Fifth Monday Guest Post: Dancing and Other Acts of Bravery

Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.
— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Dance parties are a regular evening activity at our house. My children are two and six, which means tempers are short and emotions are ragged by the time dinner is cleared away. If left to their own devices, the big one will start picking at the little one (or vice versa) and someone will be in tears before the leftovers are in the fridge.

Dancing is our panacea. We pull up Can’t Stop the Feeling on Spotify, and before Justin Timberlake can sing the first note, the mood has lifted. Ellie begins to twirl. Nathan closes his eyes and sways to the beat. Sometimes my husband Jon and I join in, but frequently we watch from our collapsed position on the couch, smiling as they get lost in the music.

Have you ever watched children dance? Not at a recital, when an adult has taught them steps, but just grooving to a beat they feel in their bones? It’s not very rhythmic. It’s silly and spastic and there’s a lot of falling down.

It’s also one of the most joyous things you’ll ever observe. I’d argue that no one is happier than a kid dancing for no particular reason.

Somewhere along the way, that unbridled joy and lack of self-awareness fades though. Ever watched a group of adults dance? Some can feel it, sure, and seem to be having the time of their lives. But there’s always one or two who are hesitant. They’re looking at their feet and casting glances at others to see how they move, so they can mimic. Their desire to get it “right” keeps them from giving themselves over to the music.

I feel this is true of writing, too. I have no choice but to schedule my writing time—otherwise life would take over, and I’d never get the chance. Many times (most times?) when I sit down at the appointed hour, I find myself doing everything except writing. I’ll see what’s happening on Facebook. I’ll order a birthday present on Amazon. Anything but put words on a page.

Why? Because I’m scared that I don’t have anything good to say. I’m so worried that my writing will be bad that I don’t write at all. I’ll write tomorrow, I reason, and I move on to something else.

But we only get so many tomorrows. And writing brings me more joy and helps me know myself in a way that nothing else does; why would I let a fear of looking like a fool stop me from something that beautiful?

They say that comparison is the thief of joy, but I think perfectionism is a pickpocket. It is subtle and sneaky, but the result is the same: we are robbed of what we treasure.

Today, I sat down and wrote. I’m not sure if it’s any good, and am actually fairly confident I’ll delete most of it tomorrow. But I remembered my daughter twirling and my son swaying, and I let the words dance.

Guest post written by Jennifer Batchelor. Jennifer is a Nashville native, wife and mother of two. She's a member of the writing team at Coffee + Crumbs, a collaborative blog about motherhood, and also works as a freelance marketing and communication professional. You can read more of her musings on motherhood, marriage and the space for grace at That Batchelor Life or follow her on Instagram.