Lifestyle

‘Some would say I’m lucky, I say I’m persistent’

I feel blessed to have the family I do. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My parents believed in me every step of the way throughout my career and did whatever it took to get me to the top — likewise with my older brothers who are very successful in their fields of work. My parents gave us every possible tool to be successful which I feel lucky to be able to say. Not only did I make sacrifices but they did too. They have always been my rocks and I would be lost without them.

From a very young age, I knew I was going to be a dancer. I started dancing at the age of three. Ballroom, ballet and Latin all in the one week. It’s safe to say I was born to be a dancer. I feel very lucky to have made my love my job but I have worked hard for it.

The greatest challenge I have faced is overcoming setbacks. Through my years in dance I have sacrificed a lot. I moved to Italy for five years — leaving my family, friends and stability behind. I trained for hours every day but, like in any sport, results don’t always go the way you want. The most important thing is to pick yourself back up and to come back stronger than before.

My proudest moment was when I won the World Open Championship in 2018. Standing on the podium with the Irish flag being raised and the National anthem playing was an emotion I dreamt of. Every wish I had came true in that moment; every sacrifice was worthwhile.

My earliest memory is my parents bringing me to see the Christmas windows in Clearys and Brown Thomas followed by a visit to Santa in Arnotts. We had to go to Arnotts because that’s where the real Santa with the real beard was. I think every child in Dublin did this at one point. I’ll never forget the moving characters and the glam, I just thought it was the most magical thing I’ve ever seen. I was around a year and half old and we did it every single year. That’s when my love for Christmas began and I would say now I’m a bit of a Christmas fanatic.

My best quality is my mental strength. I have faced a lot of challenges and didn’t always see success. With the ups, I had to take the downs and when I say there were many, there were a lot. That made me what I like to call a tough cookie. I try not to focus on negativity and I see the good in every situation. I know it’s not always possible but that’s what gets me through hard times. 

I always believe in myself, my strength and know that no matter what challenge I’m faced with, I can take it on, use my determination to do my best and turn it into a positive.

The lesson I would like to pass on is one my Mam taught me — there is nothing you can’t do, if you really want to do it. I kept this quote in my head at the times I was told I couldn’t do it. In school, I was told I was ridiculous for wanting to be a dancer: “there’s no career in that”. I think many people have experienced that going through school in Ireland in different ways… belittled and made feel stupid for having different dreams than others. Many I know listened and didn’t pursue their dreams but I’m proof that that teacher was wrong. I didn’t let that influence me. I kept this quote in my head and because of it, I now do what I love for my job. Some would say I’m lucky but I say I’m persistent. I knew what I wanted and wouldn’t stop until I got it.

The best advice I have ever been given is never be afraid to be different. It’s easy to copy others and follow the crowd but it’s the ones who are prepared to be original and different who create greatness. My coach once said “If you copy something or someone you’ll be nothing but a bad copy. There is only one you, so look inside and show me who you really are. Be unique and do it your way” and that’s how I did it.

It surprises me that in Ireland in 2021 there are not more women in leadership roles, given that we make up 50% of the population. I believe men and women have different qualities and strengths. How can we have an equal and progressive Ireland if half of the population isn’t represented? How can we have a full-rounded view on important matters when women’s voices aren’t being heard from higher positions? We need diversity and need change sooner rather than later.

I used to be afraid of fire. When I was younger I witnessed a terrible accident that involved fire and since then I was really terrified of it. I recently faced my fear during one of the challenges on Ultimate Hell Week where we had to rescue two dummies from a burning building within 15 minutes. I knew I had no choice and went and did it. Now, I honestly feel I’ve conquered it.

If I had taken a different fork in the road, I would have been a fashion designer. I’ve always had a love of fashion. When I doodle it’s always dresses or something to do with fashion.

  • Laura Nolan is a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars Ireland which airs Sunday at 6:30pm on RTÉ One.

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