I went swing dancing this week for the first time in over a month. I’ve been very spotty about going lately— mostly due to life-stuff getting in the way of my free-time.
The past two weeks, I’ve felt a bit disconnected from my social life.
That nagging feeling at the back of my head that I’m missing out on my summer has become more and more prevalent since leaving San Francisco about a month ago.
Whenever that feeling of ‘missing’— which is similar to loneliness, but not quite the same— starts becoming louder and louder, I usually turn to swing dancing.
That’s sort of how I got started dancing in the first place— it was my crutch when I needed it four years ago, and it’s always been there whenever I needed it since.
Lately, I’ve been pretty inconsistent about dancing— and that’s not because I don’t love it (spoiler: I do love it), it’s because everything has changed in those four years.
I’ve changed. The scene’s changed. To a degree, my friend group has changed.
Those changes are weird for me.
Four years ago, I would show up to The Down And Over or to The Wherehouse— or wherever the dancing was— on any given night, and know that my closest friends were going to be there.
That doesn’t happen anymore.
The smoky, jazzy, crowded, never-ending nights filled with friends and adventures that were my norm three years ago have slowly transformed into bright, quiet, easy dances that lack the passion and weight of the music they used to carry.
I spew a lot of content about facing your fears and being bold— about being brazen in how you live your life— but when I’m out dancing in my town, in a room full of people I kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really know, I absolutely suck at interacting.
I am one of those people who gets bogged down by their own head— the person who wants other people to talk to them, but hesitates to initiate— regardless of the fact that I’m generally a confident conversationalist.
Why? Because I vaguely know these people already.
When it comes to people you already know to some degree or another— it’s a little different than talking to a stranger. When you talk to a stranger, everything is new. They’re new, and for the most part: their story is new.
Strangers are inherently interesting because of that.
Acquaintances on the other hand— especially if you’re also ‘friends’ with them on social media— are not quite as interesting or easy to talk to.
Since there’s a level of familiarity there, it almost feels as if you know them better than you actually do. Because of that, and because there isn’t much other than situational stuff to discuss— the resulting conversation tends to become pretty dull fairly quickly.
So, when I’m out dancing and I’m not close with anyone— I get stuck in my head.
‘What do I want to know about that person?’
‘Oh, but what happens if I talk with them too long and I don’t get to dance?’
‘Do they even really know who I am? Do they care?’
‘What do we even have in common besides dance?’
Instead of living in the moment, I hesitate.
Instead of initiating conversation when I want to, I stick to the wall and watch. Instead of chatting after a dance, I smile, say goodbye, and grab water or a whatever I’m drinking at the moment.
I do that because it’s easy.
It’s easier than building new friendships and taking a genuine interest. It’s easier than facing rejection from people I sort-of-kind-of-but-not-really know. It’s easier than facing the reality that the dance scene I fell in love with is almost entirely different now.
Staying on the sidelines when things change is so much easier than accepting and embracing that change— and it’s certainly easier than relearning where you fit into that new world.
When you’re stuck in your head, it’s so much easier to continue to live there— and that’s why it’s so important to get out of it.
Even if it’s struggle.
The hardest things in life are embracing change— and initiating it. Knowing that you’re taking the easy road is one thing, but that knowledge means nothing if you don’t use it.
So— Embrace change. Embrace life’s little struggles, and daily reminders that you’re human. Embrace your weaknesses— but work every day to make them stronger.