumpstart of my career path for something that I’m pretty certain I don’t want my future to be centered on?
On one hand I feel like the universe is literally handing me these exceptional opportunities to bring a production that I feel so strongly and passionately about to the biggest cities around the world. How many people get to do that at 21? On the other hand, I need to make sure I do not lose sight of my academic and career goals because in some ways those two will always have hit or miss chances.
I tried to break this down with the following question: What is my top priority? That’s pretty simple for me: Happiness and health. At this point compromising one for the other seems like it won’t fit into achieving happiness. But then again, doing both can pretty much drive me insane at times, which definitely does not fit into achieving my best health. So, still no progress with that approach.
I posed a second question to myself: What have been my favorite phases in life? To some extent, this made me realize that I enjoy a layer of chaos. The chaos that comes with the wild passion of trying to pursue everything that you love. I was in love with life in my first two years of high school where I was running from basketball training to band practice to netball to dance rehearsals and everything in between. And then how can I override this last year? Hosting my production in multiple cities around the world was definitely not part of my plan, and to some extent it still seems very surreal to me. Moving to London for a semester abroad was definitely not part of the plan for me. And obviously some of my health challenges were most certainly not part of the plan for me. However, all of these things combined have proved to be the most unanticipatedly exciting decisions that I have followed through and I managed to do them all together.
Perhaps for once, I have not managed to figure out my balancing act or the answers to my questions by the end of writing about it. And perhaps it is okay to not have it figured out, or being even close to having figured it out, because I don’t need to be in the same mindset as everyone else. Perhaps it is okay to fall in love with the idea of having levels of suspense and excitement in an air of endless possibilities.
I have pretty much always strived to do something different and thrived on the idea that I want to be the first person living a life like mine. And I shall find peace with the confidence that I was not raised to follow a generic path, but rather to make the world my stage, in whatever way that may pan out for me. So I guess we’ll all wait and see how far I juggle this balancing act of mine!