Stop Thinking, Start Dancing: An Ode To Dancing It Out

by Ciara Rafter
I am going through a kind of transition

Call me overdramatic, or even naive, but I am ready to admit that maybe I was wrong when I publicly announced I wasn’t scared, scared of being in control of my own life. It’s not that I was kidding myself, I was just unaware of what it means to stand on my own two feet and trust them to lead me the right way. It doesn’t help that coordination is something I lack, being the walking definition of two left feet. And it isn’t just my feet that struggle to find their way, it’s my mind too. It’s embarrassing really, when I was the one who seemed to have her shit together, the one who knew what she wanted and how she was going to get it once her three years of university came to an end.

What’s worse is that there is definitely written proof of this too. Of this false sense of confidence, of certainty. That’s the struggle of being a writer. There’s a track record of what I said once and of what I am saying now. When I graduated, I felt an immense pressure to put up a facade in what I wrote, in order to show consistency. That’s what all the advice I read on the internet taught me: find a niche and stick to it. I’d be so worried about contradicting myself in my opinions, I’d be known as a hypocrite, a jumble-minded, confused liar blagging it as a writer just so I had something tangible to show to my parents.

I have a habit of making things stupidly difficult for myself.

I became obsessed with having to remember every single thing I’d written and having to carry on that mantra. Consistency. Consistency. I felt it in other aspects of my life as well. Always being the positive one with a smile on her face, the one who lifts everyone else spirits, the one to rely on. If one day I didn’t feel so perky, I’d rather fake a smile because nobody likes to be brought down with sadness. After a certain amount of time of knowing somebody, they’ll decide on a certain representation of you, and the pressure of this weighed heavily on me anytime I was anything but that.

In my last year at university, I did a linguistic analysis on Ze Frank’s TED talk ‘Are you human?’. Despite my tutor advising against it, I choose this text because I felt I had to. One of the questions Frank asks the TED audience is “Have you ever had a nagging feeling one day you’ll be discovered as a fraud?” and it’s the only interrogative he asks that I didn’t quite understand at the time. I racked my brain to understand what it could mean, but I felt zero relatability to it. After the assignment was handed in, graded, and never to be discussed again, I thought about that one question often, still to this day. It wasn’t until recently I actually began to understand what it meant. I felt like a fraud, as a writer, and a person, to produce documentations that represent me in a certain way with specific opinions and feeling, when I don’t consistently agree with them.

I thought a lot, which sometimes helps me come to a resolution, but in this case, got me nowhere.

Circles, I was going around and around in circles.

So, in an ode to stop thinking, I did the only thing that stops my mind from trying so hard to solve my unnecessary, over-complicated life crises; I danced. And it’s not that I can dance. I am constantly reminded, “Ciara, you have no rhythm”. But with dancing, it isn’t a case of needing to excel in it to feel like I can do it. I have no desire to improve my flexibility and I don’t strive to look sexy or shake my hips like my friends who were born with the gift of the dance.

My playlist, Dance it out, features the most unlikely songs, originally inspired by Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy. And don’t get me wrong from my idyllic reminiscence of university, it wasn’t all stress free happiness – university was the place this playlist was born. After my friend and I became frantically obsessed with Grey’s, we took a note out of their book and danced whenever times got tough. Or when we had too much energy, or when we didn’t want to sleep, or when we should have been writing dissertations.

Many of the songs on Dance it out aren’t the most obvious choices.

I find that typical dance songs are so easy to dance to it almost takes the fun out of it. There’s no creativity to the way you dance to them, the moves you choose are so ingrained and everybody looks the same. I loved seeing the differences between how my friend and I danced, and how we’d come up with dance moves that made us move our bodies in ways we didn’t know were possible and how eventually we’d end up lay on the floor in tears of happiness. No matter how ridiculous we looked, judgement was never passed. So instead of the generic pop musical choices, I try to gather the most obscure songs I can find, and if I’m still able to dance to them and end up feeling rejuvenated and alive, my dance it out has been a success. I like the whole figuring it out for yourself, no clues or cues as to how to dance to these songs. And as a person who is addicted to lyrics, it’s refreshing to stop caring about what everything means for once, and just move.

After letting my body go and doing whatever the hell I want with it, everything makes more sense than it did before.

And after months of creating time to turn my music up and dance to my heart’s content, it’s a lot more apparent now that I’m not a fraud to feel other emotions than the one I’ve consistently felt for the majority of my life. To be a writer isn’t to listen to how other writers write, because if consistency isn’t working for you, scrap it. If producing one particular theme isn’t allowing you to write quality content, forget about it. Change isn’t always a bad thing, and showing how you feel no matter what that feeling is, is okay too.

I don’t think it makes someone a hypocrite to say at one moment in time that you’re not scared of life after university and then admit a few months down the line that you are well and truly petrified of right now. I remember once even ranting about how even though people say university isn’t ‘the real world’, I believe it is. Well, my mind is changing on that one too, sure it’s real, but it’s different. It’s confusing, because university is where so many people find their independence. However, in actuality, you’re not completely independent until you feel lost for the first time and have to figure out how to be found again, on your own. And it’s okay to admit that you were wrong and this isn’t as easy as you thought it would be, because, in theme with my linguistic analysis, I find that this makes us human.

A few picks from my dance it out playlist:
Pierre – Ryan Weaver
Dance Any Way I Please – Like Swimming
Boardwalks – Little May
Where Does The Good Go? – Tegan and Sara
It’s All in Vain – Wet
Alive – Gsldfrapp
A&E- Goldfrapp
Olivia – Huxlee
You – Golden Youth
Girls Aren’t Supposed Yo – Lorene Scafaria
Clementine – Sarah Jaffe
Gone (The Pocahontas Song) – Ziggy Alberts
Sirens – Da,The Jones
Every Other Sunday Morning – The Wind and The Wave

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