I should probably start this post with a little bit of background information, for those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog. And even if you are, you may not necessarily know this about me unless you’ve met me in person. I’m an introvert. I don’t consider myself to be outgoing at all. For a long time I thought that was kinda weird, I felt different to everybody else. I’m quite shy and I often don’t speak up in a large group of people, usually because I believe my opinions and anecdotes are inferior to everybody else’s. I do have low self-esteem and I’ve never been particularly confident in my abilities to do, well, anything.
Like most people, I spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of me. Heck, I almost didn’t write this post because I thought ‘what if it makes me sound like a complete loser?’. But, as cliche as it sounds, isn’t life way too short to worry about what other people think of you? That’s one of the things I want to teach my daughter, to stay true to herself and not worry about what other people think. In order to do that, I have to lead by example.
I recently heard about a new weekly ‘group’, for lack of a better word, that had started meeting at my local community centre, called Dancejoy. The idea being, that you turn up and just dance for the fun of it. No instructor or anything like that. Just disco lights, happy tunes and like-minded people. Me? I love to dance. I’m not very good at it (oh, there I go again). But I love to dance.
Most mamas will know how hard it is to make ‘me time’ and I’m no exception. As much as I try to kid myself, tidying the house while Jasmine naps is NOT me time. Could Dancejoy be the answer I was looking for? The thing is, I don’t know many people around here, I don’t have anyone to go with. If I was going to go, I’d have to go by myself… and dance with strangers. Sober!
Wednesday evening rolled around and I filled up my water bottle, kissed my baby and fella goodbye and headed to the community centre. I’ll be honest, I felt physically sick. I thought about skipping the dance session and walking around our estate for an hour. I could go home and tell Stephen ‘Yeah, I had a great time’ and leave it at that. But I kept going.
Once I arrived, a little early, I bumped into two women who were stood outside the entrance. They were dressed head-to-toe in lycra and clutched nervously to their water bottles. It turned out they had gotten the wrong end of the stick. “It’s not a class, you know” one said to me. “I know” I replied. “There’s no instructor or anything.” “I know.”…. “and you’re still going to go in?!”
I thought about that question for a moment. Was I? Could I really go in there? By myself? And dance? With strangers?! “Yes, I’m going to go in… and you should too.” Now, not only was I sure that I did want to go in, I was also trying to talk two other people into going in too! Safety in numbers, I thought. Unfortunately, I couldn’t talk them round and they sloped off ‘for a run’ at the first opportunity. I was back to square one.
I took a deep breath, swung open the double doors and walked inside – the music already pounding. I took off my coat and put it to one side. In my head I was trying to work out how to go about making the change from looking like a rabbit-in-headlights to throwing disco shapes in the most inconspicuous way possible. I did what I always do whenever I’ve joined a new fitness class and I’m waiting for it to start, I drank about a litre of water from my bottle in about 15 seconds, in order to appear cool, calm and collected. “Yeah, look at me, just having a sip of water” *glug* “Totes relaxed.” *glug*. Eventually my inner-voice kicked in and did some straightalkin’. “Jenna, you can’t stand there drinking water all night, you came here to dance!” That b*tch be right. I did go there to dance.
I put down the bottle (at this point, regretting having not been clever enough to fill it with vodka) and walked to the centre of the hall. I then began to dance. With strangers. For the first few minutes I felt like I was going to collapse in a heap due to my self-consciousness. And then? That feeling stopped. I loosened up, both mentally and physically. I looked around the room and saw that everybody else was smiling and enjoying themselves. Nobody was judging anybody. They were just there to have fun and dance. Just like me.
The rest of that hour flew by as we all danced to songs from Elvis to Bruno Mars, without a care in the world. I left that hall grinning from ear-to-ear.
My point, and I do have one, is that I surprised myself. And you can too. We are all capable of doing things we think we cannot do. We are all so much braver than we think, you just have to give yourself the opportunities to prove it. We all deserve to have fun, in whatever shape or form that takes. Please make time for it, it’s important.
I may be an introvert. I may be shy and quiet. I may have self-esteem and confidence issues. But on Wednesday night, I went out by myself, and danced with strangers.