Let me preface this with: I do not dance.
I’m part of a teachers’ dance group at school. Basically, we learn a routine to spoof the school’s real and very talented dance crew. We perform at pep assemblies, where everyone is heartily entertained.
I enjoy doing this for my school, but I’m already miles out of my element and uncomfortable. Add to this that the room where we rehearse has one wall made entirely of mirrors. Floor to ceiling mirrors. At the front of the room. So I get to watch myself being uncomfortable with myself. Awesome.
In the past, I have minimized this by avoiding looking at the mirrors whenever possible. Navigating a room — let alone a choreographed dance — without ever looking in the direction of forward is its own special skill, let me tell you. There’s forward-left, forward-right, forward-down, forward-shoulders-of-the-person-in-front-of-you, etc. There are many creative ways to avoid my own body.
Yesterday, we started another series of rehearsals, and I decided that I was going to look. Or at least, I wasn’t going to not look, if that makes sense. I wasn’t going to let my own self-consciousness keep me from placing my gaze in what would otherwise be its natural focus.
That was very much an act of courage and determination, though not on any grand scale. And yeah, aesthetically, I was not the most beautiful thing ever. I looked sweaty, my hair stuck out funny, and I was jerky and gangly and uncoordinated because it takes a while for me to commit dance movements (or any movements) to muscle memory, and I’m not there yet.
What surprised me most — even though I saw what I expected to see — was how okay I was with that. It wasn’t especially pretty, but it was me, being happy and doing something good. And somewhere along my life’s journey — somewhere in the not too distant past — I apparently started being able to love me under those circumstances. It is not an epiphany, and it is not necessarily even reliable or repeatable, but it is at least a little bit of heart opening.