Opportunities to be brave can be found anywhere…even a country line dance
Jeanie Tillman is a dating coach who helps real-world Christian singles, in their 30’s and 40’s, break through fear that keeps them “off the dance floor” of love and genuine connection. Learn more at SingleHeartedPursuit.com.
My friends are getting together for another fun game night, but I find myself wanting to dance. It’s not because I don’t want to join in on the games; I’m just in a different mood —the “dancin’” mood.
I debate whether I want to show up to a country dance venue by myself on a Saturday night. I’d only ever gone with others, but I’m familiar with the location and crowd, don’t plan to drink (that’s not my thing), and know there will be a fun live band. Still, it all feels a little intimidating because I’m not awesome at country dancing — yet.
I’m not sure if it’s my adventurous or independent side that wins out, but I decide to go and treat the evening as a social experiment: Could I show up on a Saturday night alone, in a crowded public place with mostly groups of people, and still have a good time?
I arrive, walk inside, and immediately feel self-conscious. Then I reason with myself, “You have friends, nice friends that you like hanging out with. I’m not by myself because I don’t have friends. Besides, how many dudes show up alone and no one thinks twice about it? Do I buy that it’s more acceptable for males to show up alone than females (other than for safety reasons)? No. Forget that.”
With this mindset, I start the night.
I chat with people. I speak with a couple about how they developed their dance skills. I talk with a woman whose partner is on the dance floor. I enjoy the evening with others even if I didn’t bring my ‘crew’. As a line dance starts, I find myself wanting to jump in. It’s not a line dance I completely know (which doesn’t usually stop me when others are with me). Yet…I hesitate, bouncing back to the idea of “It’s weird to go out alone especially when I don’t fully know the dance.”
Then I think: “Jeanie, if a dude was here by himself and had the guts to go on the dance floor, partially blunder his way through AND not give a darn, would you think that guy was weird?” My answer: “No, I would think he was awesome for being that bold!” So, I decide to be myself and go dance because I want to and go be the person that I want to be. I end up joining in the line-dance. I catch on pretty fast, but regularly mess-up — and have fun anyways.
As I’m chatting with people after line dancing, I catch eyes with a guy a few feet away. He’s not-so-hard to look at and I get a nice-guy vibe from him. Do I have the courage to ask a guy to dance when I’m by myself? Apparently, I’m pushing this experiment thing to its limits. As I’m thinking about this, someone asks me to dance. When the dance comes to an end, I decide to go for it.
“Hey, wanna dance?” I ask as I approach the handsome stranger. “Uh, I don’t think so, but my friend Tom will dance with you,” he replies. Ouch!
A little rejection, but I accept his friend dance-offering and find Tom to be a fun and enthusiastic partner. Tom tells me that he and his friend, Brad (the guy that refused me), don’t know anyone there because they are driving cross-country and just stopping in on their way home. Tom and I dance together several times and chat between dances.
At one point, Tom tells me he wants me to help his friend, Brad, get over his fear of dancing. According to Tom, the last time Brad tried dancing, some older woman told him he was terrible and said he shouldn’t be on the dance floor. I think, OK, that sheds a little light on why he told me no.
Since Tom’s request to help Brad combines my love for facing fear and dancing with attractive guys, I selflessly agree to help (cough, cough). After some coaxing, we convince Brad to try dancing. Brad and I go over the steps off the dance floor and take it to the dance floor when he is feeling comfortable enough. Turns out he is no dancing expert, but he’s getting better and learning. More importantly, he’s facing his fear and should be proud.
It’s ironic (or is it?) that in the midst of stretching myself and facing my own fears, I have an opportunity to help someone else do the same.
After spending a couple hours intermittently dancing and talking with Tom and Brad, the evening is coming to a close for me. I enjoy hanging out with my new dance partners, but it’s late, and I’m wiped out from all my ‘social experimenting’, so I wish them a safe trip, give them a hug, and say goodbye.
Upon reflection, it was actually a very good night, probably one of the best dance nights I’ve had. Yet, the evening could have turned out much differently if I had allowed my initial thoughts to go unchallenged. At the beginning of the evening, I had to switch from thinking it’s weird coming alone,to I have friends, but I chose to come here alone, to stretch myself and this is normal.
I could have taken Brad’s refusal to dance with me as a personal rejection. Instead, I chose to believe that there are many reasons a person might not want to dance (or date) that have nothing to do with me. I was fortunate to have Tom confirm that it was indeed Brad’s past experiences keeping him off the dance floor — and not me.
What I learned that night was that on a deeper level, you can either allow thoughts of fear and insecurity paint your reality — or — you can choose to focus on truths and thoughts that support courage. And by courage, I mean doing more of what you want to do and being more of who you want to be (even if it’s a desire to go dancing when your friends aren’t available).
The dance experiment makes me think of Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, which talks about daring to be authentic (and vulnerable) and showing up as you are instead of focusing on reasons to hide (or be ashamed).
Showing up as yourself, or how you want to show up, can be daring. In fact, it can be the most daring thing you do.
Is there something you want to do or experience that seems too scary or uncomfortable? Sure, it feels safer not to expose yourself, yet what could you gain by being daring? Are you brave enough to choose to look at things in a different way?
Choosing to go solo for my country-dance-night gave me a chance to experience something in a new way and to learn deeper lessons. It also showed me that I can step out of my comfort zone, survive a degree of rejection/failure — and have fun!
So, in dating and in life, don’t let the fact that you aren’t (yet) great at dancing keep you off the dance floor…
You may also enjoy reading, Dancing Into Connection and Trust, by Nancy Levin