The importance of not assuming

by Henrik on October 21, 2011

Hi there, dear readers.

Today I’d like to share a quite personal story with you.

Skeletton, femur bone placementI was born with a severe hip displacement, a rotation in the femur-bone in both legs, causing my knees and ankles to face severely inwards towards each other. As I grew older, the angle of my feet and legs were causing difficulties while walking and running around with the other kids, and I kept stumbling over my own feet, hitting them into each other.

From the age of 6 until I was about 8, I went through a series of hip-surgeries. In simple words, the doctors cut open my upper thighs at the side, cut the femur bone, twisted it to a “normal” position, and fixed it there with two massive metal plates bolted together. The metal plates and bolts were later removed (I still have them in a drawer back home), after the tissue of my femur bone – now with my knees and ankles facing front – had grown together in it’s new position. The surgeries made me dependent of crutches or a wheelchair for about two years, depending on where in the process my two legs were at the moment. But it also made me able to later use those legs to follow a dream, and make it my living.

But let’s turn the clock back a little more, first. I am a four year old kid, with legs facing in all directions. After seeing some girls dancing ballet in a local ballet-studio during one of my little family’s daily walks around the neighborhood, I tell my parents I want to be a ballet dancer. Now, let’s face it, I didn’t exactly have the perfect starting point. I was an active kid, keen on doing anything and everything, at once, and completely and happily unaware of my handicap. But my parents were not, they saw that I was stumbling, that I was hitting my feet and kept falling. But they also saw that I got up every time, back on my legs, and kept running. Where some parents might think that the kid doesn’t stand a chance, my parents supported my idea of dancing ballet, and enrolled me at a local ballet school. They might not have known at the moment what a pillar this should become in my life, but they supported my idea then, as they have kept doing every step of my bumpy and curvy road towards becoming a ballet-dancer. They have always been my strongest support, and that four year old kids idea grew into the passion of my life.

This is me performing at my graduation concert. When I left the stage, I was, officially, a ballet dancer. Never assume you can't do it!

When I was 19, I was back at the doctors office for a routine check, 10 years after finishing my surgery. I’ve had close to no problems with my legs ever after, and rarely think about the surgeries. The doctor looked at my scars, tested the flexibility of my joints and found everything to be working as it should, much to my pleasure. He continued to ask what I was doing, what my hobbies were, just for small-talk, I guess. I had just been accepted into the Hungarian Dance Academy, a full-time professional dance academy, and proudly pronounced: ‘I am going to be a ballet-dancer’. The doctor started laughing, thinking I was joking, and said: “well, we sure didn’t operate out your sense of humor”. I assured him, I was not joking at all, and now it was my time to laugh. The doctor assumed what my parents didn’t back when I told them I wanted to be a dancer – that it would be impossible. How could he know?

I’ve always known that there is the opportunity my legs wouldn’t manage the strain ballet training causes. I still do, I know someday it might be my hips that finally causes me to end my ballet career. And so what? If it isn’t my hips, it would be something else. Nobody dances forever. But if I were to think like the doctor, I would never had danced at all. And that would be a shame.

The only thing left to remind me of my surgeries today are the two large scars on my thighs. I have been offered to have them removed, but I kind of like them where they are – a proof that it is possible, a reminder not to give up without a fight. And a reminder how important my parents endless support is.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

jgoreham October 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Great post Henrik, very inspiring!

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:52 am

Thank you, glad you liked it! :)

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Hannah October 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm

that’s a really amazing story. i’m really glad you shared it. and that you grew up and became a ballet dancer, against all odds : )

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:53 am

Thank you, and believe me, so am I! I don’t feel there is too much extraordinary to my deeds, I was just a kid who wanted to become a dancer. What is extraordinary is that my parents, teachers and other adults allowed me to try, and here I am.. Glad you liked the post

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Martina October 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

This is incredibly inspiring. I personally came across many situations in my life I am glad now that I did not listen to other people telling me it would be impossible. At least try. If it does not work in the end, you cannot say you have not tried. Cancel impossible from your vocabulary and work hard for your dreams.

