Taking Risks and Trusting Myself

I consider myself a person instinctively averse to change and risk. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my daily life – however, I try to never actively shy away from situations that call for change or risk.

Take for example my involvement with the spring play here at Hollins.

Distracted by Lisa Loomer, is a beautifully vibrant and funny play that deals with the hard-hitting topic of a mother exploring ways to help her nine-year-old son with ADHD. I play an educational psychologist with a whole lot of her own issues in the first act. The second act, however, I’m in the ensemble.

Some of my best memories in theatre were made as an ensemble member so I was initially thrilled. Then they told me – the ensemble will personify the son’s ADHD world through his favorite music and dance: hip hop.


  • I have no background in dance. Period.
  • I think I have a sense of rhythm, but always fear that because I only think I do, that I really don’t….
  • I’m very out of shape. Like, can’t remember the last time I worked out, out of shape.
  • AND with my ‘Mom’ haircut I don’t look like I could even convincingly dress like a hip hop dancer.

Walking into that first dance rehearsal, all I could think was: What the hell did I get myself into?

I won’t lie, that was the longest, most embarrassing, extremely exhausting hour and a half of my life. I had sweat pouring down my face and was already sore. (Which believe me, didn’t leave my body until about the fourth day post-hip hop experience…)

Around campus I started joking (only slightly) with folks that I hoped my director took one look at the rehearsal videos that were taken that night [preferably not the one in slow motion – YIKES] and just say, “Maya, you gave it a good college try, but I need you out of my ensemble”.

I think I dreamed about just that conversation happening and cried as I woke up… only to realize it was from barely being able to move due to the excruciating soreness seemingly all over my body.

Then I thought: But, did I really try?

The more I thought about that first rehearsal the more I realized that being out of shape wasn’t my biggest problem – it was that I had been so averse to this change that I hadn’t taken any risks.

Hollins has never failed to challenge me and offer some amazing opportunity for the risk. So, why was I scared to risk looking foolish in a room full of Hollins theatre people who love me, when I’ve risked so many bigger things like maybe not knowing a language enough to survive abroad?

Our second hip hop rehearsal went very differently for me. I tried harder to take risks, to look foolish, to fail – and to ultimately attempt to trust myself.

What else can you do but take a risk and trust yourself when you are asked to start working towards a handstand by placing your hands on the floor and kicking your leg up in the air?

That first moment of placing my palms to the stage and tensing up my shoulders as I raised a leg, I thought I felt my heart quake with fear.

But I took the risk and kicked my opposite foot up off the floor and felt weightless.

In that swift moment in the air I felt terrified, ecstatic, and foolish. Then I felt my weight rush briefly down my shoulders into my palms as I hit the peak of my small hop off the ground and… trusted myself.

The reward for my risk? A room full of my Hollins family cheering me on.

That sensation of taking a risk and trusting myself crept over from hip hop rehearsal, slowly but surely into my life as a senior.

That reinvigoration was exactly what I need to take some risks and trust myself enough to make plans for post-graduation that weren’t fraught with fear from the biggest change in my life I will face to date.

As one of my favorite actresses and women’s activists, Geena Davis, would say…

“If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.”


If you want to see my attempts at hip hop choreography or more importantly, this amazing little show called “Distracted,” reserve a ticket with the Hollins Theatre box office.

Showtimes: April 7-9th at 7:30 and April 15-16th at 7:30, 17th at 2:00