Trying new things is like riding a bike. Once you build up a little speed, the pedaling gets a lot easier. There are sayings about this, too, like how starting is the hardest part of any task. Fear of the unknown contributes as well. But once you get in the swing of things, there’s no challenge you can’t tackle.
Many times, it’s easy to overanalyze. What will this be like? How would it be if this happened? But all that anxiety leaves little room for productive action. This October, in the spirit of trying new things, I’ve had the opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone. And I’ve been realizing the anxiety attached to trying new things is no longer enough to dissuade me. I dropped into an introductory partner dance at The Viscount dance studio in Portland, Oregon, and learned about more than just dance with instructor and studio owner, Sarah Riddle…I learned the reward of trying new things.
The class laid out some of the basics of dance. Sarah explained the different roles of leads and follows, and how each is essential to dance overall. To me, the terms used to connote a hierarchy of dominance and importance, but that’s really not the case. Each role is essential, and each depends on one another to make the dance as a whole look good.
My partner, a seasoned follow, was learning to lead, and because this was my first experience with partner dance, we were both experiencing something new. It reminded me of starting a new job, or making a new friend: it takes some time to learn the expectations of the role, the proper way to move within the role’s boundaries. It takes a moment to find the beat and learn how to communicate. But once you do, the rhythm is rewarding.
I found the beat with my eyes closed in one case. The instructor explained how sometimes it’s easier to follow when your eyes are closed because instead of searching for cues in your partner’s shoulders or expression, you’ll feel the cues. And much to my surprise, I did. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to trip or be led astray, but I took the chance, and was rewarded: as I reported the following day to a friend, it was the first time I’d actually felt like a good dancer.
It’s no secret that gaining momentum is hard. But it is possible. Try something new once, and if you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, try something else. Exposing yourself to one opportunity opens itself to another, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. You never know what you can do until you try.