I was always one of those kids who dreaded having to do the school play. I would get nervous and feel nauseous. I would get shaky and be filled with dread. I was always part of the chorus, in the background, yet I still felt like I was being stared at. What if I made a mistake? Will people laugh at me?
I used to say that one of the great things about being a grown-up is that you can chose the situations that you find yourself in a lot of the time. If I was terrified of public speaking, then I just didn’t have to do it. Didn’t want to get in front of an audience? Then don’t. Simple.
So, why on earth am I preparing to go on stage with my classmates for my 6th (or maybe 7th, I’ve lost count) student belly dance gala? I guess I have learned that sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can be fun, and even exhillarating.
Tonight, my friends and I will get all dolled up, cake on our stage makeup, put on our sparkly costumes and giant gaudy jewellery and go out in front of an audience filled with appreciative friends and family, as well as random belly dance fans, and perform our hearts out for 4 minutes, and we will love every second.
I do it because I love the art form, even though I still have so much to learn. I love the costumes and the music and the cheers of the audience. But, most of all, I love the ladies I dance with. We range in age from 14 to mid-50s but are all brought together by our love of this form of dance. We shake our shoulders, smile at the audience and shimmy our hips to applause and whistles and we feel complete joy.
Just writing about it, I can’t wait for tonight to see everybody again. We will cheer on the other students, clapping loudest for those who have just started out and who are probably as terrified as I was the first time on that stage. We will do each other’s makeup backstage and help pin together costumes, swapping acessories and acting a bit like girls at a sleepover. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.