I feel as though there can be so many life lessons learned from dance. I will get to them.
In the meantime, I want to tell you about the level of empowerment I have experienced by learning to utilize the phrase “ you like to dance?”
When I was little, you’d go to a dance, generally the girls waited to be asked to dance by the guys, and it was assumed the guy would lead. One perk of being quite young is I seemed to be in higher demand as far as getting asked to dance.
These days, In my dance community, particularly the Swing and Blues, it’s ambi-dance: everyone learns to lead and follow, everyone is encouraged to ask everyone to dance. Now on one hand, I do feel like this “lets the guys off the hook” so much that they may sit back and wait to be asked knowing that there are girls out there who will ask rather than have to push through their own barriers and ask, but either way, this leaves growth opportunities for me.
It has taken me a long time to really gain confidence in asking guys to dance. I’ve always been comfortable with my dance ability, especially as a follow, and yet going over and asking someone to dance would range anywhere from excruciating to mild nervous-making. I’d have to give myself a pep talk to ask someone a few feet away to dance. And my heavens! To walk all the way across the ROOM to ask someone!!! It’s such a long time and if you stare them down the whole time you’re walking over, it’s so intense like “I’m COMING for YOU!” Too much….too intentional, too “I’ve got my eyes on you!” But then there’s also the “oh you’re just asking because I’m nearby, convenient, and not dancing, not like you REALLY wanted to dance with me.” But generally guys don’t analyze quite so much so maybe that’s a sub-benefit…. In any case, overall I have become more consistently comfortable, confident, and able to do it, even when “I don’t wanna” and I think this has made me grow as a person. Even if I didn’t think so, logic tells me it is so because it’s definitely WAY out of my comfort zone, not quite into my danger zone, which means it’s in the growth zone. Also known as the miracle zone. And what happens there?! Personal progress!
So what benefits do I get from strapping on my big girl pants and walking over (picture the cowboy walk with legs akimbo, spurs tinkling, eyes a-starin, and a piece of wheat being grazed upon whilst hanging out of the mouth.) I suggest you picture with the reason that it amuses me and perhaps amuses you too, but that has nothing to do with how it looks when I walk over to ask…. But maybe that’s how I feel when I’m having a more confident day. I will say when I’ve concocted an essential oil mixture that helps with confidence etc, I’ve noticed a difference in my ability to do so with less inner tension. Ok so where was I going? What do I get from this?
1. I get to CHOOSE to dance at all, rather than sitting around like I’m a toy on a shelf, hoping someone will pick me to play with. I hop up and pick a playmate and get down and boogie! So I’ve now taken my enjoyment of the evening into my own hands. I don’t have to cross my fingers and sit there wishin, hopin, and prayin that someone will be mine….for that song….
2. I get to select WHO I want to dance with. Granted sometimes intimidation may get in the way at times of dancing with the dancers I really want to dance with, be they too dreamy, or too advanced dancers, so I may crumble and ask the ones that don’t fit that criteria, but either way I’m still dancing, and it is the best kind of workout I can get! And I’m still better off than if I just sat there waiting to be picked. Overcoming a comfort zone level….into the growth zone
3. Practice practice practice! As with so many things in life, it’s gotten better because I’ve kept on doing it. Even when I didn’t want to, even when it didn’t feel good. Even when it felt like the not wanting to outweighed the wanting to, or reward I’d get. As though I’d suffered from some kind of amnesia that caused me to forget just how wonderful the dance would be. But as soon as I hit the floor, it was all coming back to me now. Sometimes now I just go and ask and hardly even think about it. It is less like torture and more like swiping my card at the gas station. I want gas, swiping the card is a neutral behavior to obtain that which I desire.
It’s also helped me out at church dances, where most things are traditional but too many guys are scared to ask girls, so they take 3/4th of the dance to work up their nerve and then there are only a couple couple’s dance songs left anyway… So even though that community may not be used to everyone asking everyone to dance, that just makes me seem like a confident glittery unicorn coming out of the woodwork! Even more points for me! I got to practice it where it’s the standard on the playground, and now utilize that skill where it holds even more weight! Game. Set. Match!
I don’t think I knew exactly the satisfaction I’d one day have from tackling the asking piece. But it sure does help me empathize with guys asking girls out or asking for many things we want from various sources. Dealing with the “no thank you” rejection is its own animal to deal with. Maybe I’ll cover that some other day. Sometimes I notice how for most of the songs I dance, I’m the one asking….and that happens with more frequency than me being asked to dance… if I wasn’t careful about being sure to be positive I could go down a dark road of thinking not that many people want to ask me and that’s why I have to do so much asking or I won’t dance. But I think I’ll take the more positive option and just say I’m asking more than I’m getting asked, because hello…. They only have so many opportunities available to ask when I haven’t asked someone myself…I’m the driver of my own life, and there are only so many pit stops I make for someone to have the chance to ask for a ride!