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Embracing Change: From Dance to Maths – Abby Hodgkiss

Hi lovely people! My name is Abby, I am a 3rd year Pure Maths major (I know, scary!) in a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at the University of Adelaide. I am also the Mathematics officer for WISTEMS in 2023, and I, like many others, enjoy a life outside of uni, career trajectories and have multiple passions! I mention this as I would like to share a bit about my curvy journey into my current degree, and provide some hopefully comforting, or inspiring words and messages about breaking down the ‘end goal’, ‘specialist’ mindset that a lot of people feel they have to conform to as they approach the end of their schooling and make a decision about what to do next, or in any phase of life, really. 

Living in Port Lincoln throughout my high school life, I was a high achiever and excessive people pleaser with a huge passion for dancing. I have always loved to dance (my favourite style is commercial jazz) and all I really wanted to do was move from Port Lincoln, meet like minded people who loved dance as much as I did and become a professional dancer. Due to my consistent high grades in school, I was told by all of the adults in my life I could do anything I wanted, which of course meant academics, and was always told I needed a plan B from my dreams of dancing. I feel people, especially the older generation who try to guide us, are so focused on finding a consistent, safe job so you have a stable income and can buy a house. What is all the hype about owning a house?!

Abby at her Year 12 dance performance
My Year 12 dance performance

Although I enjoyed maths in school, I was completely burnt out after studying Maths Methods in year 11, and never ended up taking Specialist Maths in year 12. 2 weeks after I turned 18, I moved to Sydney all by myself and completed a Diploma of Dance at Brent Street where I danced 6 hours per day for a whole year! It was incredible, terrifying and everything in between. Although working as a dancer was always my dream, my time spent dancing in Sydney taught me a lot about the industry I wanted to be a part of, and I knew I was not the type of person to ever fit that mold. In the end, I decided I really did miss my academic side, I was content with leaving that dance chapter behind, and I came back to SA to begin university.

Abby in front of the Brent Street building.
My first time at Brent Street

This brings me to the main point of my story; it is ok to admit when something is no longer filling you up or right for you, and choosing to move on. You did not give up, you are not a quitter. You do not have to continue on with something in your life that does not bring you joy anymore. There is so much strength and bravery in making those big choices for yourself, despite what others may think. And it is completely ok to take time apart from things you are passionate about to avoid burning out, or realizing down the track that you want to go back to something you previously left. You do not have to be a slave to one thing for your whole life in order to be successful. Just do whatever you want to do with your life right now, and be ok with allowing your preferences to shift over time.

“It is ok to admit when something is no longer filling you up or right for you, and choosing to move on.”

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between things you are really passionate about, and things that others applaud you for, and make you think it’s ‘your thing’. Don’t push yourself to figure all of this out so quickly. As you move through life, you will uncover what truly aligns with you and become more ‘you’ each day. You can always change degrees, change jobs, change hobbies, change relationships. Even if people invested in you or supported you through something, you do not owe it to them to ‘stick it out’, it’s your life.

By no means am I, or probably anyone, at a point in my life where I am happy every day in what I do. Things are rarely easy or comfortable, but there is a passion in what I learn that sits beneath everything I do each day, which keeps me going. There is a difference between pushing through struggles to fight for what you really want, and having no spark or will to continue on your current path. Fight for what matters to you right now, and let go of what doesn’t. Be brave, be you.

Presenting my summer research project 2022-23 in pure maths

About Abby

Abby (she/her) is a 3rd year Pure Maths major in a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at the University of Adelaide, and the Mathematics officer for WISTEMS in 2023. Abby loves to dance, be crafty and spend quality time with friends, and always loves a good iced mocha.