Step one: Briefly consider not even going.
The time was 7:30 p.m. I lay on my bed, full face of make-up, dress on, scrolling through my social media as I passed the hour before the dance began. This is when it dawned on me how easy it would be to just not go. My effort and outfit would not be wasted since I had a birthday party to attend later in the evening, and sitting in a dimly lit room alone on Twitter is far more relaxing than being in an even more dimly lit room full of strangers. On the other hand, I love to dance, and college doesn’t allow for many opportunities to do so that aren’t in a frat house on Riverside with a Trump for President banner hanging in the window. In the end, this was enough to motivate me. Beyond that, there was always the possibility that my attractive co-worker would be there, and I’m never one to pass on an opportunity to hate myself for not making a move. Before I could change my mind and take a nap instead, I got up and made my way to the Park Multi-purpose room.
Step two: Show up way too early.
With no one to wait on, I knew my anxiety would drive me to extreme punctuality, but I had devised a plan to combat this. In my mind, leaving my room at 8:27 and taking the long way would put me at my destination a comfortable five minutes late. Unfortunately, time is an illusion, and I showed up at exactly 8:30. As I passed by the MPR from outside I could see through the window that a few SHC members were still doing some last minute set-up. Visions of a dark, empty room with a solitary white guy dancing to Flo Rida’s “Low” haunted me as I walked down the long back hallway of Park. Luckily, there were several people I recognized already there, and more arrived soon after.
Step three: Realize you actually have more friends than you thought.
As the night went on, the little dance circle that had originally consisted of myself and my N&N editor slowly began to fill in with familiar faces. I realized how many amazing connections I had made through the Honors College, and began to regret that I had not really nurtured any of them. Sure, I would speak to whoever sat next to me in class and throw a wave when I passed them on campus, but I didn’t really know them - and that’s a shame. I felt comfortable doing an interpretive dance to “Closer” and scream-singing “Party in the U.S.A.” with every person there. You can’t say that about everyone. I’m not sure I could even say that about some of the people I’ve considered close friends in the past. Knowing there are plenty of people out there willing to join in with my terrible dancing makes the world feel a little less lonely.
Step four: Have fun.
I certainly did. Nothing is quite as cathartic as not caring whether or not anyone cares about or even notices what you’re doing and just losing yourself to Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch”.
Step five: Leave whenever you want.
While this step is possibly the most selfish, I can’t deny it was definitely a major perk of attending a dance by yourself. At no time during the night did I feel the need to make any decisions to appease anyone else. In the past I’ve left dances early because someone I came with was bored, or stayed way longer than I wanted to because my friend was too busy trying to flirt. It was also nice to be able to go to the bathroom alone for a change, and have my pick of every single photobooth prop. But most importantly I didn’t have to convince anyone that “Cotton-eyed Joe” wasn’t worth staying for. I easily slipped away after a few good-byes before I had to watch three and a half minutes of white people line dancing to folk-techno. I’ve never felt so blessed.
When all was said and done, I’m glad I decided to get out of bed and go to this dance. Even though my dress was unbelievably hot and my attractive co-worker never showed up (hit me up if you’re reading this), it was worth it to find a few more people I know I can count on to be unabashedly awkward dancers with me. I guess that is what I am thankful for.