Life's a dance
A few weeks ago, Gideon and I spent a weekend at a bed and breakfast in downtown Eureka Springs. I had asked Gideon to plan some surprises for my birthday and explained that I wanted the kind of surprise I could figure out before it happens.
Maybe that’s not how traditional surprises work, but I’m not very traditional. Growing up, I loved reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. There’s nothing like a good mystery to get me going. Once Gideon came to understand that, he made sleuthing much easier. All I had to do was log onto our shared bank account and there it was: a charge for a dance lesson.
Now, I have been asking Gideon to take dance classes with me for years. I remember suggesting it when we first started dating and he shrugged it off. A year or so later, he said he’d consider it. I figured it wasn’t his thing so I stopped pushing it. But all that time, he was listening. That was the best part of the surprise –– knowing how much thought he put into it.
Despite talking about taking a dance lesson for years, I freaked out when I saw the charge on our account. I briefly considered asking him to cancel it. I was afraid I would be too awkward or uncoordinated to learn basic steps. I’ve never been much of a dancer and I wasn’t sure if I could be. Fear of the unknown overwhelmed me.
“No, no, no,” I told myself. “You asked for this. it’s thoughtful. You better receive it with open arms.”
So I did. Even though every part of me was screaming to cancel it, I didn’t mention any of that to Gideon. I pushed through the anxiety as best as possible. Then Saturday came and it was time for our dance lesson. Walking up to the studio, I felt so nervous. What if I screwed everything up? What if people laughed at me?
Well, it turns out we had a private lesson in an empty studio. That was the first clue that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I had built it up to be in my head. We started out learning basic steps alone before coupling up and learning a slightly more advanced step. Our very patient instructor told us that dancing is all about shifting weight from one foot to the other and feeling the music. She taught us to lean on each other and tried to teach me to follow Gideon’s lead even though I had trouble letting go of control.
By the end of the lesson, I felt confident. It wasn’t the disaster I had thought it would be. It wasn’t a disaster at all. Gideon and I learned how to work together and communicate on the dance floor. We aren’t signing up for Dancing with the Stars any time soon, but I do think our general coordination improved.
And most importantly, I learned about the joy you get from leaving your comfort zone. If you don’t push yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. Sometimes people put us in boxes, assuming they know exactly who we are. Other times, we put ourselves in that box without even realizing it.
I’m so glad I stepped out of my box and I hope this column encourages all of you to do the same.