At least twice a week, I take a Zumba fitness class at the gym. I love it so much, but I hate watching myself dance in the mirror. Some days I get there and just slink to the back where I can find a spot behind the other women; unnoticed.
I avert my eyes from the mirror and wait for the music to start. But when it starts, it’s loud and funky and if I just avoid the mirror, I’m fine. I start to move and suddenly I’m overcome with joy. It’s just me and the music and I’m back there dancing like nobody’s watching, and it doesn’t matter if I mess up the steps. It doesn’t matter if I think I look fat or if I don’t dance as well as the others.
It doesn’t matter because I’ve said Yes to moving my body. I’ve found bliss and celebrating. So, Yes!
Then there are days I get to Zumba and dance like nobody is watching, still feeling joy and dancing like my pants are on fire. But on some of these days, my instructor waves at me to come up to the front of the room to dance in front of all the people. Very often, she randomly picks people to come dance with her.
I love to dance, but when I’m invited up, I have a moment of uncertainty. I am excited because the energy of it is enormously fun, but I also hear the little voice asking, “WHO ARE YOU to dance up front like you ARE SOMEBODY?” This is the asshole voice that tries to keep me down and steal my joy.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to dance. But I’m also super self-conscious now that I’m heavier and older. The extra weight limits my movement and so does tendinitis in my ankle.
Yesterday, in the middle of one of my favorite songs, the instructor waved for me to come forward. As usual, I hesitated, then I went. Watching myself in the mirror felt awkward. I was quick to criticize my jiggly parts and the way I moved. But as I danced in front of the mirror, I caught a glimpse of my slightly worn, starting-to-fade, temporary tattoo on the inside of my wrist. I’ve been wearing it for several days on the arm that can’t have real tattoos because of the risk of lymphoma.
It says “Yes.” In a single moment, I realized it was a great reminder. I thought to myself, “Yes!”
I embraced my “Yes,” and for the rest of the song, I stopped looking at my jiggly parts. I looked at my face, my feet, the women behind me, at my instructor. I looked anywhere but at my body, because I didn’t want that voice to steal my fun. I told my critic to shut up. I let it all go. I danced for joy.
It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t particularly graceful. But it filled my soul. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, friends. If it does you good, then you should do more of it. Yesterday was a good reminder of that.
Sometimes, that’s all you need. Just a little reminder to say “Yes.”
From now on, when I am called to dance in front of the group, I will not hesitate. I will go and I will do it gladly, because even though I’m self-conscious, even though I’m not the best dancer, even though I don’t love what I see in the mirror, I realized that it’s not about those things. It’s about happiness. I want to say Yes to what brings me joy. I’m tired of being afraid to be seen.
I think we should all be saying Yes more often. We should say Yes because we can. We get to say Yes.