Monday, August 1, 2011

NGB guest blog: changed for the better

by Amber Shriver, NGB dancer and Patel Conservatory marketing intern.
Friday, July 29, 2011

Life is a series of choices
Sitting at the hotel computer (since a coffee accident ruined my laptop), I find it shocking that the five weeks of the Next Generation Ballet summer intensive are over and this is my final entry. In a way, the ending seems almost anti-climatic, surreal, really, as if it’s not really over and tomorrow I will wake up, get coffee and go to dance class rather than get on a plane to go home. 
As I ponder the last five weeks, I find myself asking the question, Was it worth it?

The hours were long, the work was demanding and endless; and I find myself searching for that defining moment, that epiphany, that second outside of time where I just knew this is where I was supposed to be. As I sit here searching, I realize that I have no single moments that will define the rest of my life.
Maybe that’s what life is, not a series of defining moments but a process, a series of choices that may seem insignificant individually, but, looked at in aggregate, shape our lives. As I told my residents, when we talked about being nice and trying to be good people: one choice does not make you a good or an awful person. It is the series of choices made throughout your life that determine whether you are a good person.
What choices have I made here that I am proud of?
I feel like I have really learned how to choose to live a balanced life here. I made consistent choices that enabled me to live a healthy lifestyle, investing in myself so that I have the energy to invest in others. And I think I chose to fix my ballet technical weakness, a choice that I hope to continue in the future.

This experience has changed me in the little ways, it has...
...made me more responsible, as I have had to be accountable for the lives of the 10 children under my supervision.
...helped me to learn to balance things like faith and dance and work and family and academics (studying for the GMAT, fun, fun, fun) and having a social life.
..reminded me of the importance of taking care of myself, so that I have energy to invest in all of those things.
...helped me iron out my priorities as I prepared to return home for a very busy school year.
...taught me that I shouldn’t be friends with people indiscriminately. I have to pick and choose who I spend time with because time is valuable, and there are some people who you just don’t need in your life.
...given me perspective as I’ve helped my residents deal with all of the problems that seem so monumental in high school, such as not having money to buy a t-shirt or being in love with a really cute guy who doesn’t notice you (actually that still seems like a monumental problem), or a first relationship or problems with an already established relationship, or just having a bad day. It made me to wonder which of my problems that seem so monumental now will seem trivial in 5 years.
...made me more compassionate as I was reminded that there are more forms of poverty than just monetary poverty, and as I was forced to react with compassion when it would have been easier to judge others for things that they are lacking.
But none of these changes represent a finished product, nor are they guaranteed to stay with with me after I get home. I hope to continue making the choices that will make these changes a permanent reality.

Beginning a new journey
So, as I sit here, writing my last blog, I don’t feel like the journey is ending. In some ways, I feel like it's the beginning. I hope I can use what I’ve learned here as a stepping stone to create an amazing future.

Regardless of what that future holds, I am grateful to the teachers and to my co-workers here for providing me with amazing role models and giving me the courage, inspiration, strength and knowledge to face the unknown future with commitment, discipline and grace.
Reflecting on my experience and on myself as a person, I can’t help thinking of not only the great writers and dancers who have come before me, but also of the people who have worked their entire lives hoping for the chance to have their words read by hundreds of people or for the chance to perform in front of an audience. I realize I am incredibly lucky to have had both of those honors during my time here at the Patel Conservatory. There’s something humbling about that knowledge, and something awesome about that amount of responsibility. It makes me wonder not if the experience was worth it, but if I was worthy of the experience.
Thank you to the residents and dancers
I am immensely grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I would like to thank my residents and also my readers for letting me share in your lives. I hope that my words have not only entertained you, but also given you strength to face your future. I hope that God will fill your heart with dreams, and that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things. I am here for you, whatever life brings, so let my love give you roots, and help you find your wings. I wish you all the best, and I hope that whatever you work for, hope for and pray for happens.
Changed for the better
I can never know what would have happened if I hadn’t come here, or who I would be.  But I do know this, this experience has changed me in such a way that I do feel worthy of the experience, and for that I will be forever grateful. Again, I thank the teachers, the students, the wonderful co-workers and my blog readers for this chance.
I end with words of someone much more clever than me: Glinda, from Wicked, “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

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