The DJs music draws in a crowd of women to the dance floor. It was almost our last night on the cruise ship, the night to celebrate a week of work and play. I walked into the dim lit bar and spotted my new friends sitting at a table in the distance.
On this cruise I was committed to stretching myself outside of my comfort zone. I thought of my girlfriend, the one who taught me how to shoot Tequila. I had never ordered a shot from the bar before, in fact I usually shied away from ordering alcohol at all, letting Jon or friends lead the way. But, tonight was different.
I walked up the waiter near the cash register, and told him what I wanted, top shelf otherwise I wasn’t interested. He told me that he would give me a good deal with a wink. The waiter was soon speaking Spanish at the bartender while waving his arms, it seemed it was going to be a do-over. Then, he handed the stemmed shot glass with salt on the side and a lime to me with a nod and grin. I backed away from the bar and took the shot, placed the empty glass on the tray and walked towards the dance floor calling my name.
The dance floor was full of faces I had seen during the week, but didn’t really know. Travelers seem to be open to new connections, and it was no different on the dance floor. We sang to each other and danced miming songs. It was an experience that filled my soul even though I was like a butterfly alone in the field fluttering solo.
Then, I felt it. Eyes upon me, whispers under palms. The seats on the edges of the dance floor had a different energy flowing from them. I dismissed it at first telling myself it was just in my head. Until, the glares singled me out again and I could feel them like lasers upon my skin.
Being singled out and made fun of was one of my wounds. It hurt in Kindergarten, it stung in grade school, and felt like a gut punch in high school. I hated the feeling. At this point I had two options, leave the dance floor with regrets or dance on. With my intention of the week to stretch myself, I stayed. Instead of squelching my joy, I looked at the two girls and smiled. Then twirled away to feel the music move my body once more.
Did they stay and stare? Yup. And I chose to let them own whatever nasty crap they were trying to spew my way. I chose to continue to shine instead.
I have a hard time understanding this behavior. For some reason I thought that once girls grew out of their teens the hurtful behavior stopped. But, no. Women of all ages still find time to rip each other apart instead of standing together. I think of how powerful we could be if we reflected acceptance. How powerful women could be if we celebrated our differences and learned from each other. Encouraged each other to shift into the uncomfortable and then celebrated those steps. Celebrated our beauty in every form and personality.
That is what I am looking for in a community – people who are interested in celebrating differences, acknowledging unique journeys, and celebrating growth no matter how small.
Photo by Pasquale Vitiello.
Shine on my beautiful community.