The Insecure Dancer
By: Bridget Zhang
On most days, I am okay with being alone. I am used to it. In a way, I am so good at being alone that it is weird for me to be with anyone else. I don’t mean in just a romantic way but just having a friend I can commit to. I have plenty of friends, but there is no one I can call if I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the night. I would have no idea who would be my maid of honor if I were to get married tomorrow. These “friendships” can become very fabricated in my life. I would always end up isolating myself because I can’t follow through with plans or I believe that everybody else is better off without me. So, I make myself feel better and just hang out by myself.
It is awkward to hang out by yourself. The best place for the lonely is the social dance environment. One of the biggest reason people falls in love with dance is because it can fulfill something inside of them when all else fails. That’s when I first started salsa dancing. I had just moved back to Philadelphia. I broke off a relationship of 2 years and felt incredibility lonely. I looked on Meet up and found the salsa social. Going out dancing every night kept myself busy alone with classes and rehearsals. Of course I have been doing ballet, contemporary and modern genres since the beginning of time. It is different from social dancing. In a ballet class, the teacher tells you what to do and you just do it. The joy of social dancing as a follow is that you don’t have to think too much about the next move. There are techniques and patterns for a follow to master. Once that is mastered, we can dance up a storm with any lead. It is exhilarating, fulfilling and the closeness to a person fills up the void within. Yet, it is not the person that fills the void. It is the dance. No matter if they are married, engaged their girlfriend watching 3 feet away; they are yours for that couple of minutes.
I still have this invisible wall with the rest of the world. The wall becomes even more visible when I go out to social dance. No matter which scene you are in, it is all a big family. Everyone knows each other and everyone is welcome. There are some people who are closer to each other than others. If you are around long enough, you will always see familiar faces. Somehow, when I stand on the sidelines waiting for a dance, I can’t help but feel little insecure. In the back of my mind I believe that all the girls are better, prettier and more desirable for guys to dance with. I am a good dancer, not the best, a little chubby and a little socially awkward. I try to swallow my pride and go up to ask the next guy to dance. It is the scariest for a beginner dancer.
But there are just a few who would never dance with me even if I keep on insisting. Then you see them go ask another prettier girl. Those few guys can make me feel like the most insecure and ugly person in the world. Sometimes it is even an instructor. A part of me says maybe if I were a better dancer or skinnier then they would want to dance with me. I still hope everyday that they would dance with me. I just wish I knew why I was on their blacklist. Do I even have the confidence to ask them to their face?
When I am on stage and all eyes are on me, I push away all these insecurities just to put my game face on. After the show, everyone is congratulating and complimenting me while I am in the bathroom crying and beating myself up. I watch the videos a thousand times and pick myself apart. When I go out social dancing, there is always some that will come up to me and tell me that I am amazing. I politely say thank you but did not believe a single word they just said. Other times, I would be talking to a guy friend, wanting their attention, while they tell me how amazing “that” girl is on the dance floor. I look at him and I want to ask if he thinks I am just as beautiful. I can never find the words. I can’t help but feel envious and broken inside when all I ever wanted was for him to tell me that I am beautiful. Being abused as a child, my biggest struggle is to find my own worth.
No matter how insecure dance can make me feel. It is the one thing I can go to just feel alive. Dance can either break you or make you. You come to it a broken crayon and you go out of it able to draw the brightest colors with all that you have left. It can either take the living life out of you or it can give you life.
For me, my biggest challenge as a dancer is to break open my shell. Let the dance surround my every breath. I am working on it everyday. I want to believe in the beauty of my dreams, my art and my talents. I want to stand in the crowd proud of my own accomplishments. I want to be able to inspire other. I want to be able to believe that I am an inspirational to other. I want to believe that I am beautiful. I want to believe that I am talented. I want to believe that I am worthy of people’s praise and worthy of the stage. No one can tell me that but me.