“I look like an idiot,” I said aloud, checking myself in the full-size mirror. I was wearing a cowboy hat, safety pinned, bright green Hawaiian shirt that was three sizes too large and jeans that were too long without the aid of my shoes – so I did, in fact, look like an idiot.
I was about two minutes away from walking on stage to perform in a hula show with my wife – an activity which caused me a small anxiety attack earlier in the day: “I can’t do this. I don’t know the dance. I’ll look like an idiot,” I had said. Here I was, minutes away from the moment of my humiliation.
I’m not a dancer. I know, for those that know me, this comes as a shock. My lithe, youthful body seems like it would slice through air and my natural grace should be a boon for whatever movements I tried to force my body to employ – but it simply isn’t so. I boldly declare to you today that I am not a dancer.
I found out about this hula gig about two months ago. Hayley ever so sweetly asked me to join her in a dance at her upcoming hula show and I agreed, on the condition that she would play softball with my office team. Several weeks later, we went to her instructor’s house to learn the dance. After we left, we talked about practicing a lot, but we never really did. We were busy, tired and uninterested in breaking out the hula CD for a little hip-swaying.
Then Saturday night rolled around – I was unprepared, embarrassed and annoyed that I had to do this thing I had agreed to do. As the preceding song to my hula reached its conclusion, I again checked myself in the mirror, adjusted my cowboy hat and turned to walk on stage.
I stepped onto the raised platforms serving as our stage and looked out at the audience. Fortunately, I was unable to see many faces as the bright spot lights made it impossible to see beyond the front row. Our music began and I began my hula.
As we performed our sweet moves, I heard the audience begin to chuckle. Rather than be bothered by this, I embraced it, telling myself they were laughing with us – this was a cute couple’s dance and Hayley and I are, in every other aspect of our lives, the picture of cuteness (particularly when I am in the background, slightly blurry, and Hayley is in the foreground, shining in her radiant beauty). Why shouldn’t this cuteness extend to our dancing?
As the dance concluded and we ran off the stage, a ripple of relief washed over me – it was over, and it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t mess up. I didn’t look good, but I didn’t mess up. I didn’t know what I was so worried about.
While I’m not going to pretend that this was some watershed moment in my life, it was a nice reminder of the power of our fears. It’s amazing how worked up we get about things beforehand and then we face a reality far less intimidating than our initial worrying led us to believe.
It is unlikely that I will ever again grace the stage at another hula recital (as it is unlikely that I will ever again be asked). And that’s ok with me. But I hope, the next time a potentially embarrassing, wife-pleasing opportunity passes my way, I’ll embrace it without hesitation.
Let me ask you this: What is fear making you hesitate doing?