I’m turning 30! I want to assess my results of my twenties by giving myself a decade review. Let’s do this:
When I was 20 [the year: 2005]
I was a sophemore at VCU working on dual degrees (BA, English & BS, Mass Communications). I was a first-year Resident Assistant at Brandt Hall, a first-year member of the VCU Dance Team, and I interviewed for a writer position at the school newspaper but ended up getting the News Editor position instead. I was dancing, writing, growing. I had a boyfriend who wanted to be a doctor, so I’d spend hours in the library with his notecards helping him study. We ate a lot of Thai food. I was starting to develop friendships that would last me a lifetime. I was an assistant for the Physics department at VCU.
When I was 21 [the year: 2006]
I turned 21 at midnight on an evening I was working at Richmond Times-Dispatch. I was surrounded by some of the best writers and thinkers I’ve ever met. Still today, I credit them with making me the writer I am today. I still danced, studied, wrote but now I could attend parties and drink a glass of wine (you know – legitimately, like a grown person). I was still helping my boyfriend at the time study for medical school tests, performing at basketball games, interning at Richmond Times-Dispatching, news editing for The Commonwealth Times, and teaching dance occasionally. I was placed on scholarship at VCU, which I am still thankful for today. It helped my life tremendously. But I also experienced a break up. The boyfriend I had been helping study graduated and went off to medical school. We went our separate ways, as friends, with mutual respect.
When I was 22 [the year: 2007]
I still remember this year as one of my most difficult years. It was my senior year, which was incredibly fun but it was also my first year at VCU without the boyfriend I had dated for two years. I had to re-establish myself as Sheena and not as half of a couple. I had a blast though. Good parties, good basketball games, fun dancing, great writing for newspapers. In 2007, a shooter went through Virginia Tech’s campus. I remember working tirelessly at the newspaper that night: identifying victims, fact checking, reading proofs. We stayed up well past midnight putting together that newspaper. It was one of my major newspaper mistakes. I had gathered information on a victim (first and last name) and we thought we had identified a photo of the person. Turns out, it was the correct name of the victim (and he had passed away) but it was the incorrect photo. I felt terrible. I learned to be more careful.
When I was 23 [the year: 2008]
I graduated from VCU and started working full-time for a law firm downtown. As a dancer/writer/recent graduate of college, I knew nothing about law. I met people who will be part of my memories forever. Their wittiness, their work ethic, their drive sticks with me today. I learned to pay close attention to detail (because the story is in the details and details are what make you win). I met a new guy at the end of this year. It was an incredibly unhealthy relationship. I learned that emotional abuse is a very thing real. I bought my first brand new car (a 2008 Hyundai Elantra). I paid it off in a year (thank you, law firm!) I lived at home, worked, and taught dance a local dance studio that was just down the street. Life was pretty scheduled, but it hadn’t hit me yet how much I’d hate that.
When I was 24 [the year: 2009]
I was still working at the law firm and becoming quite successful. My work was getting attention. I thought maybe I could be a lawyer. I registered for LSAT classes and started studying. I worked during the day, taught dance at night and I’d fall asleep immediately the second I fell into bed. I performed with We Are Artists and taught dance to children with special needs. I was still dating that guy (trying to convince myself that it could work) and I started to feel like I didn’t want to live at home. So I got an apartment in downtown Richmond (right across from the hotel where the Presidents speak) and started to realize how expensive life is. It was fun, though. Living alone taught me a lot about myself.
When I was 25 [the year: 2010]
I broke up with that guy. That relationship had eaten away at me and left me at 112 pounds. I was broken, lost and feeling incredibly weak. But I kept working by day and teaching dance by night. It’s funny looking back on these years. They were blurs of daily routine and wondering what’s next. I was starting to figure out that this life wasn’t the life for me. I had no interest in continuing life in this format. But I had no idea what I wanted it to look like yet. I was promoted from a Legal Assistant to a Paralegal. I got my own office with a door. I was making great money and saving most of it (because I knew something awesome was coming, but I didn’t know what). I started Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins (which would become an internationally-known dance education blog; but I didn’t know that yet).
When I was 26 [the year: 2011]
I started dating a new guy who was nice to me and made me laugh. For my 26th birthday, I did 26 Acts of Kindness. I rappelled down the side of a 400-feet building. In 2011, I started to really become a teacher. I started to care deeply for my students and started to figure out how I can be the best teacher I can be. My interest in education started to develop and SnagAJob wrote an article about it. I was also in a FlashMob. I started to really understand that happiness was in my control – which I knew meant major change was coming my way. I had knee surgery and had to go through the process of recovery, which for a dancer was trying and difficult. My mom got married.
When I was 27 [the year: 2012]
The guy I had been dating broke up with me. I went through some pretty severe sadness, but I came out stronger. I had now been at the law firm for 4 years: I was done. I had now honed my curiosities in education by doing my own research. I applied for graduate school, accepted, and prepared to move cities. It was time for me to go back to the barre and make dance education my career. I had a major yard sale and gave away my possessions. I was ready to move my life from good to great. And so I moved. I packed up my bags and moved to Norfolk to pursue graduate school. I started dancing for 10 hours a day and researching arts integration education. I loved every second. I was “grad-schooling” during the day and teaching dance at night. I was living in a condo on the water and I met one of my lifelong best friends who was my roommate at the time (whom I had met on CraigsList – so I went from thinking she’d murder me to totally loving her).
When I was 28 [the year: 2013]
I was in the depths of graduate school. I was attending weddings for my friends and staying single for myself. I was buying gifts for babies yet to be born and celebrating my female friends’ new stages of life. I was focused on school, my blog and that’s when I received a phone call from Answers.com. They wanted me to be their Dance Expert Writer! I became a dance writer (for pay!) a job I never expected would come my way. I began to learn about the digital experience in education. My blog was growing, I was producing work that I loved, and I was taking on new challenges. I worked so, so, so, so hard. I started a Dance Camp for Children of Prisoners (now in its third year).
When I was 29 [the year: 2014]
I graduated with my MSEd! I was called to be the School Director for Todd Rosenlieb Dance, a dance school associated with a professional dance company and an organization I had always looked up to! I started working at lululemon doing their social media. I was a contracted teaching artist with Young Audiences of Virginia, starting to bring dance into public schools. At the middle of being 29, that contracted position turned into a full-time job! I paid off all credit cards. I became a certified yoga teacher! After staying single for years, I met a new guy who took me bike riding and made me feel special. I never knew this is what life could look like! I bought a house! I became a college professor at ODU! I was interviewed for my first-ever Podcast interview on my work!
While it was challenging, I was happy. Bad things happened too. My apartment was broken into (I lost my lap top with my graduate school research – luckily, I had backed it up, and my iPad). I lost my grandmother in 2014, and this broke my heart.
My twenties included:
Virginia Commonwealth University (Two degrees, dance team, two newspapers, RA, best friends!)
Old Dominion University (Master’s degree, dance jobs, choreography, festivals)
Cool jobs (law firm, Answers.com, dance schools)
Creating things (Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins, clothing line)
Good stuff (Friends, relationships, family, travel, learned how to snowboard)
Bad stuff (Breakups, break ins, abruptly having to move, credit cards, death)
My twenties included finding myself, working hard, thinking deep, feeling everything and loving lots. I cried (oh, boy, did I cry), and I laughed (so, so much). Looking back, I did my twenties exactly how I wanted to!