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:55 am

You are absolutely right! I’m glad you felt inspired by my post. It’s the things you never do you regret! ;)

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Oliver October 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Wow! What an inspiration! Amazing what you have accomplished Henrik!

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:55 am

Thank you, Oliver!

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Jeff October 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Wow, what an inspiration to us all to keep up that fighting spirit. I’m going to dance with more conviction now. :) Thanks so much for sharing!

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

Thanks, Jeff, I’m glad you found it inspiring. I don’t really feel like what I did was too extraordinary, I was really just given the chance, and took it. But imagine if they would’a told me I can’t..

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Ter-O-Fla October 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

An amazing story. Thank you so much for telling it! That is very inspiring.
You have spirit and passion; two most important things. You have overcome what would have stopped many people; what could possibly stop you now? Good for you!

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thank you. As a dancer, something will “stop you” sooner or later – no-one is above the laws of nature. But as a human being, I do plan to continue developing and finding new things long after my dance career has ended. Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you found the post inspirational

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Ter-O-Fla October 22, 2011 at 8:20 am

You are so right that as a dancer, something will stop you, eventually. The rest of life is so much longer than the dancing life, and if you have this amount of determination and passion, then you can “go places” most other people would just dream of. :)

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

I am starting to realize that myself – dancers often think of “life ending” when their career is over (at least as long as they are still dancing). I’m realizing, there are so many things in this world you can do with your life, and I’m actually looking forward to doing other stuff as well. Not that I want to quit dancing, but it’s like a carrot there in front of me – when you finish, theres a whole life waiting for you.
Thank you for your kind words, I do hope you are right :)

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Mary Lou October 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

This is truly moving. Thank you for sharing your story with us. *virtually hugs*
I began taking again ballet classes – as an hobby – two years ago, at 28 (I had given up when I was a little girl of 12). I have a certain amount of femural anteversion (‘strabic’ knees – just knees, my feet face forward instead) – nothing compared to your past issue – but it’s something that often causes me a certain amount of pain when I do physical exercise and even more often a fair amount of frustration because, as you might guess, this reduces noticeably my en-dehors. Now I feel I don’t have ANY reason for complaining. :’) You could not guess that when writing, but truly you’ve made a happy person tonight. Lots of love to you, thank you for showing us your courage. :)

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

Thank you for your comment, Mary Lou.
To be honest, I think you are the courageous one. I had surgery, ok, but before the surgery I was happily ignorant to my “handicap”, and after, my body has worked without any bieffects ever since (knocking wood). So really, I don’t feel my “achievement” is too large – I have just had luck in my situation, and followed my dreams. When you do ballet, regardless of your femural anteversion and the pain and complications it might cause, you are the one showing courage!!
But I am very happy my post could make you happy! Thank you for your comment!!!!!

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Noora October 22, 2011 at 4:54 am

Normally I would say something like wow here, but that just left me completely speechless, wordless…I’m going to print this out and tape it on my wall, and look at it every day to remind myself that where there is a will there is a way. Thank you for sharing this amazing and inspiring story.

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

wow, I’m honored. I’m glad my story could inspire you! Thank you for your comment!

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Johanna October 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

Dear Henrik, you had me in tears. Seriously.

I´m so in awe of that young boy who had a dream amd made it real, dancing against all odds.

Billy Elliot who? Henrik, you´re my hero!

- Johanna

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Henrik October 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Dear Johanna,
Thank you! But I don’t think its right to give me so much credit. As my surgery was never presented to me like some sort of handicap or obstacle in life, I never really thought of it as one either. Hence, I was just a boy doing what I loved the most, more and more of my time. It wasn’t really before I was old enough to understand myself the potential outcomes of such a surgery (I met a girl I was in hospital with ten years after. She went through the same surgery, today, she has to walk with a cane, 26 years into her life..) that I realized me becoming a dancer was far from given.
The real heroes are my parents, who never ever held me back or tried to get me to another, safer path, but always supported, helped and pushed me forward towards the goal of my chosing. If anyone deserves the grace, its them
I’m glad my story inspired you, after all, it is any bloggers dream, right?! :)
Thank you for your nice comment!

