You know how people say to dance as if nobody’s watching when they’re trying to inspire you to include some amount of whimsy into your life? And at first you’re like, “No, absolutely not,” but then you reconsider, and suddenly you’re all, “Yeah. YEAH! Dance like nobody’s watching! I’ll dance whenever I want, in whatever way I want, regardless of people staring or taking pictures or laughing at me and not with me.” After all, life is about being yourself and feeling good about that, right?
I agree that life is about being yourself, but I feel best about myself when I’m not dancing in public. I am just so wildly embarrassed by dancing in front of anybody or with anybody. I’ve got like, two moves, and even then I feel like a tool while implementing them. Luckily (is it sad that I say ‘luckily’?), I don’t find myself in too many situations where dancing/public awkwardness is required, but then there are weddings.
There was a pretty big crowd at my friend’s wedding reception a few weeks ago. The music was blasting through the hall and the dance floor was hoppin’ (yep, I talk like I’m Richie Cunningham from Happy Days on a regular basis), but I wasn’t one of the partygoers out there busting moves. I was happy sitting at the table talking with other wedding guests.
The groom—a friend I’ve known since I was five—wasn’t likin’ it. He pulled me from the safety of my chair and led me to the floor where his parents and their friends were dancing to some Cee Lo Green song. He wanted me to have fun, so I tried to feel comfortable. I swayed a little bit, made small talk, wanted so badly to look as though I was having a good time when all I could think about was how silly I felt.
I returned to my seat at the end of the song, but less than a minute passed before the groom’s mom grabbed my wrist and guided me toward the dance floor again. I actually felt bad at that point because I didn’t want anybody to think I wasn’t having fun—I really was enjoying myself while mingling—yet both my friend and his mom had gone out of their way to get me to dance.
I operate at a pretty high level of self-awareness. I know nobody cares about my crappy dance moves as much as I do. And yet I couldn’t move past my discomfort, couldn’t just say, “Oh what the heck?” and go about dancing as if nobody was watching.
Soon enough, a slow song came on, and as I had RSVP’d as a party of one, I was able to sit the song out without feeling guilty. I watched as dozens of couples moved across the floor, not really seeming too concerned with dancing as much as just being with their dance partner. And then this thought smacked me across the face:
“I wouldn’t be so afraid if I had a boyfriend as my dance partner.”
It was one of those moments where you don’t how you really feel until you think it, if that makes any sense. I know I’d rather not be single (which I was reminded of earlier in the evening when, while seated at a table full of couples, a casual acquaintance turned to me and asked, “So where’s your boyfriend?”), but I didn’t realize all the situations in which I didn’t want to be single. It’s not so surprising that this thought would make its way to the forefront of my mind while at a wedding.
So maybe that’s love: finding the guy who makes you feel unafraid on an open dance floor. The person who makes you want to dance as if no one were watching—or, at least, makes you care very little about anybody else watching.
Megan S. is an associate editor at Dating & Hookup. She's a big fan of pop culture, comedy and essay collections (but just a regular fan of any sport that isn't softball or golf).
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
Follow Dating & Hookup on Instagram
Follow Jess on Instagram
Follow Becky on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter