My daughter had her first dance recital this weekend; she’s four. I loved watching her and all of the students get out on the big stage with the bright lights shining onto them, facing a huge crowd of over a thousand people. They danced their hearts out for us; well… some just stood there watching their classmates. And, some forgot their steps. Some were off-beat. But, all were perfect.
Why? Because they were perfect for exactly where they were supposed to be with what they were supposed to know given their experience and training—or lack thereof—to date. Perfect for who they were and where they were.
Contrast that with my youth where, by the time I was jealous of all of my friends in sports and dance and theater, I was simultaneously too embarrassed to start from the beginning. I was all too aware of my clumsiness and awkwardness to submit myself to the torture that would be—GASP!—making a mistake.
There are many things I never started and to this day I regret robbing my younger self of those opportunities.
How often do we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve perfection and not nearly enough pressure on ourselves to start? How often is the fear of learning something new greater than the joy of it? How often is our own stage fright robbing us of a standing ovation?
My daughter was one of the ones who danced a few seconds behind the more experienced girls. She didn’t care; in fact, I’m pretty sure she didn’t even notice. To her, it was about the experience and the experience was fun.
When I asked her if she wanted to dance again next season she responded with an emphatic grin and nod. She’s not painfully aware of missing her steps; she’s not self-conscious; she’s not afraid of starting. And if I have any influence, she will never learn those things.
It’s time we dance like everyone is watching. Time we get out there on the big stage, under the bright lights, in front of the big crowd. Because we’ll have a lot more fun than those who stayed home. And when we’re done, we might even be willing to do it all over again.