My Moment Of Truth

By Caroline V. Clarke, Wynton Marsalis by Sonja D. Brown

waiting for someone to tell me what to do — like they always had. And they did. But a wonderful friend sat me down one day and made me realize that I wasn’t happy doing those things. At home alone that night, I finally realized, this is my life and I need to pave my own path. I also came to the realization that the key to failure is trying to please everyone. I needed to figure out for myself what Dominique loves to do, wants to do, and is really good at. That was the beginning of my changing the way I thought about my life.”

It also sparked a change in her approach to opportunity. “Something would come up and I’d force myself to stop and ask myself, ‘What is this going to do for me? What are the pros and cons of it for me, not for other people?’ I did a great deal of praying, soul searching, and writing. And it took about two years to really change the way I thought and accept that I do have likes and dislikes, and dreams and goals that don’t match up with other people’s.”

Now 26, Dawes does a lot of motivational speaking targeting youth. She would like to do more local and international broadcasting, sports commentary in particular. She’d also like to be a spokesperson for self-esteem and health-related issues for kids. Dawes has recently begun coaching gymnastics privately at Hill’s Gymnastics in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the gym in which she grew up training, owned by Kelli Hill, the man who coached her from the time she was 6. “When I finally retired (in 2000) — from gymnastics and from living for other people — I felt like I had a 1,000 pound weight lifted off me,” she says. “That’s how I feel now — like I have been totally freed! I’m free to do what I like, and what I want. This is the life that I want.”

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