“She only dances with advanced dancers,” I think to myself. I don’t even bother looking her way, adamant about not letting anyone know about my desire which I am sure will not be fulfilled. There is no shortage to men who are eager to hold her in their arms. Her beauty is striking and she moves across the floor with the grace of a swan.
It is a unique experience for me. After all, I have been dancing as a follower for years and have gotten used to being the receiver of someone’s advances. To suddenly feel the other side of the coin, to be the one who has to initiate the invitation, to face the possible rejection...?
“Fish out of water.”
I don’t blame her for not wanting to dance with me. I have all of five moves up my sleeve even after years of working on my lead, and my experience leading is equivalent to kindergarten. So to avoid the certain rejection and embarrassment coming my way I don’t bother to look her way and casually walk off the floor for some air.
As I walk back up the stairs after my break I hear one of my all-time favorite songs. I pass her standing in the doorway and go to the bench to my right.
“God I want to dance this!” But there is nobody around, everyone is already dancing. Everyone except her.
Before I lose the little courage and recklessness that D’Arienzo’s song might have inspired in me, in an act of pure self-destruction, I walk over to catch her eye to invite her to dance.
“Oh my god I have been trying to dance with you forever!!” She exclaims with hurt in her eyes, voice shaking.
I am stunned, mouth ajar, I stand there for what seems like an eternity, paralyzed. The intensity of that moment, the depth of the gaze, the sudden stillness... it was transcendent, alchemical even.
“Do you want to dance... now?” I finally say with a spontaneous grin stretching across my face.
We take the embrace, my mind still racing from the dizzying turn of reality. She wants to dance with me? Despite my limited vocabulary and lack of experience?
The meaning of this shook me to the core as the self-imposed limiting beliefs that kept me from feeling good about myself as a dancer began to crumble. I danced like I had never danced before. Something fundamental had shifted as I confronted the fact that I could stop chasing after some utopian perfection and savor the dance that was already in my body.
After that experience I committed to not let fear and insecurity drive my decisions. If I am really nervous to ask someone to dance, I challenge myself to do it anyway. Frequently I get what I want, and sometimes I get rejected. But it really doesn’t matter. The reality is everyone has their own preferences, there are people who want to dance with me and those who do not. I think of it as a process of spontaneous curation, or chemical reactions. Some substances attract and others repel each other. So I’m grateful when I get rejected because I know that it has nothing to do with me being a good or bad dancer, it’s just chemistry.