My Own Personal Form of Carpe Diem
I don’t know the exact definition of a phobia, but if it’s something that elicits a combination of shaking, sweating, and crying that is so strong it threatens to crescendo into a full on panic attack, then yes, I have to admit that dancing was my phobia.
An innate lack of rhythm and a general shyness that emerged during my teen years kept me from participating in any activities that might have led to my having to “bust a move.” I never tried out for a musical, I didn’t attend any school dances, and I felt my time was better spent talking with friends at coffee shops instead of going to drunken high school parties where the “dancing” appeared to simply be the initial steps of a disturbing mating ritual. For years it just wasn’t a part of my life. Therefore, when it came time for senior prom, I, having avoided all previous dances, decided to attend. It was there at my first official test that I realized how emotionally crippling my fear of dancing had become. Though comfortably surrounded by friends, after my first failure to successfully “drop it like it’s hot,” I felt a suffocating shame, an acute self-consciousness, and an unfair jealousy and hatred for those who could do what I felt I could not. Therefore, my prom was spent watching people from the sidelines, taking repeated trips to the bathroom(as if my reason for not dancing was simply due to a tiny bladder), and trying to quell the tears that would arrive as I grew more frustrated with myself for not being strong enough to overcome my fear and simply have fun.
This would happen repeatedly over the next few years: the university’s homecomings, winter formals, frat parties, concerts. All yielding the same result; the continuation of the vicious cycle of irrational fear based on self condemnation that stemmed from self doubt which in turn gave birth to further self condemnation.
But, halfway through my sophomore year, things began to change. I branched out and met a new group of friends, helping make my unfamiliar college town feel a bit more my own. One night I was talked into attending a party dj-ed by one of my newfound friends. I stood in the dark corner, watching others, preparing for the usual rush of pity I typically felt for myself in such circumstances. Instead I found myself tapping my foot to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” Soon I realized I was swaying to “99 Red Balloons.” And then it finally struck me…I wanted to dance. It was time to stop getting in the way of myself, and that crowded darkened room was just the place to do it. It was about making the decision and then not thinking, not worrying. No one else was judging me, why should I judge myself?
I would like to say it was as simple as that, that my epiphany led to an immediate personal overhaul of my social insecurities. Instead it was a struggle that would take time, but, as I threw myself into the dancing crowd and began to jump along to “Come on Eileen,” I knew it would be worth it. Each party after that, I forced myself onto the dance floor and felt more of myself come to the surface and more of my insecurities slip away. I had found my own personal form of carpe diem. I found myself in that music and in seizing that day through that one tiny action, and in forcing myself to seize each following day, I seized a new me.
I believe in finding your own personal carpe diem.
I believe in letting yourself go.
I believe in dancing.
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