Happy Spring Quarter everyone! The beginning of the quarter is a great time for some self reflection and thought about the things that make us happy. We often feel torn between wanting to do things that make us happy, and trying to stay disciplined in our daily lives. While discipline is helpful, if we are constantly denying ourselves of the things that make us happy, we are in for some serious inner turmoil. Read on to hear about how Harsimran has learned to deal with this balance in her life.


by Harsimran Kaur


We all have our own happy places; however, I found mine in the one place I feared the most, a stage. For the majority of my high school – and my life – I was the quiet girl in the classroom. I dreaded classes that graded you on participation and presentations. I was the girl who smiled at you, but preferred to speak through my actions rather than words. Nonetheless, in my sophomore year I found myself standing backstage, waiting to perform in front of thousands of my peers. I was terrified. My mind was racing, regret and fear flooded my emotions and washed away my optimism, and I searched for a way out, yet, once I set foot on the stage, everything dissolved. My love for dance and I finally became one.

Growing up in a traditional Punjabi family, I wasn’t allowed to explore my interest in dance, because bhangra, a Punjabi dance, was not for girls. Today, this dance has become co-ed and is pursued by both men and women, but traditionally, women. On top of this, there was a pressure to have to choose between my religion and culture. I am a practicing Sikh, and for me, that is the lifestyle that I find the most peace and love in. Over the years as my dedication to Sikhism grew, I felt the pressure to fit an image of an ideal Sikh women, and this excluded dancing.

Overcoming this battle in my mind, I was finally letting myself embody the love for dance I had held inside my heart for as long as I could remember. Slowly, through dance, I was able to blossom as a person and open up in all parts of my life. I gained my voice in this world, and found another happy place of mine. However, when I started my freshman year at University of Santa Cruz, I moved away from my dance team and thought that I would no longer have this happy place. Because of cultural pressures, I felt that I had to let go of dance at one point, and college was the time of new beginnings, one that began with the death of dance in my life.

I believed that my dancing days had come to an end. I tried to fill in the gap with other activities. I occupied myself in painting, writing, DIY’s, and more. While I enjoyed these hobbies, I realized that bhangra just had its own place in my heart. For months, I stayed firm in my decision to live a dance-less live, but gradually it found its way back to me. During fall quarter, one of my friends within the dorms had expressed how they were hoping to audition for our school’s bhangra team, but needed help preparing. Since I had taught dance my senior year, I offered to help them learn the routine for auditions and before I knew it, I myself was auditioning for the team.

After months of refraining from indulging in dance, I felt the music move through me and I simply couldn’t contain my joy. For the weeks prior to auditions, life had hit me with some of its worst, and I felt myself grow lonelier by the day. However, dance found me in my dark place and helped me out step by step. Bhangra gave me a family to go to, and forced me to constantly spoil myself with new choreography and became my anchor. It gave me hope, when I had nothing and it became one of the happy places that I could find within any corner of this world. Listen to what your heart beats for, (not what others say) and you will see parts of your happy place wherever you go.