It was in the middle of my third and final year of my PhD when I was offered the chance to start teaching pole. I had been a pole student for a few years and been dancing my entire life, including coaching dance on a regular basis since I was 13 years old. I originally signed up to support a friend who was super keen on trying pole but before I knew it I was attending classes at least twice a week, quit my regular dance genre after 23 years and was finding myself at the studio more and more.
I agreed to begin training as an instructor as a something fun to do while I waited for my thesis result and applied for jobs for the following year. I always had grand plans for my future career. I loved research and I had a talent and understanding of chemistry that isn’t easy to come by. I had worked hard, produced great results, published and made good connections and was on my way to landing my ‘dream job’ – a post-doctoral position overseas.
By the end of that year, I’d started to seriously consider competing and loved my instructing job so much that the thought of leaving to go overseas started to lose its shine and I begun looking for jobs closer to home. As I delved further into the pole world I started to realise that I had actually begun to procrastinate over my job applications and had actually made the decision to not even apply to many ‘dream job’ opportunities, with excuses ranging from ‘its not quite in my field’ (not true, it was completely within my niche research) to ‘ I ran out of time’ (no I didn’t, I’d spent months avoiding it), when really it was the thought of having to give up this new found passion that kept me wanting to move forward. Scientific research, particularly in an academic setting is a 24/7 career, having watched my supervisors over the past 4 years work endlessly on their research, most of them forgoing family, health, fitness and hobbies, I knew that I would have to choose between the career I always envisioned and the new passion I had found that was giving me a new lease on life. Little did I know that I was in fact already moving forward in my life, it was just in a different direction than I imagined.
I made the decision to stop applying for my ‘dream jobs’ in early 2014, and instead focus on pole, both teaching and competing, for the next year – I figured that since I had gone straight from high school to an undergrad degree to an Honours year and then onto a PhD that I deserved a ‘Gap Year’ to pursue my passion. It’s four years later now and I haven’t looked back.
In that time I’ve grown into a confident pole instructor and couldn’t imagine not teaching my wonderful students each week. It’s a special thing to be able introduce someone to a sport that you absolutely love, nurture their own love for it each week and then watch their passion continue to grow. En Pointe has become my second family, filled with people who inspire me daily and never fail to support and encourage everyone around them. I’ve had countless opportunities to compete and perform on some amazing stages and I love that I’m still a competitive dancer as I enter my 30’s (in my old dance form you where ‘over the hill’ at 25!). On top of all these things I also discovered another passion of mine – sewing! Thanks to pole I now have my own little business, designing and sewing custom pole and aerial costumes.
Whilst in the midst of my PhD, I always worried about being able to achieve the perfect balance in life- work, relationships, enjoyment. Now, thanks to pole, I’ve learnt that if you continue to actively pursue your passions and are lucky enough to be able to turn those passions into your dream job, then the perfect balance happens naturally. I am definitely one of the fortunate ones and have the wonderful sport of pole to thank for it.