So You Think You Can’t Dance

Dancing: it’s really never been my thing. I can swing my limbs
around as much as I want, but I guess that doesn’t really count. During those
awkward middle and high school dances, I was a really big fan of fist pumping,
jumping up and down and line dances (mainly because I didn’t have to make up
the moves). I also thoroughly enjoy “dancing” ALONE in my dorm room
when my roommate isn’t there to witness it. In any case, showing the public my
“moves” just isn’t something I like to do…ever
Recently, I had the absolutely incredible opportunity to travel to
South Africa for the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers. There
were about 75 of us state officers, all hailing from various parts of the
United States. The fantastic part about traveling with these 74 people was that
we all are weirdoes. Not kidding. It’s great. You never get judged for how
weird you truly are because everyone understands. It was a mutual thing.
Anyway, these people were all amazing human beings, and I miss all of them like
crazy. 
While in South Africa, we traveled to many different farms to
witness the varying agricultural practices, immersed ourselves in the culture
and ultimately learned a lot. There was one day where we traveled to Soweto
(Southwestern Township) to tour the community and its attractions. We first
stopped to eat lunch at Chez Alina Restaurant. This restaurant is locally
owned, and it boasts some pretty tasty food.
As our meal was winding down, we began to slowly make our way
outside to play with some adorable little children. When everyone had made it
outside, three street dancers stood in the middle of the street, and
began performing for all of us. A couple of little dancers joined throughout
the performance as well. Two drummers provided the beat, and suddenly, the
energy increased. All of us bystanders stood
cheering and clapping. I stood towards the front of the group tapping my foot
along with the beat. One of the dancers broke away from his fellow dancing
partners and began to walk in my general direction. Realizing what was about to
happen, a million different thoughts raced through my mind.
“Oh my dear
Lord. Avoid eye contact. Someone from this group is going to have to dance with
him. Please pick anyone else but me. Oh no. He’s getting closer. Please not me,
not me, not me, not me…”
The
dancer then extended his hand, inviting me to join the performance. I grabbed
his hand, and he led me to the stage (the street).
“I am going to have to
dance in front of all of these people. These dancers are extremely talented,
and all I know how to do is the Cupid Shuffle. Alright, you’re going to have to
summon all of the confidence you can and do this.”
My
adrenaline was pumping as I tried to mimic the dancers movements.
“Ok, this isn’t so bad.
This is fun. No one is booing me. You can do this. Just watch what he’s doing.
Keep moving.”
After
a series of movements, the dancer squatted to the ground and invited me to try
it out for myself. Not being quite ready yet, I asked if he could show me a few
more moves. He agreed, and we began the process again.
“Dude. This is a blast.
You should dance like this all of the time!”
He
then squatted down for a second time, and I knew that I would be performing all
by myself. I bowed my head, giving myself just another second to breathe and
gather my confidence, and jumped up with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
I tried to copy as many moves as my dancing partner had shown me, while also
trying to do it halfway decently.
“Move your hands. Move
your legs. Kick. Sit down when you’re done.”
After
finishing my little routine, I sat down on the ground, and looked at my
partner. He had a toothy grin on his face, and that was all I needed. He shook
my hand, and I retreated back to the group with the same toothy grin on my
face. Another group member, Sydney from Ohio, had the chance to dance with them
as well. I could tell by the look on her face that she loved it too.
After
some “cool down” and “reflection” time, I realized one key lesson that I
learned from this dancing experience. Even though I was terrified, I stepped,
or rather danced out of my comfort zone. If I declined his outstretched hand, I
would not have the memory from that day that I do. I felt confident and joyful
in those brief moments. Those are the moments that I will cherish forever.

                           I hope you can seize those moments that require you to step,
skip, dance, hop, jump, fly, etc. out of your comfort zone. You may be unsure
at first, but once you find the joy, you can fully immerse yourself in the
moment. Your comfort zone can always use a little work. J