Dance

Dance. According to Dictionary.com, “To move one’s feet or body, or both, rhythmically in a pattern of steps, especially to the accompaniment of music. To leap, skip, etc., as from excitement or emotion; move nimbly or quickly.” Also the subject of this first post in November on thankfulness.

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Image via Pinterest

Since college, I have learned something surprising about myself.

No, not that I am a serious introvert or that I dislike doing my own laundry or that I would be lost without a planner (though these things are true).

I have learned that I actually like to dance.

If you knew me in high school, this would shock you.

In high school, I put on extra eyeliner for school dances and bobbed along to the thumping Top 40 hits, but I lived by the mantra of “I can’t dance.” The aimless booty-shaking and ab-rolling confused me. How did they know what to do? Did they not feel idiotic? Why did they not look as awkward as I did?

It wasn’t always this way.

As a little kid, I took dance lessons along with basketball and piano and other pursuits I actually stuck with long-term.

In third grade, I had some sass. I also had some swanky dance pants, which made me the coolest eight year old ever.

Those bangs. That attached belt. Ah yes, elementary school

That attached belt. That pose. That shirt. Oh my.

Then came the preteen years, where I wore feathery purple headdresses and learned tap and jazz and ballet to “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “RESPECT” and beat out “fl-ap, opp, same, fl-ap, opp, same” with shiny tap shoes.

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Andrew, don’t kill me for this. Also, your bowl cut was precious.

In these stages of life, I didn’t know if I was a good dancer. I don’t think I cared. According to my mom, I was precise. That word about sums me up as an elementary schooler.

There was no need for precision at high school dances. I was a little lost.

Then I went to college and heard about swing dancing, where you learn actual moves with actual patterns. This put me back in my precision comfort zone and made me a little happier about dancing. (The jazzy music helped, too.)

And then last week came Nostalgia Night, the annual event for my dorm where each hall choreographs a dance. Cue self-consciousness and minor agony. RAs like me are supposed to lead these things, but this felt way out of my element. I can be athletic, but not in a graceful way (ie: running a straight line, posting up in basketball). I can be sassy in wordplay, not hip-rolling. I don’t mind talking in front of crowds (I’m going to be a teacher, after all), but I hate performing in front of them.

Preparation for this night was extensive. A wonderful friend choreographed five and a half minutes of groovy moves. I made four terrifying videos of me dancing all by myself. We practiced for hours in an end lounge. I pretended that knew what I was doing.

Then as I practiced our dance, faking confidence and really rehearsing enthusiasm, I realized something: when I wasn’t freaked out about forgetting the moves and looking like an idiot, dancing was actually fun.

So last week I put on a lot of teal eyeshadow and strapped a ribbon across my forehead and went out in front of our student center shook my groove thing. (P.S. Relax. That’s a song we danced to.)

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Too bad you don’t get full view of the eyeshadow. It was intense.

I don’t know if I looked good. (I am in blissful ignorance since I haven’t seen the recording yet.) I’m trying really hard not to care.

Regardless, I did have a ton fun.

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Of course I had fun! I got to dance with these rock stars!

So right now (even though it’s a week later) I am thankful for dance.

It’s reminding me that sometimes, I get so caught up in getting the moves right that I forget that life should not be a lockstep of emotionless calculation. Instead, it should be joyful and expressive. I might forget the moves. I might twirl left instead of right. But I can keep going. I can laugh a little and make stuff up. I can remember that enthusiasm and heart matter more than perfection and precision.

I’ve come a long way since high school dancing days. I might even think high school dances were great now.

But that’s probably taking things a little too far.

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