Music lights me up. I love singing, dancing, being swept up in rhythm and melody.
High school dances were a highlight of my secondary education experience. One dance, in particular, was especially fun because it was the one dance in the year where students were allowed to dress in beach-wear and island costumes, The South Seas Dance. The dance was held in the middle of winter, which made it fun to get dressed up in summer clothes and dance in a crowd of sweaty teenagers to rock music. The dance followed the Varsity Basketball game, it was my senior year, and I came ready to dance and cheer on our team dressed in crazy island-wear from head to toe. Bathing suit, cut-off jean shorts under a fake grass hula skirt, straw hat, and ostentatious body paint on every exposed patch of skin. I sat in the stands with other wildly dressed teens cheering our team to victory. My boyfriend, at the time, was as tall as they came and played Center. Spurred by such wild enthusiasm in the crowd, our team won the game. Spirits were high, and I could think of no better way to celebrate than to go dancing. My boyfriend, however, did not like to dance. He explained he was tired from playing a hard game of basketball and just wanted to go home.
I could not believe he didn’t want to go dancing, especially when there was absolutely no denying what I wanted to do.
Can he even see me?
Isn’t it obvious that I want to go to the dance?!
How could he say that he just wants to go home?
I’m not going to fault him for speaking his truth at that time, but I hoped that he would change his mind based on how much I wanted to go. The irritation I felt gave way to rage when he told me that he wasn’t going to change his mind.
As I stood there in my absurd “outfit,” thoughts spinning about what I should do, I caved. My friends just stood there watching the whole scene unfold. They tried to convince me that I should just go to the dance without my boyfriend, but I guess I didn’t know who I was apart from being his girlfriend. My arm stretched out toward my friend with my dance admission ticket tight in my fist. I offered it to her with my jaw clenched, and gaze cast down to the floor, reasoning it was better the money I spent on it didn’t go to waste. She took it, and I stormed out of the gym toward the parking lot and into the cold February night. I was hell-bent on walking home positive that I would be warm enough on a two-mile walk at night in the middle of winter, wearing a bathing suit, because my blood was boiling.
The rage I felt stemmed not from my boyfriend being uninterested in joining me at the dance that night; it came from how easily I threw myself under the bus for the sake of having the approval of someone else.
Have you ever sacrificed something important to you for the approval of others?