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Gina Downey October 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

That’s a great story Henrik! Big hugs to your parents too ;)

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Henrik's dad October 23, 2011 at 1:25 am

Thank you for sharing this story with everybody, Henrik, and thank you so much to you and to all commentators for all compliments.
Yes, he was stubborn, that little guy, and continued training and dancing, also during rehab-periods after the two big surgeries. You told about the doctor who laughed at you, but you didn’t tell about your contact with the surgeon who actually did the work. She did a good job, but she refused to believe you, and refused to recommend you a dancing career – and this was when you had been dancing for something like 8 years after the last surgery and rehabilitation.
Of course we’re proud of you here back home, but the most important thing is everybody’s right to do what they really want to do, whatever it is as long as it is a positive and peaceful activity.
All you dancing and dancing-interested people out there: If you can support somebody with something that they really want to do – do it! Even if you yourself don’t know anything about it – as it was with Henriks mother and father when it came to balet. We have learned a little bit over the years now, but for everybody who don’t do it, balet and other types of dance will allways be something extremely fascinating and beautiful – and that’s about it. May be not unattainable, but very close…
If you have somebody in your family or othervise near you that wants to become a professional football-player, a carpenter, an expert in sanskrit (a long gone ancient language) or whatever else that is strange for you – support them. Give them the help that you are able to, if so only in words. (Sometimes support also can be to dissuade, but try to avoid it as long as possible, unless you deal with a blind kid who wants to become a pilot or something like that!)
Nearly everybody can do what they really, really want to do, if they want it hard enough and work hard enough for it. I’m happy to be the impressed father of a guy who did, and made it.

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Henrik October 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

My dad, my biggest fan and supporter! I guess I am a good example that everyone can do what they want, as long as they want it enough (apart from that blind kid and the pilot thing, perhaps).

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Imogen October 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm

This is indeed an inspiring story. Henrik, you have parents to be proud of. And they have a son to be proud of, too. It has really made my day reading this post!

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Henrik October 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

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Katie October 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Wow. I’m stunned. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I have kinda been debating whether or not I should go for the career I truly want to pursue, and this was a kick in the right direction. If a kid with a hip displacement can become a professional ballet dancer, who says I cant become a successful performing artist?

This is truly inspirational. Thank you :)

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Henrik October 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

That’s right, Katie, you can! :)
I’m glad I inspired you – it’s every bloggers dream, right?! Thanks for your comment, and good luck with that dream. Remember, it might not be easy, but it is possible as long as you want it! Let me know how it works out! Thanks for your comment!
H

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Vicki October 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

What a beautiful story Henrik! Much love to you – keep being an inspiration.

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Adult Beginner October 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Seems like every professional dancer has to beat the odds in some way, but you didn’t just beat the odds, you beat the odds and turned it around and smacked it’s bottom!
So neat to be reminded that there’s always more to a person’s story.
And omg, how awesome is your dad! Loved his comment, cheers to both your parents.

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Henrik October 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm

:) thank you for your kind words. And yes, he is kinda awesome :)

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Teri Z October 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! You have wonderful parents!

I have 3 children, my middle guy has had 3 strokes and is autistic- because of his first stroke they had told us he’d never walk. When he was 7 he started taking ballet (he obviously walks,) and made more progress through ballet then any physical therapy. He is 11 now, and he no longer takes ballet because his true passion is tap. Like your parents, we knew the only things he couldn’t do were the things we told him he couldn’t do. Instead, we encourage him to try anything he wants. His instructor tells us that several times she will give the class a combination that she doesn’t think David will be able to do, and he’ll be the first one to get it down.

