Last weekend, I had the honor of attending my very first “Survivor Party.” One year ago, a member of my church family was diagnosed with brain cancer and this year, his request was to gather all of his friends and family to eat, sing, dance, and get our “happy on” to celebrate life.
And celebrate, we did! We all had dinner together and chatted, then the lights dimmed, the DJs got the music pumping, and everyone hit the dance floor.
This was the first time ever that I have just completely let go and danced. I went thought the middle school dancing phase. You know, the arms fully extended, hands on my partners shoulders, and the step-right, step-left. Then the high school phase with the exact same move, but my elbows bent a little bit to at least move into the same time zone as my dancing partner (and I think I even remember resting my head on someone’s shoulder once…big move for me!). And then came all of the friends’ weddings where I skillfully avoided dancing almost entirely, because I was so afraid of looking like a flailing lunatic in front of other people.
I don’t remember when it started. Maybe it was after the first time somebody called me fat. Maybe it was just something that started one day as a passing thought that stuck and grew bigger and out of control. Either way, I spent years developing this fear of other people’s judgement that kept me trapped inside this little tiny self-made box. I thought if I followed certain rules (like not dancing) and conformed to everybody’s expectations, then I could fly safely under the radar, not drawing any negative attention to myself.
#1 – It didn’t work.
#2 – It was a terribly boring, dry, joyless existence.
#3 – And, oh yeah, that’s unattainable. I will never be able to meet everybody else’s expectations.
But this time? I wore a red party dress (and mascara!). I kicked off my shoes and cut the rug all. night. long. I was surrounded by people I love (and quite a few strangers thrown in the mix), but I have finally come to a place where I am much more concerned with capturing joy and living fully than wasting my energy assuming that everyone in the room is judging my dance moves. Even when we were all pulling off some seriously amazing moves channeled from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (as pictured below), it was all about laughing. Connecting. Living.
And it was so much fun! There were a handful of us in the room that all have Fitbits and participate in “Workweek Hustle” challenges with each other and we kept huddling up throughout the night exclaiming, “Can you believe how many steps we’re getting?!” Normally, we all work pretty hard to hit 10,000 everyday, but that night, without even trying, I hit over 25,000.
The best kind of workout is the one that doesn’t feel like a workout at all. I wasn’t at the gym. I wasn’t running. It wasn’t a scheduled or structured session. I was just spending an incredible night moving around with my friends, celebrating life, and torching mad calories all the while.
We decided we just need to hire a DJ and have a dance party every weekend.
I wish I could go back to all of the weddings I spent sitting at tables, holding up the wall, and escaping to the bathroom when people were trying to pull everyone out onto the dance floor. I hate to think of how much joy my insecurities held me back from experiencing. But, from now on, I’m going to dance like nobody’s watching. There is far too much life to be living to waste it sitting on the sidelines.