I have a long list of things I want to do in my life, but, I will confess, most of them are things that I am not comfortable doing. So over time, I have shortened the list again and again and again. It currently reads about five entries.
But that’s changing.
I’ve decided that it’s okay to enjoy the things I used to enjoy. Like dancing, for instance. I’ll confess- I am so that girl who dances in her room with the hairbrush. And in the kitchen. And in the car.
But never around people. I used to love dancing. I loved the feeling of getting on stage (even though I always had a terrible case of stage fright) and, for 2 minutes, dancing without a care in the world. On stage I could be anyone (and anything) I wanted to be. In the dance studio, the mirror was never haunting. It always reflected beauty, and I was always intrigued.
Something happened though. Over time the dancing was pushed to the wayside and discussions of bodies and beauty surfaced. Suddenly dance wasn’t about dancing at all; it was about “looking like a dancer”. It was about the latest diet or the best figure. It was about pleasing the eye instead of the passion.
So I quit. And with my resignation I left my passion for all things “dance”. I vowed to never pick it up again until I “looked like a dancer”. That never happened. My expectations of myself were too high. The expectations of “the look” were too high. The price of dancing was too high, so I bowed out.
Do I regret it? Yes. I think I would still enjoy it. I think I would still love the feeling of stepping into a costume and pretending-just for a moment- to be somebody else. The stage is welcoming in the fact that you can travel to a different time and place in a matter of minutes. You can wake up from an endless slumber, conquer the rat king, and dance the waltz along the trails in the forest green all before dinnertime.
No- I didn’t sign up for dance again. It’s not that I am scared to do it; I just know that it is not the time. Maybe some day I will dance again without caring about the calculating mirrors. Maybe I’ll be one of those snazzy grandmas that joins their granddaughters onstage ;). But for now, I am just remembering the things I used to love and why I stopped loving them in the first place. It’s like a resurrection, only nowhere near as glorious as the real deal.
As for today, it didn’t pan out as I thought it would. I brainstormed things I could do without caring about appearances: swim, take pictures of people (yes-that is a real fear!), make a complete fool of myself in public (I’m actually pretty good at this one already…). None of these things were what I needed though. What I needed was to do something new. What I needed to do was go after that one thing I want to do, but refuse to do because of what people will think.
So I drove to the Y and talked to somebody about volunteering for one of their young girl programs.
I know it sounds silly, but I was scared! The prospect of having to go inside, talk to a random assortment of people, and ask about volunteering was not the least bit appealing.
I did it anyway though. And I go back tomorrow to turn in the form. It’s something new, something challenging, but something I have wanted to do for a long time.
I have to admit, I find it completely ironic that the one thing holding me back from signing up to volunteer to help girls build self-esteem was “what I would look like”. So here is to not caring about what we look like. Do the things you want to do, no matter what anyone thinks (or what you presume they are thinking).