I Can't Do It- Summer Tales Part One

Can a six week trip to New York change your life?

Yes, yes it can.

Five weeks training for ballet at American Academy of Ballet changed the way I thought about ballet, what I thought about myself, and what I thought about this journey called life.

And here's how it all happened:

As I posted about here, my flight and first week at AAB flew me up to new and exciting places! But I couldn't tell you then that the first week would be the easiest, and everything would get much harder. I danced long hours every day, totaling up to around six hours a day six days a week (around 180 hours total). Even our "off days" included at least two miles of walking. I didn't feel these hours pile up the first three weeks, though, and I felt ready for the last two weeks.

But not much could prepare me for the fourth and fifth weeks at AAB.

You see, AAB's Summer School divides up the five weeks into three sessions that dancers can take separately if they want. Of, course dancers could take more than one session if they wanted, and I took all of them, but for each new session, they re-leveled the dancers. In the first session, I danced in the highest of eight levels (they determined that solely on age), but in the next session I moved down a level because the new dancers that came in could dance. Most of these talented people came from other countries, so I didn't complain at all about moving down a level to where people spoke English and I could really shine. In fact, I grew much during the second session and felt quite comfortable.

Uh oh. Comfortable. 

Then came the last re-leveling. And (you guessed right) this time they placed me in the highest level with the talented foreign dancers that outshone me by a bit. Or maybe more than a bit.

Right about here you can freak out with me, and that's okay. In fact, that's what I did as I entered my first class with this new group of people. It didn't help that this class taught us one of the hardest dances that I've ever failed to do. It also didn't help that all of the boys (well, I say boys, but they were men) watched as I failed to do it.

I felt so small, so inferior. I heard someone say that one of the foreign girls didn't expect some of the new girls to last longer than two days in the highest level before they asked to be moved down, and I knew that she included me in this statement.

"Maybe I should move down." I said to myself that day.

But maybe I should prove her wrong, prove myself wrong. Maybe I could do more than I thought that I could. Oh Jesus, help me!

Spoiler alert: I didn't give in. I didn't take the easy route. I stayed with these crazy-good foreign dancers and continued to learn and work and train. I learned that my technique serves me better than I thought. I learned that a girl from a tiny Southern ballet school can dance with the dancers who win some of the biggest ballet competitions. I learned that it's okay to be at the bottom of a class. And I learned to not give up.

Because I wanted to give up many times and no time more than the last Wednesday of the program. Let me tell you about that day in hope that you won't give up on whatever impossible task you face right now.

The day didn't start off on a good note because I dreamed that my kitty woke me up kneading me but opened my eyes to a dorm bed with no kitty. It felt empty and sent tears down my face. The picture of my family on the desk cascaded waves of homesickness upon me which I could hardly even feel due to tiredness. So... tired... need... rest.... Let's just say that I drank watered down black coffee this day and hardly flinched. 

Because we had so many pieces to prepare for the upcoming show, the highest level skipped siesta the last week and rehearsed until dinner (and for me until 8:30 because I participated in something extra). I injured my hip earlier due to overuse and couldn't even walk or put on clothes without pain, which made dancing difficult. Plus, my allergies flared up, and left my nose stuffy and my throat sore. Things didn't go my way this week. Not at all. On top of all of these things, I didn't have much time to spend in God's Word, which might explain the huge pity-party coming soon in the story.

I remember laying down on a coach in the dance building ten minutes before the next rehearsal. I couldn't stop crying. I prayed. I tried to trust God, but I couldn't see past the tears from slipping out from my eyes, threatening to mess up my mascara. I missed home. I missed family, kitties, and normal things. But I missed rest most of all. I didn't feel like it would end or like I could do this! The mountain of rehearsals not to mention "homework" assignments overwhelmed me as I curled up on the hard coach, but I didn't know then what I know now. Or maybe I did know this but I wanted to throw myself a pity-party anyway... (Pay attention now because the turning point comes right about now.)

I can't do it.

But Christ in me, that's a different story.

Because that day ended (cats gifs can cure wonders when you need a pick-me-up before going into another long rehearsal). And I learned the pieces. And I didn't let comparison or envy crush me. And I got even more practice at turning my pity-parties into praise parties. I can't say that I depended upon Christ's strength the whole time. In fact, I really struggled with leaning upon Him during this time because the whole world around me screamed: you should be able to do this by yourself! And I often believed this lie and tried so hard to make it on my own that I missed much joy. But I knew that I needed to root my identity in Christ, and so together WE did it.

