I was 15 years old and going into my last year of secondary school.
I’d not long moved to a new area, and had started knocking about with my school mates who already lived there…it was all very exciting. That freedom you have as a teen to have a whole life your parents know nothing of.
It was all above board though.
They just took me to a local youth club…and yet this place wasn’t a pokey little church hall, this was the real deal, a purpose-built facility across two floors, with a gym, a basketball court and a dance studio.
Well it wasn’t really a dance studio, but it’s where we danced…and when I say we…I actually mean they. I didn’t dance. I just watched. Sometimes I pushed stop and start on the music system. I was a complete lurker.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t dance…I probably could, I was just too afraid to incase I looked like an idiot. I already stood out like a sore thumb as one of the few white kids that went to the club.
Nope. It was safer for me to just watch.
Until one day the group were rehearsing in a smaller room, and half the girls had not shown up. The dance tutor asked if I’d just step in so she could work out the spacing, “Even if you don’t know the moves” she said.
But of course I knew all the moves, I knew them all.
And that was that.
The girls arrived 10 minutes later, I was given a spot (at the back) and my days of being in a street dance crew began.
Those years were some of the happiest of my life…and just think they may have been very different if I had just decided to be a spectator, a bystander, an observer.
We went on to do shows around the borough, including at our local theatre and even one on the same stage as Soul to Soul.
My love of dance and of performing helped me make the decision to choose performaing arts in college, and to go to university…where I would go on to write my dissertation on “Hybrid Dance Forms and the Expression of Cultural Identity” which earned me a first class degree.
Me a first class degree???
Imagine if I’d lurked? It’s like one of those sliding doors moments. It’s like that time at a party, where you wish you’d joined the conga and didn’t, or the time in a workshop when the facilitator asks for a volunteer…and your work colleague did it, and got some brilliant breakthroughs and a free book for helping out.
Something stops us from engaging.
From playing full out.
And this is not to do with personality type, this is not a dig at introverts, or even the people who describe themselves as mavericks…the ones doing the leading not the following.
The problem is, we never really understand the opportunities we miss…we just have a nagging feeling that it could have been great….the full extent of the greatness will never truly be understood.
Look the internet is full of FOMO marketing.
This blog post is not about that.
This blog post is about saying jump in, take a risk, be visible, be vulnerable, know that you gave it a good shot, you allowed yourself to have a full experience rather than dipping your toe in, or watching others from the wings.
This shows up in the online world in the following way…
- Signing up for 5-day challenges but never completing them
- Being part of online coaching programmes but never posting about your successes or asking for support
- Not being visible in the online groups you are part of
- Being afraid to partner with people, or saying yes to opportunities
- Following coaches and experts but never buying from them
It comes down to the same thing, fears about failing, looking like an idiot, not fully trusting the process.
Jumping into dance, even if you don’t know the moves.
I have so many examples in my life where things got better simply by saying yes to things that frightened me…trusting in my ability to grow.
My 42 year old self is extremely grateful to my 15 year old self for backing her future self…I know that’s quite meta…but in a weird way, you have her (the 15 year old me) to thank…I wouldn’t be showing up in the way I do now without her.
And it’s never to late to get engaged, to jump in, to be brave
Julie Creffield is a community engagement specialist and business mentor with more than 20 years of experience. She spent the early part of her career as a drama facilitator, trainer and consultant supporting local authorities, and large organisations to get their communities and staff engaged in large scales sports and arts programmes.
She now helps coaches and experts to build community around their business, showing them how to mobalize an army of buyers not browsers, and how to get people connected en masse to their work so they don’t have to do it all themselves
The doors are about to close on Julies 3 month incubator Tribe Builder which you can find out more information about here www.tribebuildernetwork.com