Staff Writer Julia Tolda is still traumatized by her 8th-grade jazz teacher who called her “the worst dancer she ever had the displeasure of laying her eyes upon.”

My dearest diary,

I have committed a grave mistake. There is nothing that can possibly save me now from the consequences of my reckless actions. I spend my nights awake day-dreaming, conjuring up schemes, praying for the end of my torture. I wait for a cancellation email during my psychology lecture, frantically refreshing my inbox. But alas nothing comes. There is no way to save my poor soul, no end to my pain. 

Twice a week I am forced into tight pink tights, a black leotard I bought from Amazon, and my mother’s old ballet shoes from the ’80s. I stand stupidly in front of the computer staring at my own image, that mirrored half a woman. She looks back at me and I wonder if I will one day come to recognize her. I ask God to grant me strength but receive in return only humiliation.

I must confess to you, my dear diary, the nature of my suffering. I am a bad ballerina. The worst some might say. The ballet professor speaks to us in a tongue I don’t understand, a carrousel of catastrophic port de bras and numbered positions I soon forget. My jétes end in kicks to my wall, my rond de jambes in foot cramps, my pliés in dislocated hips. I hold my makeshift barre until my fingers turn white, holding in tears. That chair is the sole witness to my biweekly demise.

“You could do a variation…” says my professor and I feel faint. I struggle to follow her steps, how could I ever vary them? She is sweet and wonderful at her job, and I am the idiot who thought she could take Ballet II. The other girls on screen have real barres and pretty tutus, they fondues are smooth and their frappes are strong. I turn off their videos, pretend I am the only student. But their voices haunt me, asking for complex steps and more jumps. In dreams, the pianist plays us songs by The Beatles and I am always out of sync in my developpes

It is too late for me, my sweet diary. Too late to run from the misery of being a terrible ballerina. Too late to ask for forgiveness. I must be strong. I must be brave. I must hold my head high and pretend I understand the difference between arabesques, pretend I know how to glissade, pretend my feet don’t hurt from the piqués

So when the class is over, I have two Nalgenes worth of water and I sit on the floor breathing heavily for at least 30 minutes. Then I have lunch and for a moment, I forget I am a shitty ballerina. I am just a tired teenager, full of endorphins, and late to her next class. The cycle begins anew and once again I am thrown in the middle of it, pointing my toes and perfecting my posture.

I pray for the day I am a good ballerina, my darling diary. I know it will come.

Yours for always,


Diaries Of A Shitty Ballerina, header by Ashley Canales.