“Always do the thing that scares you.”
Maybe I heard this quote in a movie. Or on a bumper sticker. Or in a fortune cookie. I’ve never been good at remembering sources of quotes. Which probably means I’m a bad history major. Oops.
Anyway, regardless of where I heard this quote, it really stuck with me. In many ways, I try to follow its advice. My affinity for backfliping off the flying trapeze into the swimming pool at Kamp and my desire to gallivant in non-English-speaking European countries are both prime examples of this. Overall, I consider myself to a gutsy, daring, chutzpa-filled person. Except in one instance.
Recreational dance class.
I know what you are probably thinking: why in the world is a girl majoring in history and German and minoring in Religious Studies take a Recreational Dance class? Well, back in the day when I was just a wee little prospective OSU student, I went on a campus tour. Before this tour, we watched a promotional video. And in this promotional video, a student talked about his recreational dance class. At that precise moment, I decided to take a recreational dance class. Now, four years later and in my final semester of college, I finally got around to doing it.
Here I should interject that I don’t have a fear of dancing. On the contrary, I’ve always had a certain fondness for it. When I was really young, my parents enrolled me in tap dance classes, and by fifth grade, I was in classes with the high school girls at my studio. And if music has any kind of distinct beat—especially the Europop or Techno variety (For a sample of the music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-Mwh3PL6h8)—I will most likely bust a move or at least be very tempted to. So dancing itself isn’t the issue. It’s the “social” aspect that, well, complicates things.
You see, I’m a girl. In “social dance” lingo, that means I’m a follower. So I, along with my fellow females, get to follow the leaders, i.e. the guys. In theory, this is incredibly simple; I shouldn’t even have to think about anything, since I just do what the guy leads me to do. Spinning? Sure! The pretzel? No problem! The Candlestick? You betcha!… In theory. As William Shakespeare said, “Aye, there’s the rub.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myJj0mNNe1Y&feature=related)
Unfortunately, for me dancing isn’t just a simple game of “Follow the Leader”. No, it’s “Follow the Leader” meets “Simon Says” set to a specific rhythm and minus the actual instructions. In other words, it’s complicated. For some girls (including most of my classmates), this is piece of cake. Easy as pie. Cool as a cucumber (I thought I’d toss in a healthy food idiom for good a change. Why are all our idioms about junk food?). But alas, for me, this following-to-music business is not so basic. Put simply, I stink at it.
BUT that’s okay. At least, I’m convincing myself that it is. Because no matter how bad I think I am now, I know for a fact that I was far worse before taking this class. So regardless of whether I manage to perfect the Candlestick or if I still get hopelessly twisted up during the Pretzel or fail to miss obvious cues from the leader about how he is going to spin me, it’s ultimately going to be okay. Why? Because I’m doing it.
Before I went to the first session at the beginning of the semester, I seriously contemplated dropping the class. I made lame excuses that my schedule was too busy and I wanted to have my late Monday and Wednesday afternoons free to do other things, but the truth was simple. I was scared. I knew I was a terrible dancer, and I knew I would likely have a hard time in the class, and quitting before I started seemed like an easy way out—an easy way out and a HUGE mistake.
You see, if I hadn’t taken dance, I would have cheated myself out of so much. I would never have learned the difference between the East Coast and Western Swing dances; I would have never figured out how to two-step without tripping over myself, and I would have never met the fun and amazing people who make my Mondays and Wednesdays so much brighter. But most importantly, I would have never realized that I can dance and that dancing is really, really, really fun. And that, in and of itself, would have been a borderline tragedy.
Comfort zones aren’t a bad thing; don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have a place where you feel safe and secure, where you know what you are capable of doing and doing well. However, the longer I live, the more I realize that it’s hard to grow and to learn within the climate-controlled, plush-lined, freshly scented confines of your comfort zone. It’s too, well, comfortable. True self-discovery, genuine adventure, and moreover real life awaits us on the outside. So don’t spend the rest of your life as a wallflower. Do the thing that most scares you and step onto that proverbial dance floor… Even if you have two left feet.