finding your brilliance

By Claire Kraemer

I’m bitter about losing valuable time. I only get four years of college. years dedicated to personal growth, learning, and making lifelong friendships. I’m mad that my parents and brothers got a full four years. they had their time to be teenagers and live in the fairyland that is a college campus. my parents can remake a year in their 50’s and my brothers can recreate a year in their 20’s. They will have the same job and live in the same place. I can’t live in the same dorm hall, or on east campus ever again. there isn’t a time in your life when your biggest problems revolve around a final paper or exam. There isn’t a time when all of the people who are most important to you are living within 100 yards of you.


For a week after I returned home, I rarely left my bed other than to create a new baked good and later return to my cave. Even trying to schedule a zoom call with my friends seemed like too much effort. 


On a beautiful day of sun shining through my window to the extent that it was blinding, I decided that I had to force myself outside. I was in one of the best places to be quarantined, the side of a mountain in Wyoming, and I was wasting it. I needed to go outside and breathe fresh air. 


When school was first cancelled, I hated the idea of being stuck in the least populated state with no one to interact with but my family. I thought I would miss out on meet ups with my friends who were in closer proximity to one another. I didn’t realize that everyone would be as isolated as I was, I just had the advantage of outdoor isolation.

This week I was asked to create a five minute video of me dancing for my seminar class. no other instructions were given. I love to dance. I really do, but I am not a great dancer without instruction. At camp when I was little, I would pride myself on being in the front row when I was surrounded by girls who were on dance teams. It is to date one of my proudest accomplishments. I never had formal instruction in a dance studio past the age of eight, when I quit ballet after a fellow ballerina smashed my thumb in a car door. My enthusiasm carries me a long way on the dance floor, and I decided that it would carry me through this project as well. I procrastinated starting recording my movement with the excuse that I was waiting for inspiration.


This inspiration came for me one day when it was pouring rain outside. While living in Jackson Hole, I’ve learned that my mood is linked to the outdoors. In Durham, weather was separate from feeling most of the time. My happiness depended on those around me, although a sunny day did have the ability to make me more appreciative of the campus. It also deterred me from being as productive because I didn’t want to lock myself away in the library. My happiness was associated with seeing those that I loved, even when it was pouring rain. Now, joy is found outside.


The rain was foreign to me because it is usually too cold to rain. It meant that we were entering mud season. A season I had never experienced here. Frankly, I didn't think I was missing out on because the name didn’t sound too inviting. I decided to take my phone outside and press play and do the most cheesy thing I could possibly do: dance in the rain. 


I am not the type of person to create very cool visuals with my body. I lack basic flexibility. As I looked over the clips, I realized my moves were restricted to jumping and running around my porch and into the snow. I needed something to add to my video, so I decided to use my editing skills and the constant weather changes in jackson hole to create a more interesting art piece.

​I ended up spending more time editing this five minute video than doing anything else the entire weekend. I was ingrained in each video clip and much more engaged in this work than a recorded lecture. I started to experiment with different sounds and editing styles. Things I'm never able to engage in on a daily basis, especially for a school assignment. It makes me wonder why I struggle with choosing a major where my passion lies. The areas where I get the most excited about what I'm working on, no matter the amount of time it takes. I get so caught up in what is expected of me and what I should expect from myself, and try to convince myself that I should study what is viewed as most prestigious, instead of what would encourage me to learn the most. I shouldn't cut myself off from what brings me joy.


I've learned that I am much more creative than I give myself credit for. When I made this video, I was just having fun with it and didn’t expect others to find it very engaging. I keep artistic things for myself most of the time because I think that there's someone who can do it better than I can. It took my mom looking at my video, turning to me, and saying “this is good Claire” for me to realize that I created something special, even with my lack of rhythm.


I’ve always loved to compile videos together, but they have been videos of other people or trips that I’ve taken. I've never made a video where I am the main character or tried to make an artistic video until this video. I thought I looked ridiculous and forgot to give myself credit for being able to turn some hops and jumps into an artistic piece. When I presented my piece to the class, I was scared to see my classmates' reactions. I thought that it wouldn't compare to their dances. It didn't compare, but not because it was bad or embarrassing, but because I took a completely different stance than my classmates. In fact, no one's presentation was alike. 


I was so worried about what other people might think that I forgot to appreciate my own dance. It's unfortunate that it takes other people's approval to allow you to recognize that you're able to create something great. It takes others to give you creative confidence. It rarely comes from ourselves because we are our greatest critics.


In this class, we spoke about our individual brilliance and where our brilliance lies. I interpreted it as where I thought I had the most confidence, the things I knew that I was good at. But, maybe our brilliance doesn’t lie in the things that we think that we already have mastery in. Maybe our brilliance lies in the ability to make something out of what you thought was previously impossible. Our brilliance lies in places we didn’t even know existed.