When Life Gives You a Break, Take It
As Humbling As It May Be
At my high school, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker was the dance club’s annual tradition. Soon after the school year began, roles were assigned and months of dedicated practice would follow. There were no tryouts, and as I recall, the two teachers who ran the production determined lead roles over a bottle of wine. Furthermore, seniority ruled: As a freshman, I marched in formation with all the other toy soldiers in musty old band uniforms inherited from the local boys’ prep school; in sophomore year most of my classmates were gingerbread men and flutes, so I was lucky to be dancing the Waltz of the Flowers; and in junior year, I ascended to the role of Snow Queen.
By the time our senior year rolled around, we were more than primed to be awarded the coveted lead roles. As a class, we were a good-spirited bunch overall and had patiently endured years of harsh treatment by our “big sisters” who took pleasure in being mean to the underclassmen. Now it was our time. We had waited our turn. Seniority ruled and we were finally seniors. The lead roles were ours! But wait — stop the music. The powers that be decided that they would now assign parts based on talent and not seniority. What an outrage!
I was in bed with a cold the day the assignments were announced. My best friend, Luisa, dialed my number the minute she got home. “You won’t believe what happened.” She then reported that when a junior was given the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, my classmates clamored for justice. They wanted a senior in that role and had put forth my name. Though I might have appreciated the groundswell of endorsement by my peers, I had the uneasy feeling it had more to do with their need for fairness and less to do with my talents as a dancer. Translated, this was their message: We don’t want to go by talent. We want Virginia! Talk about humbling. It’s not exactly the grassroots chant you dream of hearing.
Gina, the junior who based on talent would have been the Sugar Plum Fairy, was a much better dancer. She took private lessons and did piqué turns to perfection. I was better suited for the Arabian dancer role initially reserved for me before my classmates revolted. Yet despite all this, I accepted the lead role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Sometimes, as humbling as it may be, it’s your turn for a big break.
That Would Be Nice
What kind of breaks do we experience in our adult lives? If you’re thinking: Yeah right, if only I could catch a break, remember that sometimes breaks come in strange packages:
Why is it that often we are more comfortable struggling than accepting the break life is giving us? Perhaps it’s because getting a break can also mean life is daring us to do things differently, reevaluate our priorities, or venture down that unknown path.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Break
Breaks might initially appear as dilemmas. Taking the break may be seen as a step up, down, or sideways. It might feel humbling or require you to stretch in a way you don’t feel completely ready for.
Whether your next break is simply a chance to catch your breath and collect yourself, a reminder to tend to something else in your life, or an opportunity for growth, what’s important is how you use it.
When life gives you a break, take it.
Here's to you,