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DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and a ballet dancer, although I just started dancing seriously at 12. I have been in some shows and my teacher has started me on pointe work. It has become my dream to dance professionally.

When I confided it to my mother, she told me it would be impossible. I take two classes a week, but I will be taking more -- possibly five -- this year. Should I continue with my dream or pursue something else? I know it's a tough profession to work in, but it is what I love. -- DANCING FOR JOY IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR DANCING FOR JOY: A career in dance requires strength, determination, discipline and sacrifice. These are all traits that will serve you well regardless of what profession you decide to pursue when you're older. The person you should ask this question of is your ballet teacher, who is better able to evaluate your talent than I can at a distance.

But I urge you to stick with dance as long as it interests you. Even if you don't eventually become a performer, you could become a choreographer, a teacher or find a rewarding career in some other capacity with a dance company.

Now is not the time to give up on this dream.

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