Face Your Fears

“And...Aster, you're up!" I shakily drew in a breath and bent down to check if my en pointe shoes were tied. Why did the air suddenly seem so cold? Why were chills running up my spine? And why, out of all things, was I scared? It's gonna be alright, I assured myself. My brain believed it, but my heart didn't. It beat fast, as if it was saying, "Oh, I'm not sure..." My friend Wonder's voice interrupted my thoughts. "Pssst. Aster, go on," She nudged me with her elbow. "You can do this!" Wonder's sunny, smiling face encouraged me, but didn't do much to move my fears. "I can't do it." "What?" Wonder's face fell. "I just can't. I'm too scared." "But you can do it!" Wonder protested. "Then how do I do it?" "Just face your fears." * * * The first time my mother told me to try ballet, I was really skeptical. Ballet? Really? With music that goes, dodo-do-do? Nope, not for me. Then, she MADE me try it, which I complained about for a long time. She pushed me into our custom-made Porsche car and said, "You can't think that ballet is terrible before you've even tried it." Sigh. Grown-ups. "I still think ballet is a waste of time and torrible." I declared with a matter-of-fact look on my face, staring at her through the rear view mirror with my brown eyes. "Oh, Aster," murmured Mum. "Using words you've made up." I did make up words if there wasn't a good enough word in Merriam Webster's dictionary. Terrible and horrible both sounded the same and meant the same thing, so I decided to merge them to create, "Torrible". It's a word that's twice as strong than your ordinary negative adjective. Once we got to the ballet studio, I crossed my arms to make myself seem like I meant business and didn't want to be there. "Welcome!" cried a bright-eyed woman. "I'm Madame Natalia!" She had her hazel hair in a tight bun and was wearing a black leotard paired with white tights and ballet shoes. "Please come inside!" I reluctantly entered the studio. It had glossy walls, wooden bars, and a huge mirror at the very front. I had thought that ballet was going to be boring. Boy, was I wrong. Ballet now seemed like it was part of everything in my life now. It was in my schedule, and I tried to do anything to please Madame Natalia. I was having so much fun doing pliés and tendus and pirouettes that I even forgot how I first felt like when I went to the studio! It was as if I couldn't feel that way about ballet anymore. Soon, three years had passed and I was a high-level fifteen year old. Madame Natalia had long gone; I now had a teacher named Madame Trance. Her name suited her. She looked as if she had been taking too many sleeping pills. Her blonde hair always seemed to float and her gray eyes were always dreamy as if she were far, far away from the studio. One day Madame Trance said, “Aster, there's going to be a competition at the Lincoln Center Ballet Stage. Do you want to go for it?” My eyes grew wide. A competition? For real?“YES!” I shouted, jumping up and down. Madame looked at me disapprovingly and shook her head. “What's wrong Madame?” I asked, cocking my head, settling down again. “Oh, dear. The people downstairs will complain again.” I grinned sheepishly, embarrassed. * * * So here I was, at Lincoln Center making a fool out of myself. My brain had already confirmed that I couldn't bring myself to dance on the ballet stage. I had looked down at my feet and moped. Then, Wonder had given me one of the best pieces of advice that I had ever heard in my life: "Face your fears". I looked up. Wonder nodded. I thought about spiders. Poison. War. Stage fright, and another gazillion things that I never knew that I was afraid of. "If you're ever gonna do something in life," soothed Wonder, bring me back into the present, "If you're ever gonna try something new, you have to go face-to-face with whatever you're afraid of." She stared at me so intently that I snickered."Wow!" I laughed. "You sound just like a teacher!" "Thank you."Wonder giggled. "Number 26, are you coming? I repeat, number 26, are you coming?" I inhaled deeply and stepped forward. I put on my best calm face. It didn't matter which place I came in. All that mattered was that I had faced my fears.


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