For as long as I can remember, from the moment I could dream, I’ve dreamt BIG! I’ve always been sure of where I’ve wanted to go and what I’ve wanted to do in life. As I continue to pursue, or what others like to call “chase my dreams”, I keep in mind, no matter what, every moment is worth the journey.
Granted, I’ve fallen into many trials and tribulations, but for me no matter what, those “broken desires” have been conquered, and I continue to succeed. My mother has always taught me to continue to “Do your best and let God do the rest”. Hi, my name is ShirJuanda “Bounce” Woodson and I am a Dancer/Artist pursuing my dreams.
Today, I turned twenty-one and was able to look back on life thus far. All I could do was smile. I’m just what I want to be, although it has not and will not always be easy, I am succeeding. But there are always those few moments in life that success wouldn’t continue to happen if I hadn’t fallen and learned to get back up.
I remember it just like it was yesterday, my freshman year in high school. It was the start of competition season for dance, and major project season for school. Of course, I knew what came first in my household…school. The week after my fifteenth birthday, a long day at school, long day with the boyfriend, and only to follow all that up with a long night of dancing in preparation of the upcoming competition weekend, it all became a blur. All I can remember was calling my studio telling them I would finish a project and be on my way. My boyfriend at the time hugged me and said he felt something weird and wanted us to be good before we went our separate ways, and soon after, my father picked me up from school.
It all seemed so calm and cool, right? Wrong. Just like any other day, my dad had food prepared for me to eat on the way to dance in the car. I would run into the house, change into my dance attire and we would be on our way. But on this particular day, things were a little different. My brother met us at the front door just in time for a quick hello from his first spring break in college, said goodbye to me and I headed to dance. Just like any other day, I ate and conversed with my dad having our daily, “how was your day” conversation and just as this happened, I turned my head, saw the car, and yelled, “DDDDAAADDD!!!!!”
It was just like the movies. All I heard were tires screeching, glass slowly flying, and the world slowing down. Spinning three times, flipping three times, and I knew…we were hit.
Lost phones, broken glass, trembling and shaking, tears rolling down faces, red and blue lights, officers talking, but really all I could see and hear was nothing. I sat in shock. Although it was quite terrifying, I can say to this day my father and I were blessed, and God had other plans for our lives. But most of all, that day, I began to live.
We were taken to the hospital where they discovered I had one cut on my foot and a badly hurt back from whiplash. To this day, that still has some affects on me, but I live. Although I was unable to dance that weekend, surrounding myself around friends that loved me, I was able to learn a lot from just sitting and watching.
Many things could have stopped me along the way, but that little voice in the back of my head told me to continue to follow my dreams, because I’m destined to make dreams reality. Senior year before graduation, my father lost his job and after graduation my mother lost her job, leaving me to decide personally whether or not to go away for school in Virginia like I originally planned or stay closer to home.
I chose to stay closer to home and to stop dancing. I went to school at Oklahoma State where I enjoyed my freshman year in college, but the “no dancing” didn’t last too long. About a month into school, I was back in the local studio, Encore Dance, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Lord knew what he was doing. Turns out, Encore was run by my former studio owner in Grand Prairie, Texas, Mrs. Holly.
A year later, I decided to audition for Texas Christian University’s Dance Program, and made it. That next year I was surrounded by other artists just like me, but only not. Although TCU was all that I thought I wanted, it wasn’t. My journey was just different – different than what they offered. It was on to the next one, and there I found myself auditioning for the Joffrey Ballet School’s Summer Program, and from that I was also looked at to join their year Trainee Program. And here I stand as one of Joffrey Ballet School’s Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Programs students.
But is this where I want to be…not at all. I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “well then, why did you do it?” Here’s why. I never wanted to move to New York, but as they say, never say never until you try. I like the city. I like all that it offers, but for dance, it’s just not the style that suits me. I want to be a commercial dancer live in concerts, music videos, award shows, and touring with artists. So you’re probably thinking, “well then, where do you find this?” Well, I’ll tell you. You ready?……… I want to be a CALIFORNIA GIRL!
Recently, I stepped out on faith to put myself out on the market hoping for great results, and that’s just what I received. I decided to press towards this California dream and make it worthwhile, so I submitted my information to BLOC Talent Agency in New York and Los Angeles, and out of both, L.A. responded. I couldn’t believe it! I was in total shock. Thinking back on all my recent conversations with friends and family, all I’ve spoken about when it comes to dance is sunny Los Angeles. So why do I tell you this?
I tell you this because the greatest thing in life as a human is to follow your dreams and make them reality. But as humans, we begin conforming to the world around us and pursue dreams that the world sees fit, when in the end what fits to them most of the time is a misfit to us.
No, it has not been easy being a dancer and an artist trying to show people that I can make it in this crazy world we live in, but I realize that I am not the first or the last to go through this process. If you will it, it will happen when you believe and have confidence in yourself. I have always said “I am my own competition. No one can stop me from reaching MY dreams but myself”, and until this day I stand by this. The confidence I have in where I want to and have gone in life was because I believed in myself; and that has allowed others to believe in me just as much as I do. A supportive group full of love from those close to you will push you far, no matter how many times you have to fall and get back up.
Robert. A. Millikan, one of history’s greatest thinkers, once said, “We have come from somewhere and are going somewhere. The great architect of the universe never built a stairway that leads to nowhere”. You have to have a vision and know where you want to go and where you’re going in life.
I AM GOING TO CALIFORNIA!
I WILL BE A PROFESSIONAL DANCER!
I WILL MAKE IT!
…and I WILL SUCCEED!
Surround yourself by those who want to see you do great and you will go far. Surround yourself by those who have a plan in life, and you too, will plan and go far. Surround yourself with love and encouragement and you too will be encouraged to go far. Surround yourself with beauty and you too will be beautiful. Surround yourself with happiness and you too will find happiness. Surround yourself with confidence and positivity and you too will learn to have confidence and positivity. Because of all these things, from words of kindness and positivity, support from loving family and friends, and belief in myself, I am able to be ME!
Never sell yourself short of your dreams and aspirations in life. All dreams are made to become reality. The greatest leaders were once followers who knew where they wanted to go and were destined to make it happen. Be daring. Be confident. Be Different. “Different is the new normal”. But most of all….
DARE TO DREAM. DARE TO PURSUE.
Andrea Anderson says
Shirjuanda, in the words of Donald Lawerence “Your gift looks good on you,” continue to “Operate in your grace,” no matter how different it is or what others think and be that woman who dares!
Shirjuanda 'Bounce' Woodson says
Thank you Andrea! It truly is a blessing spreading my story and still being able to do and be me. I will always pursue my dreams. Thank you for your kind words they really mean everything.
I really enjoyed reading your story. i have always loved, been inspired, and looked up to you! keep doing your thing cant wait to see where God takes you!
Shirjuanda 'Bounce' Woodson says
Thank You! I really do appreciate the love and support! I’m so glad that I am able to inspire you and others in Dance and in life. 🙂