Last weekend, I went through an extremely challenging break up.
Feeling emotionally distraught, and having squeezed out every tear that I had access to, I decided to take myself out for a night on the town.
My plan? To sweat out some of the cumulative stress hormones coursing though my veins via one of my favourite pastimes—dancing.
So I went to a concert, an electronic show to be precise.
I went there solo and quickly found myself nodding my head along to the opening DJ. He was playing amazing music, some really heavy, bass-y stuff, the kind that makes your rib cage vibrate when both your fleet are planted on the floor.
There was only one problem.
Nobody was on the dance floor.
Over 300 people standing around the perimeter…and none of them were dancing.
After 30 seconds of going back and forth in my head I thought, “Screw it, the dance floor isn’t going to start itself. And I came here to have a fun night, regardless of how I currently feel.”
After an eight-second, deeply filling ocean breath, I stood up and marched out to the dance floor. It was one of the longest 20-foot walks I’ve ever taken.
My inner critic was spewing out vitriol a mile a minute.
“They’re totally all staring at me…”
“Don’t look now… all eyes are fixed on you and they’re ready to judge you as some kind of weirdo lone wolf…”
“You’re going to slip on someone’s spilled drink. You’re going to forget how to dance completely. You’re going to find some creative way to make a fool out of yourself and everyone will point and laugh at you.”
I replied to my inner critic, “Thank you for your opinion, but I came here to have a good time. And if any of those things do happen, it’ll make for a funny story…one day.”
I pressed on.
I proceeded to rip it up by myself for the next ten minutes (or 3.5 songs) by myself, and a funny thing happened…
After the first song, I forgot that it was just me out there.
By the end of the fourth song, people started to trickle in. Before long, the dance floor was flooded.
The truth is, everyone wanted to dance, they were all just waiting for someone to start it.
After three sweaty hours of dancing, while the headliner was playing, the opening DJ pushed his way through the crowd to come over and talk to me.
“Dude, you were the guy who got it going. Thanks so much man. I thought nobody was liking my mix but they just needed an excuse to get out there. I appreciate you brother!”
So what did I learn from my comfort zone stretching solo dance performance?
If everyone is waiting for someone else to go first—on the dance floor, in calling each other up to apologize, in saying “I love you” for the first time—then maybe we all just need to start going first more often.
Yes, going first takes courage. Yes, going first can feel vulnerable and scary. But it’s only when we decide to use our courage, instead of listening to our fear, that we grow.
So what about you?
Where are you holding back from going first in your life?
What courageous act could you engage in that would help you feel more free?
What metaphorical dance floor do you need to start cutting a rug on in your life?
Tell me about it in the comments below.
Author: Jordan Gray
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Marina Caprara/Flickr