We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicole, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
I constantly tell myself and others, “Do what you wanna do.” It sounds silly and simple, but at the end of the day you always know what is best for you and what it is that you truly want. You have to listen to your intuition. Trust yourself. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where someone else is in control of your happiness. We all desire to be in charge of our own life. Life happens and we will never be fully in control of our destiny; however, there are certain things we CAN work on maintaining. Our happiness is one of those things. Even if you are depressed or going through a horrible time (and trust me I’ve been there), you can still opt to fight through it for your happiness. When it comes to decision making, we all need to learn to do what we wanna do and choose what brings us joy.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a freelance professional dancer which means I have the freedom to take whichever creative projects come my way. Previously, I danced for a great contemporary ballet company. I recently decided it was time to go out on my own. It was one of my “do what you wanna do” decisions. Since quitting the company, I have more time to focus on projects I really love. For example, I’m currently rehearsing to dance in a music video. I’m also expanding my horizons in the fitness world- teaching more Pilates classes and studying for my personal training certification. Dance is not for the faint of heart. It took many years of intense training to be where I am today. And you never stop training! You can always be better. All of that training comes with a lot of blisters and a lot of baggage. You have to be strong not only physically, but also mentally. The industry tells you what you should look like, how much you should weigh, whether you’re good enough etc. etc. Judgement becomes apart of your every day life.

I’ve felt the heat of that judgement outside of the studio as well. As a young teen, my parents had a somewhat public (and very dramatic) divorce that sent me into a downward spiral. A community was evaluating my family’s every move and I couldn’t handle it. My adolescence was extremely privileged in a lot of ways, but my home life was a wreck. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and insomnia due to the traumatic experiences I was put through. I wanted to quit everything and eventually I did. In college, my mental health forced me to take a step back and work through my wounds. I stopped dancing for almost a year. That year made me realize that I desperately need dance in my life and I can use it to help others. Movement heals. Finally, I feel like everything is coming together. There is purpose behind my pain. One of the best parts of my job is teaching younger dancers and mentoring them in their artistic journey. In the future, I hope to start a non-profit that uses dance to help women heal from abusive or traumatic experiences.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First and foremost, I would take them to Montrose because it’s the coolest neighborhood in Houston filled with diversity, great food, and fun times. Vibrant has great coffee and breakfast. While you’re on that coffee high you might as well shop around Westheimer Road’s thrift and antique stores. Cafe Brazil and Empire Care are great spots for lunch. If you need your hair done, you have to go to Cutloose. They keep my hair looking bomb. The museum district is a must. My favorite museums are The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Menil Collection, and the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Houston has some incredible museums. Dinner would be at Surya- the best Indian food in Houston or Riel- a yummy, eclectic bistro. Post dinner drinks would happen at Anvil. Some of my other favorite restaurants, bars, and stores throughout the Houston area include Space Montrose, Rosie Cannonball, Poison Girl, Hemline Heights, and Shake Shack. I’m a big Shake Shack girl, you can catch me there every other day munching on my cheese fries and Shack burger.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be here today without the endless efforts of so many people. My boyfriend Charlie- we are two opposites that fit perfectly together. Thank you for being my best friend and helping me manage my anxiety on the daily, I love you most. My family: my talented sister Claire- you are everything to me little sees, my incredible dad Ben- you are steadfast and wise, and my amazing mom Elliott- you are one of the smartest, strongest people I know. We have all been through a lot and I love y’all dearly. I am lucky enough to have two other rockstar families in my life- my sweet step family and my awesome Frizzell family. Thank y’all for everything, I always have a blast with you. All of my friends all over the world- y’all are truly the best support system and I love being with y’all! My main dance teachers over the years- Beth, Carolyn, Adrian, Austin, and Roxanne, thank you all for instilling technique and artistry in me. Last, but most certainly not least, my therapist Beth- you are an angel. Thank you for picking up all of my broken pieces and helping me put my life back together again.

Instagram: @nicolelliotty https://www.instagram.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3LZVs0_ovcKY11zFx9hrSg

Image Credits
Ashkan Image, Neil Gandhi, Marisol Miranda, Rachel Neville, Sally Villarreal

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