Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dancing without the Stars

Doing what you want with your life isn't strictly related to career only. Even in hobbies, we procrastinate, make excuses, and envy others doing what we want to do.

Season after season, I see people hopelessly salivating over the Dancing with the Stars, wishing they could somehow be a part of it, or at least that they could dance "like that." Yet, instead of finding a way to make it happen, they blog about it, post Facebook updates about it, and gossip about it at the water cooler, basically continuing their unsatisfying lives as usual. Every time I witness this, I go silently insane with rage.

It's not the gossip, though that drives me batty too. It's not a disagreement of opinion. It's my constant, nagging hatred of seeing people sit around and whine about what they wish they could do, and yet never lift a finger to bring it to reality. Doubtlessly, part of my hatred stems from seeing my former self in these people.

Presently, I have a very active social life, most of which revolves around dancing. I know where I can dance any day of the week. I can go to any dance club or studio and meet friends without even planning to. I've been on two dance performance teams. I've attended numerous weekend long workshops. I'm sketching out creative ways to move my career toward the world of dance.

Yet, a mere two years ago, I had almost no social life. I was one of these envious, lazy bums with my butt parked on the sofa, watching other people live out what I believed were my broken dreams. I became a Dancing with the Stars addict. I loved watching it so much that I would refuse interesting social engagements because I didn't want to miss a single minute of it. Yet, just like any other drug, as much as I loved it, it still made me feel a certain level of pain and disappointment with myself.

I'm not even certain what exactly bonked me on the head, but one day, I said to myself, "This is pretty messed up." That very day, I looked up dance studios, swing classes, salsa classes, ballet classes, and belly dance classes in my city. I posted to my Facebook asking if anyone knew anything about dancing or were interested in learning with me. I called friends and asked them the same thing. I practically told everyone I'd ever met that I was fishing.

It was a little rough at the start. I felt like I was too old to learn, too fat to be graceful, too poor to afford classes, too ugly to find a partner, and too uncoordinated to learn. Admittedly, starting can be tough. I felt out of place in the classes because everyone seemed to be better and more attractive than me. During the socials, few people would ask me to dance, so I worried that I wasn't good enough. There were many times I considered quitting because I didn't want to take any more hits to my self esteem.

It turns out everyone goes through that and, in the salsa world, it's referred to as "salsa hell." A lot of people are just uncomfortable asking people they don't know to dance. It's not that you're hideous and you totally suck. After you make dance a regular hobby, you become a familiar face and a good deal of those issues disappear. Sometimes my insecurities still haunt me, but I have yet to look back.

Whatever your fear, everyone started somewhere and everyone was just like you at some point. There is not a single valid excuse. You are not too old. You are not too fat. You are not too poor. You are not too ugly. You are not too uncoordinated. Dance is a world of true diversity. All shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, ages, sexual preferences and skill levels come together to create a beautiful, stylized version of age-old, ingrained human ritual.

No, you probably will not become a world class ballroom dancer, but you will be doing something other than sitting around watching people do things that you wish you were doing. Being a mere spectator is a waste of life, which we all know is painfully short. What's the use of having dreams if you always stay asleep?

Right now, this second you could be finding places to dance. You could be looking up videos on YouTube or renting DVDs from the library to learn to dance for free. You could be calling a friend and asking them to join you. You could be plastering your desires all over every social media outlet possible.

So, do it! Do it now! Don't even finish reading this. Drop whatever you're doing. There is no moment better than this one to change your life. Stop watching Dancing with the Stars and get up and dance!

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