Beyond the Applause: Perspective for Gifted Athletes and Artists

A business woman whom I deeply respect once framed things for me as a choice: we can either embrace change as an opportunity to take control of our destiny or be dragged into change because there are no options left.  As someone who committed my youth and early adulthood to a single passion – classical ballet – and then had to find new passions and purpose when my dancing career came to a close, this approach to change resonated with me deeply.

During my dance career, my view of life was myopic at best. Beyond perfecting my craft, I saw no reason to expand my portfolio.  In my experience, dance was creative, but also stunting – sheltering me from other exciting opportunities that if explored with mentors earlier, would have set the wheels of discovery in motion long before my impending need to plan “Act II” of my life.

As I tried to navigate my way beyond the dance world (at the tender age of 22), I stumbled (no pun intended) upon two or three mismatches for careers. At the time, they all seemed to make sense post dance: business degree, fine arts management training, corporate marketing, teaching and becoming a wife and mom – but did I truly understand how to develop interests and purpose beyond my craft?

Will any performer, athlete, fine artist, designer or creative so engrossed in perfecting their skills make time to think about creating a plan B? With expert guidance, support and a clear vision of self, there will be a fulfilling life and successful careers beyond the applause. While working with students passionate about their art, looking no further than achieving creative goals, I often suggest they sample careers to develop a wider screen of vision – a view from the balcony versus the stage.  This broader perspective can help students embrace changes in their artistic or athletic pursuits as opportunities to make a new destiny.

Artists and athletes who take time to acknowledge a different view while pursuing their passion seem to have a better sense of why they need to develop skills and knowledge beyond their craft.
By all means, young people who have found a particular passion early in life should continue to develop their talents.  Once in awhile, however, take a look from the balcony and enjoy the view; learn how to expand your vision, unleash creativity and allow yourself to redirect your energies beyond the applause.

Chris Holzwarth, Independent Educational Consultant
Executive Director, Beyond The Applause

Chris Holzwarth received her certificate in College Admissions Counseling through UCLA and is an active member in HECA (Higher Educational Consultants Association), NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counseling), SACAC (Southern Association of Colleges and Counselors), and NCDA (National Career Development Association).  Beyond the Applause is committed to educating families throughout the college admissions and career planning years. We work with families in North Atlanta in-person and with many families through web meetings if they need long-distance support. We empower students to develop their passion while creating a solid plan for the future. Our education planning process emphasizes finding the student’s IDEAL matches for living, learning, success and affordability beyond high school and college. We work primarily with students in grades 8 through 12.


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