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Henrik November 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

wow, great to hear! Your David is my kinda guy – and you are great parents knowing that his only limitations are what you put up for him! Thank you for sharing your story, cheers to David, may he have lots of happy-tap hours :) H

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Fayet November 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm

What an inspiring story – thanks so much for sharing it! I think overcoming something that could potentially hold us back is one of the greatest experiences in life, something that makes you aware of what you really can do and what you can’t do – and also shows you how strong you really are. I had some severe problems when I was fifteen and was told that I never could do what my dream was to do – but I didn’t care, moved on, did my best and literally worked my behind off.. and it worked. I don’t know how and why, but today I stand where I was told I could never go, and sometimes it makes me grin when I think about what everybody told me. Because everybody was so wrong. But then it also makes me appreciate the place where I am right now, because other people may have taken a nice stroll to get where they are now, but I had quite a few mountains to climb – and now I can fully enjoy the view. At least for a while.

It’s beautiful that you can do what you were dreaming of. Especially when it’s such a dream as dancing.. :)

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Catherine November 17, 2011 at 5:58 am

Wow Henrik. I had no idea. What an amazing story you have! Thanks so much for sharing it.

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Kit December 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

Hey Henrik,

This was a very amazing story. Keep up the good work!

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KP December 14, 2011 at 5:09 am

Being a professional dancer is a job you cannot do without passion, and you have a lot of it. Thankfully dance is so much of a culture that you never have to completely give it up. Though there is nothing that can be compared to the feeling of dancing on stage, moving and thinking harmoniously in the moment. It can be miraculous, as you know. I love the title of this piece and how you have the scars like tattoos to remind you not to assume. You are bringing so much beauty into the world both by dancing and blogging.

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Henrik January 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for your nice words. Dancing on stage truly is a special feeling, and I think I wont ever quite find something to replace it. Or who knows – sooner or later, we all have to find out. I’m glad, and flattered, that you enjoy my blog. H

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Ingrid Lamark December 16, 2011 at 11:36 am

This is Henriks’s sister speaking:

MY BROTHER KICKS ASS!

To everyone reading and participating here at T’n'T: It’s SO great reading all your great comments, so full of your support and enthusiasm. Thanks for making me even more proud of my bro.

Thumbs all the way up!

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Catherine December 18, 2011 at 1:23 am

Hi Henrik’s sister! Your brother is the best! How sweet of you to make a comment here in support of him! :) Happy holidays!

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Henrik January 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm
Stefanie Lein January 1, 2012 at 3:19 am

Henrik,

Wow. I love this story. It is so very inspiring and a great reminder that I don’t know, not even my limitiations. Many times all that I’m incapable of in the moment is all I can see. I fail to recognize the possibility for change, my potential. This is empowering and exciting. Thank you so much for sharing of yourself. I hope to read more. I’m on a little journey of transformation through dancing, myself, and can use all the inspiration I can find.

-Stefanie

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Henrik January 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Dear Stefanie, Thank you for your words – I’m glad to hear you find my story inspiring! Hope to see you ’round the blog!
Cheers,
H

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Stefanie January 4, 2012 at 11:22 pm

You are welcome! I mean every word. And you’ll see me around :)

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Chloe February 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

Appreciate the inspiration! I can always use a bit of that :)

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Germaine Shames March 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Dear Henrik,

I’ve come upon this post very late, I realize, but feel compelled to echo the comments that have come before and to add, what a beautiful father and sister you have! How proud you have made them. I came to your blog expecting the usual reviews and commentary and found instead this personal gem of inspiration. Bless you.

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Henrik April 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

Dear Germaine, Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I do have the best family in the world :) for which I am extremely grateful!

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Amy July 3, 2012 at 4:16 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I myself can somewhat relate to it. I dance as well (I’m not part of a professional academy or anything like that, but I find small ways to keep it in my life). I have a problem with my left knee, suffering several dislocations. I haven’t had any surgeries yet, for these are seen as a last resort to my doctors. I have to make sure I’m doing daily exercises to strengthen my leg muscles to hold that darn knee cap in place. I think that’s great that you didn’t let your condition keep you from doing what you love and to go on and getting accepted to a professional dance academy. (What is your most current project these days?) Your story is inspiring to me. Its stories like yours that push me to keep dancing, regardless of the pain and obstacles we face. I love dance way too much to let an injury get in the way of it. It certainly helps having the right support an encouragement. Thank you again for sharing.

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