(Photo by Paolo Santos, courtesy Eliana Girard)

Eliana Girard Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

She's known as the ballerina with soul, but Eliana Girard's versatility has helped her shine even brighter. On top of being crowned America's Favorite Female Dancer on Season 9 of "So You Think You Can Dance," she's appeared in shows like "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Glee," performed with Taylor Swift on her RED Tour, and was the youngest aerialist to star in the Cirque du Soleil "Viva Elvis!" cast. She's even co-choreographed and starred in a short dance film.

Currently, you can catch her teaching at Celebrity Dance Convention as a faculty member, and still wowing us with her flawless technique and legs for days. Be sure to follow Girard at @iamelianarose to keep up with her journey. —Nyamekye Smith

A photograph of seven year old Girard smiling, wearing a white tutu and holding a bouquet of flowers.

Girard at age seven, in her second dance recital (courtesy Girard)

Dear Eliana,

The first thing I'll remind you is that you have no idea what you are capable of. This is the time of your life to discover your natural abilities. Be ambitious, be unapologetic, and remember that what you seek always lies within, never in someone or something else.

Never, ever hold back. I can tell you from experience that this has been the poison to personal development. Everyone's purpose in life is to achieve their fullest potential, and dimming your light for peer acceptance will not only hinder your progress, but will make you feel grumpy and twisted inside without truly knowing why. The nature of the soul hungers for growth.

I know you were bullied and isolated in and out of the dance studio. However, those experiences prepare you for the greater things to come.

If your dance mom, Miss Sue, hadn't pulled you aside to show you a Dance Spirit article pertaining to bullying, you wouldn't have been ready for the trying times when you went from being the favorite to completely ignored because of your body developing. Ignore those unhealthy teachers! Absolutely love and appreciate the gorgeous body God gave you! You are only young once; no need to waste time hating the vessel chosen for you.

You won't be able to survive three grueling years working for Cirque du Soleil if you don't have tough skin to keep pushing when there's no energy or inspiration left. The early years in isolation and solitude will prepare you for the huge life change that happens after you win "So You Think You Can Dance." You'll discover people want you for your energy and talent, but vigorously protect yourself like a precious gem. You're here to serve a greater purpose, not to people-please and blend in with the crowd.

The road to success is paved with failures. Fall in love with your failures, for they develop into your greatest strengths. Become friends with exhaustion, for in that space you discover the warrior status inside that waits to be awakened.

The dance industry—really, any industry—isn't for the faint of heart. If you truly believe in yourself, then so will everybody else. And, baby girl, you were meant to fly! Soar past the loneliness at night when cast members would go out and not invite you. Remember true friends come in rare forms and at unpredictable times, and they always find you. Be the trailblazer you were destined to be. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and always stay in the gratitude lane of life.

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