Humans of Harker: Accept and improve

Aneesha Kumar takes leaps in personal growth through dance and cross country


Nicole Chen

“I think everyone has their own path and their own way of going through life, and I think that it is important that we all appreciate each other’s strengths and interests while developing our own,” Aneesha Kumar (12) said.

The lights go down in the theater, as the live musicians tune their instruments. Aneesha Kumar (12) waits anxiously in the wings, calming herself before the dance begins. As the singing starts, she steps onto the stage, the crisp sounds of the bells tied to Aneesha’s ankles echoing around the theater. A bright spotlight hits her, and any fear is erased.

At the age of 5, Aneesha was introduced to Bharatnatyam, a South Indian classical dance. As a generally reserved and introverted person, Aneesha feels that this art form has developed her self-confidence allowed her to grow from her fear of large crowds.

“I’ve never been that much of an outgoing person, so I think that doing dance has helped me step out of my shell in different ways. I think that my innate fear of public speaking has been there in a lot of aspects of my life,” Aneesha said. “I have always been really petrified of sitting in front of a group of people and talking. Doing dance. especially in our nation, which has public speaking incorporated in many ways, has helped me overcome this major hurdle in my life.

While becoming more comfortable in front of large crowds, Aneesha has also learned to improve from her mishaps.

“I learned to be ok with making mistakes, even on stage, because what is important is growing from that and understanding how to improve. I have learned to accept that I made a mistake and instead of putting myself down for it,” Aneesha said.

Through Bharatanatyam, Aneesha has learned more about Hindu culture. Aneesha’s dancing experience connects her to her family, especially her mother and grandmother. As a child, her mother also used to dance. Dance has given her family a common topic to discuss, specifically with her grandparents, who live in India.

“I think that’s definitely like I’ve learned a lot more and think about Indian cultures through dance because through like the stories and things like you learn more about the religion,” said Aneesha. “This has brought my family closer through a common topic because we don’t have much else in common, especially with my grandparents living so far away.”

Aneesha’s participation in cross country has also given her the opportunity to reach out and extend her personality to people outside of her family and close friends. She has been running since middle school and has run on the upper school varsity team since freshman year of high school.

“While a lot of people think that cross country is mostly an individual sport, my favorite part is going on really long runs with my team and being able to talk to each other about the most random things while doing an activity we all love,” Aneesha said.
Kelly Shen (12), Aneesha’s long time friend speaks to the immense thought and passion she puts into her relationships.

“Aneesha is an incredibly perceptive and thoughtful friend, and she’ll listen to everything I have to say with the utmost patience and compassion,” Kelly said. “Earlier this year, I once offhandedly mentioned to Aneesha that I wanted to explore more coffee shops, and she spent the second semester taking me to all her favorite coffee places, where we would spend time catching up and talking about random things.”

Aneesha’s calm demeanor and unparalleled work ethic propels her daily actions and activities. Whether it’s cross country, dance or school work, Aneesha’s immense commitment and organized approach to her life are the main proponents behind her success.

“Everyone has their own path and their own way of going through life and I think that it is important that we all appreciate each other’s strengths and interests while developing our own,” Aneesha said. “I believe it is important to have confidence in the path that you wish to pursue while valuing other people’s unique interests and individual choices because that leads to a beautifully diverse community.”