To Anyone Afraid Of Trying That New Thing,

Written by Logan Kramer

When I arrived at college in a new state, without knowing a soul, it seemed like the ideal time to try something new. I wasn’t out to reinvent myself, but I figured that a new hobby couldn’t hurt. I landed on ballroom dancing. After three whirlwind weeks on my college’s ballroom dance team, I found out about a competition to show off my (very) new skills. I thought “What do I have to lose?” and asked someone I had never had a full conversation with to dance with me. There was no sudden Dirty Dancing transformation, but my new partner and I jumped headfirst into the experience determined to try our best.

A few weeks later I applied fake eyelashes for the first time and strapped on borrowed dance shoes that were one size too small. I nervously chattered to my friends about the jive that my partner and I had signed up for without knowing we’d be dancing alone. In an act of solidarity, two other newbie couples signed up to dance alongside us despite having no prior preparation. When it was our turn to dance, my partner and I walked across the gym to the cheers of my roommates, who showed up to root for me with a poster that had my picture plastered on it.

We placed last in every single dance. My cheeks burned a bright shade of red as we walked up to receive third place ribbons in the jive. The two couples who hadn’t prepared for the dance beat us handily. I was mortified. I felt like this was supposed to be my opportunity to succeed and show off what I’d practiced, but instead I was handed a third place ribbon and got apologies and pats on the back from the few people who understood what had happened.

After moping for a bit and nearly quitting, I decided instead to stick with it. Months later after another dance competition, a mentor told me about one of her favorite childhood life lessons. She’d been told that no matter how you do in a competition, you’ve done better than everyone else who never chose to show up. Showing up, especially when you’re trying something new, takes immense courage. But it takes even more guts and perseverance to continue showing up again and again, knowing that failure is possible. As I continued to show up to dance, with varying levels of success, I pushed myself to feel pride about trying no matter the results. Starting at the bottom added meaning to every bit of progress my ballroom partner and I achieved as we continued to compete and dance together.

Ballroom dancing is admittedly low-stakes when it comes to failure. But showing up even when success seems unlikely is a lesson I’ve taken into the rest of my life. I showed up to be there for friends even when I could do nothing to help but listen. I showed up to return to my normal routines when I was grieving for a loved one and doubted my ability to leave my room. Fearing failure is normal and real, but showing up when failure seems imminent shows a commitment to trying. Sometimes when the ground feels shaky or the task in front of you seems impossible, showing up is all that you can do. It’s a first step you should be proud of, whether you show up in a suit, a sports jersey, or a pair of too-tight dance shoes.  

Someone who really believes you can keep showing up

Logan Kramer is a college student in Southern California but calls Austin, TX home. She studies religious studies and volunteers as a grant writer for non-profits. In her spare time she likes to travel, dance, and sew. She’s currently working her way through a bucket list of books that never seems to stop growing.

Chelsea Francis