Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash In my years of working in corporate and startups, I’ve always been taught one fundamental principle in business: always…
I was 14 and felt lost in life. Ok, that sounds silly considering I was only 14, but perhaps it was teenage angst that almost drove me across the line.
I was an only child in a disjointed family who went to an academic-focused school. Apart from being forced to focus on my studies, I was also pressured to learn piano every day.
You had no control over what you wanted to do, and the pressure, especially coming from an Asian family as an only child, made you question if the years ahead were really worth it. I never told my parents about it because, as a kid, I learned to bottle everything up, especially when your parents were fighting.
Moving ahead, I'm glad I didn't do anything drastic, as today, I am surrounded by the people I love. But the one thing that pulled me out of the ditch wasn't people. It was dance.
It was lunchtime, and I asked one of my friends where 'Andrew' was. He told me that he saw him head towards one of the rooms near the woodworking area. I had nothing else better to do, so I wandered down to the rooms, and that's when I heard music being blasted inside. When I approached the room and peered inside, I saw a few others in my grade who were practicing moves on the ground.
This was my first taste of breaking, and as a curious teenager adolescent, I knew I had to give it a go. To be honest, when I first joined and started learning the basics, it wasn't that amazing. It wasn't a love at first sight kind of thing. But like many things in life, it grew on you over time if you gave it time.
I was able to learn moves, and over time, I was able to piece it together through freestyling. This meant every time I went to the floor, it would be different from the run previously. Breaking is an art form at the foundation, and the moves helped me communicate my emotions outward.
Some people write their frustrations out while others might sing. Instead, I danced them out every time I was frustrated or thought about doing anything stupid. It was an avenue to express myself without needing to hurt myself (apart from breaking my hand). I even quit piano to dedicate more time to it after protesting against my parents that I no longer wanted to practice on the keys.
By the time I hit college, I immediately got involved in both dance societies that were present there. I ended up being on the committee for both, heavily invested in promoting the dance scene across my college and others in my state.
I was no longer depressed, making many new friends, and I felt like I was actively contributing back to something. Not only was I being involved in helping promote events, but I was also involved in helping the breaking scene grow by starting a new training area within the college dedicated to breakers.
I also started to enter a lot more competitions, trying to improve my skills daily. An important part of breaking is its competitions and going against others at a head to head level.
It was an exciting time for me in my youth, but I realized it became unhealthy over time.
It was around the end of my second year when I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life. Most of my friends were either working or looking for work, yet here I was, dedicated to dance.
Similarly, around this time, I had a talk with a close friend who was older than me about my future career. I had no idea what I wanted to do, enrolled in a business degree that was up in the air. After telling him my marks, he told me that I should seriously start focusing more on my studies. Deep down, I knew this but didn't want to accept it.
It was here when my mum came into my room, and she sat next to me. She started to speak, and it was something no kid ever wants to hear from their parents. She had gone for a screening, and it was revealed she had developed breast cancer.
Although it was only Stage One (thank god), this moment immediately switched a light bulb in my head. I had to re-organize my life, and as an only child, the burden of needing to support my parents in the future dawned on me.
Worldwide, breaking has always been a hobby and never something that you could do full-time. Apart from some of the top breakers globally, everyone else has to either balance a job or build their own business around it. Even with one of my friends committing and dropping out of college to pursue dance full-time, I knew that this wasn't the right thing to do.
Although dance was there for me when I needed it, I had to abandon it to focus on my life.
I knew I had to enter the next phase in my life, and dance wasn't going to be a part of it. It sounds silly yet again, but I'm the type of person to go all in or nothing.
I started refocusing on my studies, bumping my marks high enough so I could apply for graduate positions. I even abandoned a holiday with friends on the day of my flight when I heard I got a job for an unpaid internship.
I knew it wasn't ideal, but I remember texting my friends that I wasn't going with them so I could take the job. This job led to my second internship, which was paid, and eventually, I got a graduate job at one of the biggest Fortune 500 companies here in Australia.
Although I do the occasional practice privately, I no longer attend jams, competitions, or involve myself with the scene.
With the announcement of breaking in the Paris Olympics in 2024, I am excited to see breaking being more recognized globally. It's still a long way away before it becomes something that artists and dancers worldwide can do full-time, but in my opinion, this is a start. Although many in the community are against breaking in the Olympics, I know many who are also for it.
Sometimes in life, habits can be both healthy and unhealthy over time. Ironically, the one thing that I could rely on when I was at death's door is the one thing that I had to get rid of to move ahead with my life.
Even though I don't properly break anymore, I am forever thankful that it saved me when I needed it the most.
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