Lessons from a Tomboy Ballerina HN Blog
Hard as Nails Ministries
Lessons from a Tomboy Ballerina

Lessons from a Tomboy Ballerina

By:  Mission Team June 27, 2021

Growing up I was put into ballet classes, starting when I was about 7 or 8. I definitely felt out of place among all the other girls there. I was a tomboy and I would have rather been playing in the woods. Yet I really really enjoyed dancing. I guess I just struggled to let myself like it since I was doing my best to not be ‘too girly’.

I was not the best dancer, but I wasn’t bad if I do say so myself. I loved to move and ballet classes were my outlet for all my desire to move beautifully. I didn’t have great endurance, which I recently discovered was asthma, and I was a little clunky. I remember watching some of my classmates dance and I was so inspired by how easily their bodies could move and do the steps perfectly.

When I was 12 my grandpa died. He was the only grandparent I knew, and for all my life that I knew him, he suffered from Alzheimer’s and really had no idea who I was. For the last 3ish years of his life, he lived in a nursing home. When my mom and I would go to visit him, it was typically after dance class, and my hair would be pulled back in a bun. I always wore baggy clothes like my brother, and he thought I was a boy.

But those visits to the nursing home fostered an even deeper love for dancing. We would watch old movies with my grandfather that he enjoyed. It was a lot of black and white Fred Astaire, Shirley Temple, and Gene Kelly. I quickly became a huge fan of the movies myself as I watched those old-time stars spin across the screen. I was so inspired that I wanted to dance all the more.

However, as I am sure every person who has ever been a teenager can agree, I held myself back from entering in fully to what I was passionate about because I was afraid of how I looked.

I know this struggle is probably the most common struggle for young people especially teenagers. I know so many issues can stem from a fear of others and what others think of us. For me this fear wasn’t so much that they would dislike me or criticize me, I had a fear that if I were to be seen as a little girl who liked dancing that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

I saw a lot growing up that those pretty and pink things were cheaper and made only for looks, especially when it came to toys. I decided that I didn’t want to be seen as flimsy and obnoxious. So I decided to make myself someone who would be taken seriously and not overlooked. Obviously, I was not a great philosopher as a kid, but I did understand at a young age that I could calculate the person I would be and I could make myself who I wanted to be seen as.

Looking back I see how much that affected me. For as long as I could remember, I told myself that any desire or attraction I had to anything, whether it be dancing, colors, or clothes that that choice would define me. I found that my whole childhood I worked so hard to not be a pretty pink ballerina. To me, that was worse than being a disobedient or bad kid. I would rather wear my brother’s clothes and not be ignored, than wear pink so people would write me off as a “silly little girl”.

Ok, so why is this relevant? Well I was recently thinking about the change I have had being a missionary. I have been reflecting on what I am most grateful for being here. And the people that stick out to me the most are those who taught me very real and raw ways to be myself.

Now, this could get real cheesy real fast, but I will do my best to keep this authentic. I truly believe that I didn’t dance my heart out as much in my whole life, even in 9 years of dance classes and recitals, as I have here. It isn’t because I know how to dance, I am very much not a good impromptu dancer, I have learned that I don’t have to care.

It is true, that there is freedom in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter what other people think. It only matters what God thinks, which I know is true. But sometimes I still care a lot about how I look in front of others, whether in the way I talk, the stories I tell, or my desire to dance for no reason to get my wiggles out.

I don’t know how to say it in any clearer way, I have been terrified all my life of what other people think of me, and that fear hasn’t gone away completely. But I can for the first time say that I don’t care what other people think of me because now I know that everyone has major insecurities and fears; but no matter what people say about me or to me, my God speaks more truth.

That is the lesson my teammates have taught me, to speak the truth and to encourage until it is a habit because that is how God the Father speaks to us. I have learned to recognize the Father’s encouragement because my team has spoken out loud to me so many times.

I am certain that if I never became a missionary, never met my teammates, that I would be fine and my life would be ok, but I would still be so terrified to be myself in front of anyone! I would still be as suffocated in who I was trying to make myself as I was growing up.


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About the Author Mission TeamThe mission team is made up of writers within the HN team who serve for a time with our ministry to Awaken the World to the Power of God's Love. Through their efforts, their vision of making a world where no one suffers alone is an encouragement to many hurting people of all ages. 


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