She was sitting on a bench in the corner of the room, watching people dancing and having fun. I could see her toe tapping, she seemed to be enjoying the music, but I couldn't really tell because her face didn't show any signs of a smile. I saw her the last time our band played at that venue, and remembered when she quietly came to me afterward to tell me how much she liked our band, and that if she knew how to dance, she would have. She was so shy.
I called out to her from the stage: "Come on out, dance with us! I can see you want to! Come on out and have some fun!" I motioned to my friends on the dance floor, smiling to encourage her.
She looked behind her, assuming I was talking to someone else. And then she looked straight at me with zero expression. I gave up. A song or two later, I noticed she had left her spot and walked further away from stage, watching from a safer distance.
I remember being shy, I remember being more self conscious than I am now. I like to say I don't regret, but there are definitely some moments in my past that I wish I could do over again. A lot of them involve sitting out a great song because I was self conscious about dancing. Opportunities flew right past me: To sing with great musicians, to dance, to swim in the ocean. The memories of that person, the girl who didn't raise her hand to volunteer on stage, the girl who said no to a cute boy because she didn't think she could dance, the one who was so concerned about how she looked or that she might mess up a note, those memories came back to me as I watched the woman in the audience look away from me. What a waste.
How did things change for me? With a little help from my friends. I was lucky enough to have friends to pull me out on the dance floor, to volunteer me to get on a stage, to tell me not to be scared. Now I'm that friend.
At some point in my life, I realized:
- It doesn't matter if you do something silly, as long as you own it. The audience likes to see you laugh, and if there are hecklers, they really don't matter.
- The majority of the people in the audience want to see you succeed, they want to see you having fun, and many are thinking about how brave you are for getting up there.
I tell my friends, my coaching clients, my children, that they must step up when an opportunity presents itself. If for just a moment you think "wow, that looks like fun, I wonder what it's like to...", take it. Leave that self conscious person behind and take the leap.
Living with regret is not living. When you don't have the energy or physical ability to dance, will you be sitting in the corner, thinking "what I'd give to dance right now. I love this song."
I hope not. I know I won't be that person.
I'll be the one holding the mic.