You’re not the Problem

“If they are not believers, it doesn’t mean you are not magic.” Unknown

If you’re constantly feeling like option B with someone, that’s not your problem, that’s their problem. Even today after over a decade of dancing, I can’t help but want my partner to smile. And last year, I was reminded that I’m not in control of other people’s happiness.

It was my birthday and I went out dancing with two of my friends. It was incredible! The pandemic was lifting and I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. People who were students when I was in class. Some of my former students. It was beautiful.

I finished one dance and I saw another woman and as is customary, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to dance. As she turned around, she looked me up and down stony-faced. Then I saw her subtly look around for a better option than me. A little soul-crushing, but I stood firm. She finally looked up, completely unimpressed and said “Yeah, I guess. Sure.”

Not exactly an inspiring start. At first, I was frustrated, then angry, then excited. Because in my mind, I was thinking, this girl has no idea who I am or how much fun we’re gonna have. I’m gonna prove it to her. So we started to dance. I pulled out all the stops. I did every move that always makes someone smile after dancing with me. The weird moves, the goofy moves, the sexy moves, the cool moves. I tried them all. The moves I teach, moves I don’t teach, and moves I was creating on the spot. But no matter what I did, she remained stony-faced. And my confidence started to crumble.

About halfway through the song, as I’m dipping her – she yawned! And she started to look around for other partners – as I was dipping her! I honestly wanted to walk away. But I make it a rule to always finish a dance. That doesn’t mean that I can’t give her an exit. I just looked at her and said, “Hey, listen, if you’re tired, or maybe you want to dance with someone else – we can stop.”

She checked out the dancers nearby, then looked up at me with the same blank expression and said, “No. I think it’s fine. We can finish the dance.”

For some reason, her dispassionate answer hurt even more. I definitely felt like option B at that point. As we finished the dance, I still smiled and said thank you. But I needed a moment to recover. I sat down at a Salsa Club, which I rarely do. I was frustrated and thought maybe I was at fault. Have you ever felt like that where you do everything you can to make someone happy? But it is still not enough. And you blame yourself.

I was definitely spiralling down. But then I heard this scream of joy. “Oh my gosh! It’s Aleks!” It was like I was a celebrity. So, I got up from the chair and looked around. This tiny woman makes her way through the throng of people and squeals again, “Oh my gosh – you’re Aleks!” She is so excited that she is jumping up and down.

Immediately, I match her energy and start jumping up and down as well. “Yes, I’m Aleks. But I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are. Were you one of my students?”

She is still jumping as she replies, “No. I’m from India and I just moved to Toronto two weeks ago.”

I stopped jumping because I was utterly confused. “I don’t understand. How do you know me?”

“Before I moved, I looked on Instagram for Salsa in Toronto and I found your profile. Not only do I love the way you dance, but I love your energy and your stories. You have such positive energy. Would you do me the honour of dancing with me?”

Immediately, I teared up. As low as I felt, there was a person who thought I was enough. She pulled me onto the dance floor. We started dancing and we were laughing and goofing around. It was a great dance. At the end of the dance, I hugged her.

But after this wild swing of emotions between the two dances, I again needed to sit down and recover. The experience taught me a great lesson. No matter what I did with my first dance partner, I didn’t feel like I was enough. With my last dance partner, I didn’t have to do anything and I was enough. It reminded me that on a dance floor, even when it feels like a person is dancing with you, sometimes they only have one foot in. That’s how it is in life. If you find that you often feel like Option B, that’s not a you problem. That’s a them problem. So don’t compromise. You are enough and you #belong. You’re no B. In my eyes, you are an A.

I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you come in every week, have fun, socialize, and let loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here for our current schedule.

If you have any questions you would like me to answer, here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodancesalsa), on Twitter (#torontodancesalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected]

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