“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” Shannon L. Alder
When I was younger, when I was going through difficult periods of my life, all I wanted was for someone to tell me that I was not alone. There is an irony in that everyone is waiting for someone else to open up, to share their story. That’s why I share my stories and why I do the end of class huddles.
When we open up we feel a little less alone in the world. We can connect – “Oh man, you went through that? So did I!” It’s kind of the better version of watching the same tv show. It is a more meaningful connection than say watching Dexter or something.
There was a couple in Level 1 Salsa a while ago and for the first couple of classes, when we did the end of class huddle the guy would turn his head away from me. The first time, I thought I should really improve my stories, that I wasn’t reaching everyone. I would practice more. It was good feedback. At the end of the second class, I was ready. I had practiced and my story was good. But the guy turned his head away again! So then I got insecure and tried to justify it – “I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s ok. It’s fine if not everybody loves me. I don’t care!” But at the same time I was thinking “Why don’t you love me?!”
The third class came and I had decided to share a really difficult story that still chokes me up today, about how I ghosted my father for 17 years and how it was really hard for me to rebuild that relationship. At the beginning of the class, the couple came into the studio and the guy said, “Hey Aleks, I need your help.”
“Of course, what do you need?”
Then his face turned red and he was visibly embarrassed. I grabbed his arm and I pulled him into the back of the studio, to the closet, to get some privacy. “Hey man, what’s going on?”
“Listen, I have trouble hearing.” He turned his head and I could see he was wearing a hearing aid. He took out a microphone and said “Can you stick this on your t-shirt so I can hear you better?”
“Oh! Of course!” I said excitedly as I clipped on the microphone. I thought it’s not my stories – this was why he kept turning his head away! He was a little confused about my excitement but now it all made sense to me.
So the class went great and it is time for the huddle at the end. I’m tearing up about a minute into the story about ghosting my dad. I look over at the guy and he has his face turned away! So I thought, the battery must be dead in the mic. This is a good story! He should be reacting. So I put the mic to my mouth and I’m almost yelling – “…and then my dad…” I might have made him completely deaf at that point because all I heard was a yelp and he looked at me and I saw tears running down his face. And he turned his face away again in embarrassment.
As the students were leaving, I grabbed him again and pulled him back into the closet. “What’s going on?”
“I thought I was the only one. I have a daughter and she wants nothing to do with me. I remarried. I wasn’t a good father or husband in the first marriage and I regret it so much. I’m trying to fix it but she won’t answer my phone calls or texts.”
I walked up to him as he was crying and gave him a huge hug. “Don’t give up. It took me a long time to get there but I know she will too. Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying.”
Five weeks later it was the end of the course and the couple walked into the studio again and he handed me the mic. As I was putting on the mic, he grabbed me in a giant bear hug and swung me off the ground. “What was that for?” I asked giddily.
“I didn’t give up and she texted me back.”
I can still feel that hug…I can still hear my back cracking as he picked me up off the floor and squeezed.
You have stories inside you that I never lived and you can reach and help people in ways I cannot.
We don’t need advice, we just need confirmation that we are not alone in this world. Instead of waiting for someone else to open up, why not you?
So share. Share your unique experiences and help others who are lost like you used to be.
So that they can say to you “I thought I was the only one!”
I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you coming in week to week, having fun, connecting with new friends and letting lose to amazing Latin songs. Click here to check our current schedule.
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