8 Things I’ve Learned from Dance

dance-1138553_1920It’s been about a year since I first stepped into the dance studio. I was an awkward beginner with little dance experience. Since then I’ve developed into a slightly less awkward dancer with slightly more experience. It’s been a journey full of sweat, hard work, and sore muscles. But there have been so many positive things too. I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from taking ballroom and latin dance classes.

1. Embrace the process
Learning anything new is hard. You’re put through situations that aren’t mentally or physically comfortable. But don’t fight it. When you accept the discomfort it doesn’t necessarily make it easier. But you can see how each step contributes to making you better. It’s all leading to self-improvement.

2. Making mistakes is okay (and normal)
With dance, you’re learning to move your body in completely foreign ways. You will eventually mess up your footwork or step on some toes. Mistakes are a normal part of any learning process. So try not to get too frustrated. The only difference between you now, and what you can become, is time and experience.

3. The value of discipline
It’s not easy to show up each week and put in the work. It takes sacrifice and dedication. You might not feel like going. I usually don’t, even though I love to dance. This creates positive habits and contributes to building the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

4. Increased social skills
Partner dance provides an excellent opportunity for social interaction. Firstly, dancing is a great icebreaker. Secondly, both of you are interested in dance, so you can skip the small talk and jump straight into an animated conversation about your favourite dance style. This is especially great for an introvert who loathes small talk.

5. More confidence
I used to walk with a slouch, trying to take up as little space as possible. But over the past year, I’ve noticed that I’ve straightened up, and not just when I dance. I feel surer of myself and am more likely to contribute to group conversations. And I’m excited for the continued growth.

6. How to push out of the comfort zone
Taking my first step into the dance studio was nerve-wracking. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know if I’d have a partner. I was afraid that I’d mess up and look dumb. But we’re capable of so much more than we think. Taking that first step, regardless of how hard it was, was totally worth it. I’ve made new friends and learned a lot. The positive feedback has encouraged me to push myself even more.

7. The importance of self-care
Dancing uses a lot of muscles you don’t normally use. As a result, you end up with tight and sore muscles after most sessions. To avoid injury, you need to take care of yourself through foam rolling, gentle stretching, hot baths, massage, etc. It’s equally important to make sure you’re well-rested and have quiet time before and after dance class to prep and unwind.

8. How to be vulnerable
Dance encourages you to express yourself through movements and styling. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to “let go”. As a reserved person, it took a long time before I felt comfortable enough to try latin dance. And even longer before I felt comfortable using arm styling and hip action. Embracing discomfort and expressing yourself honestly helps build connections and confidence.

What are some things you’ve learned through a hobby or sport?

Surviving games night

picnic-1208229_1920Saturday night was the dreaded “charades night” from my post here. It actually went a lot better than I had expected. There were a couple of things that helped plus one surprise turn of events that made my night.

Firstly, I was able to bring my own food. There are a lot of things I can’t eat due to food sensitivities. In most cases, if I don’t bring something of my own, I end up hungry and irritable. My heated-up leftovers kept my energy up even if they weren’t as exotic as the “build your own taco” option.

Secondly, one of the friends I traveled with had to work early the next morning. She felt bad for inconveniencing me but I assured her that it wasn’t a problem. Not only did we get to leave early but we even had a “good” reason for doing so. People usually don’t try to guilt trip you into staying longer when you have a work-related excuse.

But what made the evening actually enjoyable, was the fact that the game changed from charades to pictionary at the last minute. While I’m not a fan of either, pictionary is a far better alternative to charades.

Despite the change in plan I was still exhausted by the end of the night. When my roommate suggested we go to Costco for groceries the next day, I stayed in the car while she shopped. There was no way I was throwing myself into that chaos. Fortunately, Sunday was pretty relaxing and I got to do my grocery shopping, meal prep, and decluttering at my own pace.

How was your weekend?