I have birthed dancers.
Yes I have.
All the kids have taken dance through the years and one has actually ended up being a professional dancer and teacher. Last year, Mike and I sat through what I think was our 18th year of dance recitals.
So, yes, I birth dancers.
But I cannot dance.
I mean, not in an Elaine Benes a la Jerry Seinfeld Lack of Self Awareness I Can’t Dance Kind of Way. Oh no. I’m quite self aware on this topic.
Hi. My name is Julie and I can’t dance.
I wasn’t raised dancing, never took classes and had limited experience at school dances, of which the dancing involved seemed to involve either standing around the walls of the gymnasium staring at other wallflower members of the opposite sex or being navigated on the dance floor for a slow dance which involved more general standing relatively still while shuffling feet to said slow song. Not exactly Footloose. At all.
I sang with a country band back in the day and learned to two step in the big warehouse in which we performed every Friday night. Mike and I loved learning the various steps and turns.
But that’s as far as a I got.
Texas Two Stepping.
Fast forward a couple of decades plus and eight kids later.
One of those dancing kids I birthed is now an adult and is teaching dance classes.
I signed up for her adult contemporary class.
I’m hilarious. That’s the only word for me. Hilarious.
I’m taking the class with three of my friends, all of whom are dancers. Which makes me look even more hilarious.
When I signed up for the class, I thought, “Well, how many people can possibly be in the class? I can’t embarrass myself too badly, right?”
I should have never underestimated My Daughter the Dance Teacher’s popularity. The class is packed. With some really good dancers.
And there’s this.
I don’t think of myself as all that tall. But I look like a complete giraffe in this class, long bird legs flailing and all.
When I’m not confused and going the wrong direction, I’m giggling at myself. A lot. And I’ve given everyone permission to laugh along with me.
And I’m awkward. I’m very self conscious. I’m sometimes quite embarrassed.
Which is a very good thing.
As adults, we can often tend to shelter ourselves from that which makes us uncomfortable, that which takes us off familiar paths. Our lives are complex enough without adding experiences that can make us feel artless and blundering.
After all, isn’t that exactly what junior high was for?
I like doing the things that I’m good at, the things I’ve developed a certain level of mastery for. It makes me feel good, makes me feel like I’m operating in the center of my identity.
Trying something new, trying something hard, trying something I’m not good at is so very, very good for me. It takes me to a place of humble learning, of connecting again with the feelings of being slightly out of the loop, building fresh compassion, fresh insight, fresh vulnerability.
I’m all the time pushing my kids to try new things, to venture into new arenas, to push themselves to discover more of where their gifts lie…and where they do not. And those invaluable lessons can only be learned by taking a deep breath, signing up for the class or the workshop or the training, opening the door and walking through.
It still applies to us as adults as well.
I’m doing it. I’m dancing. Not with grace, not with skill, not with abandon.
But I’m doing it.
And I’m learning.
And I’m awkward and odd and slightly embarrassed.
I’m doing it.
Even though it makes my hips look big.
Try. Try something new. Try on some awkward. And let the accomplishment be that you are brave enough to try.