For most of my life, I was the person in the back of the room, listening and quietly watching. I preferred when eyes weren’t on me, and the attention was directed elsewhere. Walking out from behind the camera marked a transition in my life, both physically and mentally. By moving from observer to participator, and being part of something instead of watching others apart from me, I am developing a sense of confidence that helps me express myself more fully in the areas that are most important to me – to become more of a leader, and take new personal risks.
The African experience changed my behavior in dance, which is a big part of my identity. I have been dedicated to the art and beauty of performance since the age of 4. Projecting confidence, animation, and a willingness to take risks, has always been difficult for an observer like me. After my time in Africa, I felt more open to the idea of exposure and putting myself out there. After experiencing what it was like to set my camera aside, and throw myself into the moment of African dancing, culture and laughter, I became excited to take risks, star in parts of performances that I normally wouldn’t have taken, set examples for the younger dancers, and embody fearlessness in the face of possible discomfort.
I no longer want to be the dancer in the back row. I don’t want to dream about being the person who takes initiative and encourages others to experience and participate fearlessly; I want to be her.
Stepping away from the barre and getting out from the back row has given me the confidence to take risks that bring me to new challenges, allowing me to embody the developing concept that I have control over who I’m going to be.
Aerial silks is an example of this. From the moment, I was introduced to the world of Cirque; I have encouraged others to try the unique activity. Aerial silks take physical strength, self-trust, and a willingness to take risks. When suspended in the air by your grip on the material, you have to trust yourself to keep from falling. Putting myself in the position to fall, and letting my body be in control of what happens next, is a risk itself. It’s important to be able to push your limits and reach, even if what you’re reaching for is scary; like the top of the silks.
Since my trip to Africa five years ago, I frequently refer back to the moment that made such an impact and changed the direction of my life. The realization that I can be more than the girl behind the camera marked a transition that has prepared me to enter the world with an idea of how I can be a part of it. Applying this lesson to my everyday life and activities such as dance and aerial silks has given me the preparation and experience I need to continue to expand who I am. I plan to take the lesson I learned from becoming a doer and a participator and bring my new outlooks to college in my pursuit of international studies and expanding my dance experiences.
Emma has traveled to over 20 Countries in her 22 years. Often living with local families, she continues to be inspired by the people and cultures that she immerses herself in along the way. This unique time in our current world has given her time to plot her next travels. You can follow her adventures on her Instagram account at: www.instagram.com/_emma_jo