The Life of a Teenage Ballerina: Part Two

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BY Joy Ong

Great success is often accompanied by pressure and expectations. What has your exposure been like to mental health issues such as body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety?

There’s definitely pressure to be perfect, for sure. Many of my friends have issues with their mental health, but not severe ones, it’s not as intense as some people think it is. We don’t come across anorexia and bulimia very often, it really isn’t that common. But there definitely is a lot of pressure, but that’s mostly just the pressure you put on yourself. No one else is putting that on you, it’s always just yourself.

Are mental health issues made aware in ballet schools today?

It really does depend on the school. Sometimes it’s a really secretive thing and always swept under the rug. But it definitely should become more well known and easily talked about. I think all the directors and people of authority need to be very approachable in those kind of situations, so people feel as if they can talk about their issues if they have any.

How do you deal with the pressure?

Sometimes you have to take some time out and realise you’re doing what you can and you’re doing your best. That’s all you can do, really.

In order to achieve our dreams we often have to sacrifice many things. What has been your biggest sacrifice?

Probably the social aspect. I used to have more of a problem with it but I’ve kinda learnt to accept it now because it’s the same with everything. If you really want to get somewhere you have to sacrifice things like that. I’ve learnt to accept that I need to distance myself a bit, in order to get where I want to go.

I’m sure you have those days when you wake up, your whole body is sore and you’re exhausted. How do you find the motivation to keep going?

It’s definitely really hard when you have those days, when all you want to do is just stay in bed. But you just have to get over yourself in a way, because everyone else is going through the same thing. It’s not just you, ever. There’s always other people who are experiencing the same thing. And you just have to get on with things and do it. You’ll always feel better if you put one hundred percent in rather than if you had just given up.

What have been the most important lessons you have learnt throughout this experience?

I think the main thing would be discipline; learning to put things aside for a small amount of time, to get things done and to achieve my dreams. Because it’ll all be worth it in the end.

If you could give one piece of advice to other teenagers chasing their dreams, what would you say?

I’d say just stick with it and just do whatever you need to do get there. Follow what you want to do. You always know in your heart what you should do and what you really want. I think the main thing is just to remember your end goal and keep in mind where you want to end up, because when you get there it will be worth it.

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