Being Yourself

Carolyn Williamson - Dayton, Ohio
Entered on October 28, 2005
Carolyn Williamson
Age Group: Under 18
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

My mother has a unique way of embarrassing her children. Whenever she gets excited about something, she jumps up and down, hopping from one foot to another, waving her arms in the air and shrieking in excitement. We call this the “silly dance.” As her daughter, I find this completely mortifying. Anytime she goes into the silly dance, my siblings and I will inch slowly away, smile awkwardly, and explain to people, “No, she’s not my mother.”

Even though my mother embarrassed me to no end when I was a child, and even though she still does the silly dance when something goes her way, I now enjoy it. The silly dance is who she is, and it shows that she’s happy. If she didn’t do her dance and just obeyed our wishes of “not in public, Mom,” she would be compromising who she is.

My mother dances to her own beat, and many times that beat follows the works of Rogers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the Gershwins. Road trips in my family were always a fun time when we sang songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oklahoma, or West Side Story—the musicals that she grew up with.

I owe a lot of my love for the theater to my mother. I now sing show tunes in the shower and in the car. I even sing in public like my mother does, and my friends are always doing that same awkward smile and whispering under their breath, “Carolyn, public.”

So in many ways I’m becoming my mother, which for any daughter is a fear of great proportions, but I’m not going to stop singing show tunes just because people feel embarrassed by it—that’s not who I am. Although I can’t dance very well, when my favorite song comes on the convenience store speaker system, I boogie down the aisles mouthing the words. I have no doubt I will mortify my own children with my rendition of the “silly dance.” So what? That’s who I am.

I believe everyone should dance to the beat of her own drum, even if the guy next to you gives you a weird look. If that happens, I pick up a shampoo bottle in aisle seven, use it as a microphone, and continue my jam. I believe in the things that set us apart. I believe in mortifying our children so they will mortify theirs. I believe in being myself, no matter how many awkward smiles I get. I believe in never compromising who I am.

Although she originally wrote her essay as a high school student in Dayton, Ohio, Carolyn Williamson is currently a student at the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. She continues to write and plans to graduate in 2012 with a degree in communication studies with an emphasis in public advocacy.