After I graduated from college, I went out to a restaurant with about 10 members of my family to celebrate. My graduating was and still is a huge accomplishment, not because I was the first to graduate from college in family; I was not. It was an accomplishment, because I graduated in 4 years, a double major, while working. My parents were aware that graduating from college takes about 5 years now, but 4 years was all they could afford–especially my father. My father and stepmother have 10 kids. 8 of them are younger than me, so there really was no time to figure it out along the way. This dinner was also a big deal personally, because it was the first time my mother and father had been less than 3 feet from each other longer than 5 minutes since my early childhood. It was either going to go really well or be World War 3.
So after a few round of drinks, when my father stood up to make a toast I thought, “Oh Lord. Here we go!” But instead of saying something my mother would find offensive, he said something she agreed with!!!! I was shocked! On May 17th, 2008 my father said, “Jerome we are so proud of you. You are now officially cut off!” My mother said, “Ditto!”
The next question was obviously, “What are you going to do for money?” I laughed and said, “I don’t know.” I was and still work with South County Dance in Orange County when I’m available, and I had a slew of workshops lined up throughout that the summer. I wasn’t too worried. My father said, “You need to work there Monday through Friday,” hinting that I needed to buckle down and get serious. I laughed it off and glanced across the table looking at everyone else’s reaction. It got real quiet lol! When I looked at my aunt’s face, she said, “You do what you want to do.”I love this quote by Kelly Cutrone, “I advise you to quit sharing your dreams with people that try to hold you back… even if they’re your parents.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my father. He does support me—probably more now, because I’m successful—and we speak often. Still, I understood the spirit of his concern. When you’re in grade school learning about professions, your teachers never talk about being a Professional Dancer or Choreographer. In fact, in grade school, they mention just about every career but being a Professional Dancer and Choreographer! Even in the entertainment industry, dancers are the last one’s on the call sheet and the first to get fired. But you know what?? Though I had no clue what I was getting myself into 4 years ago, I’ve enjoyed this journey and would do it ALL over again. That’s the truth!