Little dots of red, green, yellow, and orange blurred together, filling up my entire vision. I saw the entire Pub crowd on the ceiling as I lay upside down on my back, held 3 feet off the ground. I should have felt vulnerable, weak, and passive but only feelings of safety, comfort, and even a little exhilaration passed through my mind. Six individuals supported my entire body as I lay parallel to the floor on top of their linked arms, which formed a pallet that rocked me back and forth. The timing of my fall and their support had to be precise. One wrong grip or missed linkage would have meant that I would have fallen flat on my back on stage in front of hundreds, embarrassed and possibly hurt.
I had practiced for my stage trust fall during dance practice the week prior. Before my first ever trust fall during practice, I was very nervous and kept saying, “please catch (and hold) me” to my fellow dancers while praying the same phrase inside my head. I couldn’t fathom just leaning back and falling passively because it goes against my self-preservation instincts. And to be completely honest, I actually do have trust issues. I had tried to get my fellow choreographer to fall instead, unsuccessfully using the argument that I was much heavier in comparison.
The first few falls were pretty uncoordinated. I hesitated a lot, kept one foot on the ground as insurance, and when I fell, my butt stuck out and my fingertips didn’t even reach the front two dancers. I felt as uncomfortable and awkward as I must have looked to any observer. In addition, the team’s control in swaying me back and forth was not synchronized: my head would head towards one direction while my torso somehow went the opposite way. The subsequent tries were slightly better but on my way back up, I would accidentally jab cheeks and foreheads with my fingers. Thank goodness I didn’t send anyone home with an eye patch.
The self-proposed theme of Cluster 2’s representative dance was “Keep Calm and Embrace.” The intended message was twofold.
First, in this craziness that is Wharton, we are lucky to be part of a smaller, more accessible community of people that we can count on and trust to be there for us at the end of the day. These were some of the very first people we met during pre-term, stressed together through core classes, and partied with at our Cluster specific events. This tight-knit community embraced each other to help us all transition to Wharton. I saw this in how the dance itself came together. We had students who volunteered their precious sleep time for daily dance practices. Dancing on stage for some (particularly the guys) was stressful but I was amazed and appreciative at their willingness to try something out of their comfort zone and put themselves out there for the entire school’s judgment. Among the dancers we incorporated both a partner and exchange student. And you know those amazing shirts that we wore? The ones that say Keep Calm and: “Save The World / Be Hung Over / Be On Dean’s List / LT / etc?” No, we did not custom order them online. A partner actually physically wrote those out using permanent marker in a record turnaround time. All these serve as examples that while we think ties to our fellow full-time MBAs are important, there are just as equally many amazing individuals in our immediate surroundings to meet, if we put in a little more effort.
Second, embrace who you are, the path that has led you here, and the path that you will embark upon. We are here through the culmination of our past experiences and who we are as individuals. Wharton is all about stretch experiences to push ourselves and it is all too easy to become lost in the whirlwind of opportunities here. We all want to improve upon and develop ourselves for the better but don’t forget the guiding light of your core self and your reasons for attending Wharton in the first place. Keep calm and take opportunities at your own pace because how you handle the journey enriches and in some ways, determine your experience for the future.
Class of 2017, this is a two-year experience of a lifetime and we are well underway!