Boxes and Labels

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I’ve been out of town for a week and hence no posts.  We went to attend my sister’s wedding.  My older brother works overseas and so his trips back here are limited so we all took some extra time to attend the event and do a little family bonding.  Which means for us cut throat card playing until late at night.  While it may not be directly relevant to the story, I should mention that my sister married her partner of 8 years.  They would have done this sooner but the state they live in just changed their laws on same sex marriage a couple of years ago and I think they’ve been planning ever since.  It was a wonderful event – a blend of traditional with a few unique touches that only my sister would add.

I am the second of four.  Three boys and then my sister.   Growing up, we were always convinced we were polar opposites as I was the logical numbers guy and she was the creative artsy type who was just “different”.  (She came out late in life so the different comment refers to other things).  As we’ve grown and had time for one on one’s, I think we’ve found that we are much closer than anyone thought.  So maybe it isn’t a shock that I’m writing a blog and ballroom dancing while she is taking science courses for a potential mid life career change.  Don’t get me wrong, she is a very talented writer and still very creative but neither one of us really fit the neat box that my Mom seemed to want to put us in.

Just to be clear, I’m not out to blame my parents for anything here but I can’t help but wonder if the messages I consistently received growing up have had something to do with my inability to acknowledge my own skills.  Even at this last visit, my Mom still made a comment that I was the last person she ever thought would be a dancer.  For the longest time, I basically agreed with her since it did not seem to fit what I was supposed to be.  Only recently has another voice crept in that wants to ask her “Why not me?”.  What is so different about me that you can’t imagine me dancing or enjoying it?  Is your vision of me limited by the label you’ve been applying to me since I was very young?

But then the larger point to me is that has that message be so ingrained in me that it directly feeds my feelings of inadequacy on the dance floor.  After all, I’m supposed to be the smart, logical one so I really shouldn’t be on that dance floor and if that’s true, then I really can’t be any good, can I?  I have no idea but it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.  It is not that she specifically discouraged me from doing anything and she has said that she likes my dancing and things I am good but I have to wonder if I’m still fighting that box I got put it – logical, unemotional, practical and in no way creative.  Not really sure if this leads anywhere or if it becomes some kind of self-awareness aha moment because it was more just a random thought that hit me when I heard her make the comment (again) about how she never would have expected me to do something like dance.

A couple of things to share about the wedding to actually bring dancing into this post.  My wife and I spent an afternoon with my sister and her partner.  We ended up at a Starbucks (no big shock there) and the talk turned to dancing.  They have not taken any lessons but still wanted to do a first dance together which would have basically been them swaying together so my wife jumps up and says we are going to teach them to move and sway so they ended up doing what we call a Foxy at the studio which at least got them to move across the dance floor.  Gave them an underarm turn to play with but they weren’t daring enough to try it.

My sister was also going to dance with my Dad even though he hasn’t danced in many years and really wasn’t much of a dancer when he did.  But, he’s been dealing with a pulled muscle in his leg and it cramped up on him during dinner so he was in pain and they actually left right before they were supposed to go on.  My Mom had already arranged for me to be the fill in so there was a fast scramble as we pulled my sister over and said I’d be pinch hitting which she was fine with.  She announced the situation to the crowd and we did some basic moves – I did thrown in the underarm turn and a fifth position break.  There are advantages to knowing how to dance.

My wife and I did a little dancing after that.  The play list was all fast hustles with one rumba thrown in for fun so we did as much as we could.   Everyone else was doing ” freestyle” so there was no timing and just a lot of arms flailing about but they were all having a good time so it was all good.  It did bring up another random little thought for me though.  I’ve spent so much time in the studio and with coaches that it skews my view of dancing ability.  Compared to them, I am always going to come off badly.  But, compared to people who have never taken a lesson, I look like an alien from an advanced race.  Not saying that is a good or bad thing but it was just an interesting perspective.  I would like to remember the joy the people were feeling even if they weren’t dancing official Famous Franchise steps, they were having fun and dance also has to be about fun.

OK, I’m done rambling.  The event that I haven’t discussed until now is less than a month away and I’ve booked a whole bunch of extra lessons.  It is crunch time!

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