The start of a new school year always makes me smile. The smell of new school supplies (hooray for colorful boxes of crayons!), the nervousness that comes with unknown teachers, the excitement of starting up extracurricular activities and the joy of reconnecting with old friends. And while those days are behind most of us, school teaches us a lot of social lessons that can be applied to dancing.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Your first day is full of potential. You’re not sure what to expect, which is both exciting and terrifying.
- Initial Concerns: Will I have fun? Will I like my teacher? Will they like me?
- What We Learned: Dive right in, just like your 6 year old self did when moving from kindergarten to the first grade. You’ll make some friends (ballroom friends are friends for life), have fun, and learn a new skill in the process!
STARTING AT A NEW SCHOOL
When thrown into a new environment such as dance where we’re suddenly a small fish in a large pond, it’s easy to feel like a freshman in high school again.
- Initial Concerns: Will I figure out where everything is? What if I get lost? Will I look foolish? Will I ever excel? Will people like me?
- What We Learned: Stick with it. As experience has taught us all, sticking with it makes the whole process easier. Eventually we get comfortable and enjoy ourselves. Same is true with dancing.
GIVING A SPEECH
Whether you’re giving a speech, making a winning field goal, or performing a first dance at your wedding, getting up in front of others can be daunting.
- Initial Concerns: Do I have something in my teeth? Is my hair in order? Are there holes in my pants? (And hundreds of other questions related to appearance) Will I mess up? What will people think?
- What We Learned: The more we do something, the more muscle memory kicks in when we need it most. Same applies to dancing in front of others.
LOTS OF ACTIVITIES
When we were younger, we had school, homework, and extracurricular activities. Now we have work, family matters, and life vying for every spare minute.
- Initial Concerns: How will I juggle all of these activities? Where will I find time for a social life? Do I get any me time? Can I just take a breather?
- What We Learned: Make time. This seems a bit over-simplified, it’s true, but if we love something enough or deem it important, we make time. Going out on a date? You might have a slammed schedule, and yet you manage to squeeze that date in because it’s important to you. Squeezing in even one hour a week is all you need to have fun on the dance floor.
Dancing, be it in high school or at a dance school, can seem intimidating. We have to figure out how to move our bodies to music and then do it in a way that is socially acceptable/tolerable in the eyes of others.
- Concerns: Will I be part of the in-crowd? Will everyone be looking at me? Will I blend in? Will my date have fun? Do I look good?
- What We Learned: Show up. Most of our fears are in-between our two ears. While you may think that everyone is watching you and judging what you do, people are usually too busy having fun to worry about what you’re doing. So show up! You’ll be glad you did.
Much of what we learn as kids and young adults, being forced into a variety of uncomfortable situations, makes us into better people as we age. The more you apply the lessons from your youth to the present, the more comfortable and confident an individual you’ll be. So get out there. Give yourself permission to be in school again and see how much you love it!