I only have one memory of school dances and it is this: standing around in a big circle of friends, trying to look like someone who’s having fun, and hoping not to be noticed. This is the plight of all teenage girls who can’t dance, and most likely all teenagers in general. No one feels the watchful eyes of others more than insecure adolescents.
I have had many, many awkward moments in my life. They have all felt exactly like standing in that circle. I have tried to make a joke out of them. I have laughed at my shortcomings. I have tried to deflect attention away from my discomfort. But I’ve failed, each time, to arrange my face the right way. My expressions always reveal everything. I’m not a good liar.
Which is good, because I don’t want to lie. What it took me far too long to understand is that those awkward moments are some of the best moments. It has been in those moments when I’ve discovered who I am, and perhaps more importantly, have been able to share that definition of myself with others. It feels humiliating, of course, to be so open and exposed and vulnerable, but that is the stuff love is made out of. That is what makes love possible.
Two of my very dear friends got married on Saturday, and at the wedding, I danced like a fool. It’s the only way I know how to dance, and also, the only way I know how to love – foolishly, wildly, embarrassingly.
And there was a moment, surrounded by friends I had stood in circles with all those years ago, now hopping up and down on the dance floor with me, when my heart expanded infinitely. And I could see how far we had come. And I could see all that was still before us. And I was filled with love and gratitude. And I thought to myself – this is friendship.
Friendship that has withstood the test of time. Friendship that we’ve depended upon during heartbreaks and loss. Friendship that we’ve rejoiced in throughout successes and celebrations. Friendship that has survived moments of awkwardness, and sadness, and anger. Friendship that has thrived upon joy, and happiness, and love.
And I felt loved. Truly loved. Because when I dance, I am perhaps at my most ridiculous, and instead of standing on the sidelines watching and judging, my friends joined me in all of my absurdity. They loved me anyway. They loved me because I am me, because in revealing my awkwardness, I gave them the opportunity to love.
This is what friends do for one another. They allow each other to love and feel loved. They reveal themselves fully, and in doing so, give others the chance to do the same.
Before leaving the house, I sent a friend a text and asked her if she thought I should wear high heels. When she said “absolutely!” I told her that she then had to promise to laugh when I inevitably fell, to make it all feel less embarrassing. “I’ll have someone push me down next to you!” She responded. And if that’s not true friendship, I don’t know what is.
I have said it before, but I’ll say it again, and probably a million times more in my lifetime: I am so lucky to have these sweet friends of mine. I am so lucky to be loved by, and to get to love, these remarkable, amazing people. I am so lucky to get to call them my friends.
They laugh with me. They cry with me. They sit with me for hours to talk and to listen. They comfort me and they inspire me. They support me. They save me. They teach me, over and over, the definitions of beauty and grace and true, unconditional love. They dance with me. They are fools with me. They are the very best thing about this awkward little life of mine. And I couldn’t ask for more.