Being a Teenager and Having a Passion Can Change Your Life Forever [VIDEO]

  |  Topic: Advice, Culture, My Story, Videos
By Destine Manson
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Dear Dancer,

Being a teenager and having a passion can change your life. I know this because having a passion for dance has changed my life forever. From spending hours in band practice or going through emotional losses as being part of a team, our passions help shape us throughout our youth through learning discipline, focus and essentially how to handle life. Missing football games and having to force yourself to form an unnatural dedication to schoolwork, all for the love of dance, is honestly really hard sometimes. On top of all of the small things, there is the financial responsibility that comes along with being blessed with rhythm.

I was not the same person before I started dancing, and I continue to change every day I walk into the studio. I went from being extremely shy and lacking confidence to feeling like Beyonce every time I stepped on the floor. Dance taught me to believe in myself before anyone else does and to have the mental stability to want to succeed in the industry. Even though I had a really rocky start, I kept going beyond my high school dance education to being a senior member on the world-renowned Dance 411 Company. Here’s how I got here and what I’m doing to stay.

First and foremost, dance is not an inexpensive passion. Paying for multiple classes each week definitely adds up — $5,000 to be exact. When I made it past the audition process for Dance 411, that is the massive number they threw at me in our personal parent meeting. Although I knew it would be a wise investment, I still stopped breathing for a second when I realized what I had gotten myself into. I expected my dad to pat me on the shoulder and tell me “well, it was a good try,” but instead he said “we would figure it out.”

In that moment, I remembered how my dad watched me cry while dancing as I prepared to audition for my school’s majorette team this past summer. I had spent hours dancing in my dining room that night, and now, weeks later in the Dance 411 studio, he was still there reminding me that despite experiencing a big shock I could still keep going and eventually life would “figure it out.”

Being a teenager and having a passion is ultimately all about figuring it out, right? After the meeting, I went home and started a gofundme page for my dance tuition. I also cracked open my crayon-shaped bank of coins that I’ve had since birth and turned it into paper to use for tuition. Currently, I am in the process of getting candy bars to sell so that older people who are not as experienced with the computer can also contribute to my cause.

I am still figuring it out as I go along with the help of my mom. I have learned never let one thing that doesn’t fall into place prevent you from experiencing something you are passionate about.

Whether it is having to take on another job or crying through your homework, it is important to decide whether your passion is something you are willing to give 110 percent. At the same time, it is important to not take yourself too seriously. Have fun and get sleep before your bones start to make weird noises and snap. It’s all a hustle at the end of the day, and as long as you have the right mental head space, what is there to worry about?


Destine, 17, attends Mays High School. You can catch her dancing in Dance 411’s Behind The Movement Benefit Showcase at the Lovett School this Sunday.

Video detail: Destine is dancing as a senior company member of Dance 411’s performance at the East Atlanta Strut this fall.

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