Ever since I was little, I had a hard time coping with emotions that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t communicate well, and most of the time, I would bottle up whatever I was feeling. Because I didn’t know how to verbally express myself, I had all of this pent-up emotion that made me feel as if I was about to burst. Then, I heard the song “American Boy” by Estelle, and I never looked back — dancing became my therapy.
Since then, whenever I got sad, I would sneak into my room with tears welling in my eyes, put my headphones on and just dance. I’m 18 years old now, and I still dance like no one’s watching whenever I’m feeling down. Now, I use dancing as a coping mechanism not only when I’m sad but also when I’m stressed, happy, anxious or excited. Basically, whenever I’m feeling an intense emotion, I start dancing. It sounds silly, and while it may freak out my poor roommate (sorry, Claire), I cannot tell you how much learning to dance by myself has helped me. Not only does it help me calm my nerves, but after dancing ridiculously, I can’t take myself seriously. It makes whatever exam, crisis or event in my life that is happening seem silly.
I should clarify that I’m a horrible dancer. I have random moves that I always do, and I think I look better than I actually do. But I can’t tell you how confident it makes me. And when you’ve mastered dancing by yourself without feeling embarrassed, start dancing in public. One of my favorite memories I’ve made at UC Berkeley is dancing in front of the campus School of Law with a friend who I had just met, running around looking ridiculous.
Not only has learning to dance by myself helped with my confidence, anxiety and difficult times, it also helps me connect with important people in my life. Whether it’s dancing and singing for my Abu (grandmother) to make her smile or dancing with my roommate to make the pain of midterms go away, dancing brings me closer to the people I love.
So, make a playlist of songs that make you want to dance, sing along and just have a party all by yourself. I guarantee that after you’re done, you’re going to look at yourself and you won’t be able to take yourself seriously. It may feel weird at first, but once you start dancing and getting into a rhythm, you won’t want to stop.