Before I begin, I’d like to give props to Stefanie and her Valentine’s Day post that inspired me to write this one. I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, but I know the impact love can have on a person. Dancing is my passion for a reason. I love to move and melt into the music, but it’s much more than that. Primarily, I love to dance because of the fellowship I enjoy with other dancers that share my passion. Loving them while loving dance is one of the greatest joys in my life.
I used to watch “Dancing with the Stars” when I was younger. One of the most memorable moments of the show was the video documentary they showed when one of the celebrities was eliminated. They often said that learning to dance with their professional partner had changed their life, how they made a lifelong friend, etc. It pains me to say this, but I was quite cynical back then. I just thought they were acting and being sentimental just to increase their own popularity.
I’ve been dancing consistently for a year and a half now. I started dancing when I was fifteen, but life got in the way, and I had to quit. I began dancing again my senior year of high-school, and I haven’t stopped since. At first, I just viewed this as a hobby, something to break up the mundane pace of everyday life. As I got more experienced, the dancing got harder, but wonderful changes began to occur in my life. I kindly ask for the reader’s patience as I go on a personal tangent.
Those who know me personally would describe me as extremely extroverted. I can veritably talk your ears off given the opportunity, but that’s just small talk. I find that I struggle with being vulnerable with people. If I cry, I cry in private where no one can see or speak to me. I remember when my first teacher, Victor, left while I was on summer vacation with my family. When one of the instructors broke the news to me, I was heart-broken because I had studied with him for a little over half a year, but I felt like I had grown really close to him. I put on an understanding face, the instructor left, I walked into the bathroom, went into one of the stalls, and began to sob quietly so nobody would come in. Luckily, no one did. Along with vulnerability, I wrestle with anxiety as well, which I’ve been medicated for most of my life. I never thought that dancing would get me on the road toward healing.
I’ve mentioned my DP several times, but I’d like to give just a bit more information about him. His name is Nick. Like me, he’s very extroverted and goofy, but unlike me, he has this beautiful ability to trust and accept people at face value. He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met, and I wish I could be more like him. Like most, I’ve dealt with some rejection in my life, and the judgements hurt. When I met Nick, he took me under his wing and accepted me for who I was. It stunned me. Slowly but surely, the shield came down, and I invested more emotionally in my friendship and dancing. I’m also not the most physically affectionate person, and the prospect of physical contact scared me a bit. Dancing with my DP has changed that. He seemed to realize I was uncomfortable when we had to start dancing practically smooshed up against each other, so he took it nice and slow. Now, the aversion is all gone. Along the same lines, I don’t like to initiate hugs. If you hug me I’ll hug you back, but the feelings aren’t always reciprocated on my side. Nick has become the only person outside my close family and friends that I actually enjoy giving hugs to. I understand that it’s because of his wonderful personality and the fact that I trust him completely.
I’m not sure whether this goes along with the anxiety, but I also have trouble making eye contact with people. This has been a problem for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what it is, but looking someone in the eyes is very intimidating to me. This won’t do because eye contact is a sign of respect. One of the main criticisms of my speaking in my rhetoric class was, surprise, lack of eye contact. DP doesn’t know it, but he’s been helping me with this, too. When he’s teaching, I find myself putting in extra effort to try to focus my eyes so I can get that contact. The prospect of eye contact with Nick isn’t intimidating either.
You see, ballroom is so much more than dancing. It not only keeps me physically healthy, but it’s helping me maintain my mental and emotional health as well. Of course, it’s not the dancing itself, but the people I dance with. I may have focused on my DP, but all the instructors have that wonderful attitude that I so love. Being with them is like being with family, and family helps each other, even if they don’t know they’re doing it.