You see, I performed five dances during the last performance. True I limped out of the theater, but WE did it. And in the process of dancing at AAB I got to talk to so many people about how the grace of God changes everything about life! God showed me that He gave me certain abilities and that, though my talents may not look as impressive as others' gifts, He can lead me to do bigger things that I thought possible.

God helped me to discover that He can do it, and He had prepared me to do it through Him. This doesn't mean that I will do everything perfectly, for I made some huge mistakes this summer. But it does mean that I should try hard. It means that I actively resist the temptation to let my own or others' expectations of me define me, because a level doesn't detail my identity me nor does what other people think of me determine my value. God writes my story, and this story won't be easy or even fun all of the time, but it will be good. Why will it be good? Because God is good.

I want to encourage you today to not only appreciate ballet dancers so much more now that you have an insider's look to how a professional dancer's schedule would look like, but I want to encourage you to trust God. To go for it (whatever "it" is for you) and not give up even when the world around you expects you to throw in the towel. I encourage you to define yourself by God alone, even when you want to curl up on the couch and cry.

Because you can't do it. But Christ in you, that's a different story. That's His story. And soon it will be history.

Princess Hannah

(p.s. I'm so glad to be back! Thank you so much for the support and interaction on the blog during my absence! Please go back and check your comments, because, like always, I answered every one of them! I can't wait to catch up with all of you. And look forward to part two of my Summer Tales, NYC!!)
Hannah P


  1. I tend to let comparison and envy crush me. (It happened several times when I took dance last year.) So needless to say, this post was a kind of eye-opener for me. As usual, this post was incredibly encouraging, and I have much respect for you: as both a sister-in-Christ and a talented dancer. :)

    1. I struggle with comparison all of the time, so I needed to open my own eyes a bit recently, but I am so thankful that I encouraged you! Thank you so much for your comment! You really don't know what it means to me to hear your kind words!

      Go Jesus!

  2. This upcoming school year I'm placed in an advanced English class meant for juniors and seniors and being one of the youngest people in my sophomore class I'm extremely nervous to deal with it. But your post encouraged me; we're not along, because we're with Him, and with Him we will be able to face and endure the troubles and turmoils life throws at us.

    xoxo Morning

    1. TRUE! The way you applied the truths I communicated to your life is so wonderful! And you are right, Christ in you will make the impossible possible, even if the impossible means simply enjoying the class though you struggle with it (which I do not think that you will).

  3. Wow. First off, I absolutely love your pictures!! You're such a beautiful ballerina. I'm hoping to go back to ballet myself sometime soon:) (If I can work up enough nerve!)

    It sounds like you had an absolutely incredible experience! The fact that you made it through all of that- it's absolutely amazing. It truly does show just how awesome God is!!!!!

    Your posts are always so inspiring, I adore them! Can't wait for part two ;)

    Grace Anne // http://totallygraced.blogspot.com/

    1. Thank you so much! And yes, please go back to ballet!

      I did have a great time! All glory to God! And the fun part is to come! (NYC!!)

  4. hey Hannah :) I'm a relatively new reader, but WOW this encouraged me.
    Theatre is my dream and so often it feels like a far flung dream. But if it's what I'm meant to do, God will carry me through.
    Thanks for your wonderful, honest example.

    1. I am so glad to meet you Riley! (Do you have a blog by the way? I couldn't find one.)

      And yes! If God wants you to do something, you will do it! Go for the dreams, though! I've never been one to shy away from doing something because it won't make money or I might not make it; that's what can give God all the more glory!

      Thank you for your encouraging comment and I can't wait to get to know you more!

    2. It's nice to meet you too :) I actually don't have a blog.

      Exactly! I'd like to have a back up plan, but I don't want to use it ;P

    3. I just asked because I would want to read it if you had one!

      Backup plans are necessary too sometimes. I have a couple.

    4. But God doesn't have any backup plans!

  5. These are such wonderful pictures. I love how your blog always gives glory to God <3 You are such an encouragement!

    1. Aw, thank you so much! You just encouraged me right there! :)

  6. This is a really encouraging post! Great job:)

    1. Thank you so much Nina! I can't wait to get to know you and your cute blog even more!

  7. SO happy for you Hannah!! Glad you could do it and kick butt, doesn't matter whose..!!

    1. Thank you so much! And really, I kicked my own buttocks, lol!