I’ve never mentioned this in my blog before, but I used to be a dancer. My former dance studio was owned by a woman, whom I will be referring to as “J.L.”
J.L. passed away today.
I only danced at the studio for four years, throughout my high school career. But those four years were a time when I needed that studio, and J.L., the most.
I hated high school. My freshman year of high school goes down as the worst year of my life, hands down. I thought that, going into my freshman year, I was never going to be happy again.
Then I started dancing.
I don’t know what possessed me to find J.L. on Facebook and send her a message, explaining that I was a 14-year-old girl whose friend had been dancing with J.L.’s studio for years. I told her I wanted to be a dancer, and I wanted to know if she would accept me at her studio.
J.L. didn’t even know who I was, and she accepted me with wide open arms into her studio, into her family. When I met her as I nervously walked into her studio for the first time, I felt like I was returning home, to a family who I hadn’t seen in years. J.L. and everyone at that studio had no idea who I was, but they didn’t care. Once you stepped into that studio, your past didn’t matter. You were there to dance.
I danced with J.L. for four straight years. J.L. turned a girl with crippling anxiety into a performer. Without J.L. helping me build up my confidence, I never would have joined the theater program at my high school. I never would have met some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known, and have had the pleasure to work with.
J.L. gave me a home and a family when I needed one the most. She never doubted me, even when I doubted myself. She never, ever gave up on one of her dancers, and she always pushed us to be better versions of ourselves. J.L. believed in us, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. She cared about us. And for that awkward little 14-year-old who stumbled into her studio in January of 2012, proclaiming that she wanted to be a dancer, I needed that.
Now and forever, we dance for her.
I love you, J.L. Keep on dancing.