When a 5-Year-Old Chooses Your Dance Shoes

I believe that we can learn a lot from our 5-year-old selves. Children keep things simple – they have big dreams without worrying about them being too difficult to achieve, they live in the moment and don’t get hung up on the past or the future and they’re honest about how they feel about people. In short, little homies keep it real, yo.

One day I'll be this tall!

One day I’ll be this tall!

When I was 5 I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina. I was in a ballet class where I got to dance around to music, have fun with friends, wear pretty pink shoes and even put on a show at the end of the year. I was a shy and quiet child, but dancing brought something else out of me. I even enjoyed being on stage. My mother keeps a framed photo of me dressed in my green dance costume, right before a performance. I look like a total dork, but that picture brings back memories of how excited I was that day.

20 years later, I discovered swing dancing, which brought back the same kind of childlike joy I felt in that tutu. I love love love everything about this dance – it’s a social dance, so you get to interact with new people all the time, it’s danced to the kind of music I grew up listening to (thanks, dad!), it’s a creative outlet, there’s always something to learn and ways to improve… I could go on and on, but most of all it just makes me happy. Nowadays I dance and teach Lindy Hop regularly and it’s become an inseparable part of my life.

Unfortunately for my bank account, this activity grants me a valid excuse to shop for shoes. When in a dance shoe store some time back, I was drawn to a pair of pink Greek dance sandals.  They weren’t the type of shoes I came looking for, so I left them in the display window. A few days passed and I still had them on my mind, like a puppy you see at a pet store. I had to go back and take them home with me. I mean, what kind of girl says no to pink shoes?

While they might not always be the ideal support for my hopping feet, they help me keep sight of why I put so much time and effort into Lindy Hop. I wear them for my 5-year-old self who dances because it’s what makes her smile.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were 5? Can you find any relation to that in your life today? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


21 thoughts on “When a 5-Year-Old Chooses Your Dance Shoes

  1. I wanted to be a truck triver. Lo and behild! I now posess a truck driver’s license. Check 🙂
    Swing descended on me like a warm summer rain on sunny day. I bet the 5 year old me would have loved watching me dance.

  2. This brought a little sprinkle of a tear to my eye… I can’t actually remember what I wanted to be when I grew up – but I can definitely appreciate the notion of dancing if for no other reason then to keep in touch with the little child still inside… Wonderful post!

  3. I wanted to be a pilot… Insted, my medical profile (mild astma…) shattered that dream, So I went studying and became an Aerospace engineer instead… Then I did my masters degree in it, and today I’m on my way to be a cognitive scientist… (Still didn’t figure out which one’s better – rocket scientist or brain scientist…)

    Excellent post!!
    Especially liked the “Little homies keep it real, yo”. Gonna quote you on that 😉

  4. 5 year old me wanted to be the the Ramatkal – the higher commander of the IDF – just to prove that girls can do that as well. Nowadays, I’m far from pursuing a military career, but as a dancer I swing both as a follower and a leader – just to prove girl can do that as well 🙂

  5. So I was browsing through my Facebook activity log (Shut up! We all do it!), when I chanced upon this little ditty that you wrote and I liked from over a year ago, during our concurrently timed trips to New York : “Something I thought of on the plane ride home – Strive to become the person your 5 year old self wanted to be when they grew up, while creating memories your 85 year old self will enjoy looking back on”. This article has been gestating for a long time hasn’t it?

    • Yes, you’re right, Tal! This post grew from that thought exactly. I think that around that time I read something that said “would 5 year old you like who you are today?”, and that got me started thinking about the subject. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I’m actually doing something that little Maya would have loved.
      By the way, another thing I wanted to be at that age was a writer. So I’m happy that I’m able to fulfill that wish in some way as well 🙂

  6. This is lovely, Maya, and really makes one think. I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was five. I can only remember myself being concerned with obtaining more Barbies and Little Ponies 🙂 When I was six years old I also took ballet lessons (doesn’t every little girl? it’s like a rite of passage).
    I didn’t stick with it, and it came to be the first of several hobbies I took up and then abandoned at some point: piano lessons, guitar lessons, tennis, painting, sewing, etc. The only hobby that I stuck with consistently was reading, but then, it’s not really a hobby, is it? This is why swing dancing was such a revelation for me as well – doing something for the pure fun of it, and instead of growing tired with it eventually, liking it more and more as time passes.

    • Thanks Dafna! Swing is also like that for me. I never put so much time and effort into any other hobby before, I always did things for a while then got over them. Swing is the first that kept challenging me and never leaves a dull moment. I think one of the reasons we all love it so much is exactly the fact that it doesn’t make things easy, but rather continues to supply us with things to work on and improve on.

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