Monday, February 9, 2009

XXII: I'd Rather Dance With You

I can't dance to save my life. Which is probably why I would rather stay home and read a book than go out to the clubs, if I can help it. But sometimes... just sometimes... it's necessary to hit the town - especially when there's something extraordinarily fun going on. And besides, it's much easier to get on the dance floor when there's a healthy level of intoxication involved.

I went to a 1940's-themed Blitz Party on Saturday night with a few girlfriends. I was a little nervous at first, because I haven't gotten over my people anxiety enough to be fully comfortable going to an organized party with a bunch of strangers like this. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had, considering my lack of bootie-shaking abilities.

At least I got to dress up - I'm kind of a sucker for costume parties. We had a bit of a problem busting out the victory rolls (how in the world did women in the 40s do their hair every day so perfectly?) but we made do with our vintage dresses and shoes. And don't forget the fake lashes...


(L-R: Ashley, me and Allison)

(L-R: Hannah, Ashley, Megan and me)

And it was great because the party took place in this abandoned community center in Shoreditch which had about six different rooms with low ceilings, separated by old brick arches - a perfect representation of an old wartime bunker. Big band music filled the rooms, while hundreds of costumed-guests slammed against each other with their boogie and swing moves. It really WAS like being in another era.

It was kind of nice getting out of the day-to-day monotony, which has slowly been creeping up on me since winter vacation ended. Between my painful obsession with Twilight and the extra research of putting together a dissertation proposal, it's been hard to get out and experience more of London. Exactly what I was afraid of... getting too comfortable and feeling too at-home that I was beginning to get lazy with my social interaction.

Fortunately, the girls administered just the right amount of peer pressure... and I got my lazy ass to commit to buying the ticket. And I'm glad I did. We met some wonderful new people... some of whom were dashing young PhD's who were kind enough to buy us some drinks. I honestly never thought I'd ever be in that situation (usually because I keep myself out of it) but it turns out that having lots of girlfriends and maintaining a constantly welcoming smile attracts this kind of thing. Who would've known? Hah.

(L-R: James, me, John, Megan and Ashley)

Which brings me to an interesting conclusion about myself. I think I have a bit of a self-confidence problem... and I don't think I smile nearly enough. I've had a sort of epiphany. I'm completely confident when it comes to school, work, professional and familiar relationships and that sort of thing. But I'm completely clueless when it comes to interacting casually with strangers.

I think I can trace it back as far as kindergarten - when the first friend I ever made was because a little blonde-haired girl named Ariana came running up to me to ask if I wanted to go play on the swings with her. Even then, I wasn't the one putting in the initial effort. The same holds to this day. It usually takes some extraordinary magnetic force for me to put myself out there and strike up conversation with a complete stranger. But I need to stop that. Because I'm missing out.

And since Saturday, I've caught myself in the tube or walking down the street with a leave-me-alone scowl broadcasted over my face. That needs to stop too. Because I know deep down inside, I can be a pretty friendly person... and what do I really have to fear? Embarrassment? Rejection? Just a few petty things that I can get over pretty easily. And I've come to realize that most people don't mind the conversation - in fact, they might welcome it - if for nothing else than breaking the monotony of day-to-day life.

From this point on, I'm resolving to break down the protective barriers a little bit and be a more confident and approachable person.

In the words of that one girl from Waking Life: "I don't want to be an ant."

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