And never dance again.
Anyone who knows me knows how infatuated I am with (read: intimidated by) latin dance. One night I arrived to bachata class and the host told me that class was postponed an hour, but I was welcomed to go straight to the dance floor til then. I looked around for an empty seat to pass time. None.
As I looked at people on the dance floor, self-doubt crashed over me. I don't know anyone. I don’t have a partner. I didn’t get to practice beforehand. I’m just a beginner. Everyone here is so advanced. No one will wanna dance with me. What if I literally fall on my face?.. This was my worst nightmare.
I finally convinced myself to get out of my comfort zone and onto the dance floor. Then my biggest fear came true: I couldn’t always keep up with my dance partners. Many times I had no idea how to follow. I was embarrassed. I wanted to leave the club and go home. And never dance again.
But I noticed something. No one seemed to care whenever I messed up. They either taught me the move or just moved on to the next move. It turns out misstepping on the dance floor is normal for everyone. Even for professional dancers--they just keep moving anyway. In fact, I learned that people actually enjoy being able to teach a newcomer.
To my surprise, various people danced with me and helped teach me all night. It was the first time ever that I was comfortable enough to stay out all night dancing. I still have to continuously remind myself that only way to reach my goals is to not quit when I mess up.
For years my own perfectionism prevented me from improving as a dancer. I got so wrapped up in the goal--being a flawless dancer--that I completely undermined the process--learning to follow. Once I changed my mindset to appreciating the journey instead of the destination, dancing became more fun and less pressure-filled. I’m more patient when my partners are less experienced and more confident when my partners are professional. My confidence increased drastically because I no longer have the pressure of being perfect. And as a result, my skills are improving--not the other way around as I’d expected.
Since I've committed to going out dancing regularly, I've
Increased my self-confidence (both on and off the dance floor)
Been invited to private group lessons by professional instructors for free
Found a professional dance partner to train with
Been invited to co-led a beginners salsa group
It's funny to think that the things I thought I needed in order to get involved in the dance community are the things I gained as a result. Here's the thing: waiting until I was ready (read: perfect) prevented me from ever being ready. Sometimes the thing I’m waiting for in order to take action can only happen after I take action.
© taylordmills 2017
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