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Dance Like No One's Watching (and Other Ways to Soothe Your Soul)

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Photo courtesy of Jackson David/Pexels

While on our weekly Facetime call with our daughter who is away at college, she mentioned to us that she’d made a new friend in her major, cybersecurity. Then she said she’d met him at the last place you’d think to find another tech student, at an art club she’d joined. At this art club the students get together once a week as they work on various projects. She said she takes her sketchbook and her markers and unwinds with other creative souls. 

I could relate to her story. While I suspected she’d spend all her free time (not that she has that much these days!) in the video gaming lounge, she’s turned back to a hobby that serves as her stress relief. I think we all have those hobbies. Although I make my living as a writer now, I used to enjoy indulging in writing free verse poetry. I took whatever emotions were bottled up inside me and laid them down on the page. I knew these poems would never be published, but they served as therapy for me and that was all that mattered. 

I recently wrote a column for our local lifestyle magazine about something else I loved doing as a teenager—dancing. 

Here’s an excerpt from it: 

When I was twelve years old, I moved from Texas to western North Carolina. I was living with my parents in an old farmhouse out in the country, and the only neighbors around were a few family members of my stepfather. I hadn’t started school, so I hadn’t made any new friends yet. Both of my parents worked long hours that summer, and I was the quintessential late 1980s kid who had to find ways to entertain myself. Yes, I had my books, and a few favorite VHS tapes I nearly wore out, but I also had music. Specifically, I had the original motion picture soundtrack to the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Let me preface this by saying I’m not a dancer. I’ve never been dancer. 

But boy, did the movie “Dirty Dancing” make me want to dance. I wanted to wear gauzy dresses and glittery sandals and twirl around the dance floor, confident in my steps and place in the world. Each day, I would pop that soundtrack into our stereo and proceed to dance around the hardwood floors of our home. Sometimes I had a broom or mop in one hand when my mom had left me a list of chores to complete that day. I didn’t care that I didn’t know how to do the Mambo, the Tango, the Cha Cha, or any form of salsa dancing. I spun around, dancing to “De Todo Un Poco” and singing “Be My Baby” and “In the Still of the Night.” 

As I shared this story with my family recently, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me. “I don’t dance anymore,” I said. “I don’t know why I stopped doing that. It used to make me so happy.” I think sometimes we get so busy, so overwhelmed with the many different directions our lives take us each day that we forget to do the simple things that bring us joy, like dancing around the house on a random Saturday afternoon or filling up a sketchbook with illustrations and comics. 

I’ve vowed to make more time for indulging myself in the things that made me happy when I was 12 and 13. Won’t you join me? 

Renee Roberson is a freelance writer and podcaster. Her short story, “The Monster in the Woods,” recently won second place in the Genre Short Story category of the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition.

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