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Sunday, May 26
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COLUMN: Breaking Free: Sometimes, you just have to dance it out

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It was a Thursday night in mid-September. Classes were done for the day, homework was complete for the night and excitement for the weekend began to stir. It was 9 p.m. and music filled the house as the upstairs hallway was used as a dance floor.  

As I jumped up and down, hips swaying back and forth, my energy feeding off of my roommate’s and vice versa, we danced in that hallway with the booming music for an hour.  

It was within that one hour that I realized how the world around me stopped. How all the worries went away, and I danced like no one was watching as I sang my heart out with the lyrics. It was just me, my roommate, our music and our hallway.  

*** 

Dance has always been a significant part of my life. I have loved to dance ever since I was little, and I had the privilege of being on two competitive dance teams as a teenager. But the feeling of dancing on stage is different than dancing in your living room with the volume turned up and having not a care in the world if people walking past the windows can see you.  

On stage, perfection is priority. You want to internalize the music and convey emotions to the audience through your routine. The feeling is amazing, it’s fulfilling. But when dancing in your hallway, imperfection is priority. There’s no conveying emotions to the audience. There’s just releasing emotions. The feeling is freeing.  

Furthermore, in high school, I started becoming a fan of “Grey’s Anatomy.” As fellow fans may know, the character Meredith Grey is known to “dance it out” with her friends. Pure joy would light up their faces, the scene would be in slow motion. It was dreamlike.  

[Related: COLUMN: Breaking Free: 'The Way I Used To Be' tackles the stigma of sexual assault]

I could relate to these scenes, as my high school self would turn music on and turn her bedroom into a dance floor. It was self-care. A break from homework. A way to give my mind rest. A way I celebrated good news and still do.  

Sometimes, if I hung out with friends or with my brother, we would turn music on and have a little dance session. It was moments of bliss, laughter and bonding. However, it wasn’t until that Thursday night when I realized the importance of dancing it out and why people should do it too.  

*** 

It was the night of my roommate’s 21st birthday, and the day before her birthday party. We both had nothing to do, but she was gifted a new speaker and the playlist for the party needed to be tested out to ensure it was good to go.  

The speaker was turned on. She hit “play” on the playlist. The volume was all the way up. And the hallway between our bedrooms was our stage. We danced, we vogued, we hyped each other up, we laughed and sang until our legs got tired.  

In those moments, I realized how thoughts of how busy the weekend was going to be, the homework that was due Monday, and so on and so forth, slipped away. I was living in the moment. My mind was focused on the present, not worrying about the future.  

When you dance it out, it’s just you and your music. No one is there to judge you, to critique you. Serotonin is produced. Any thoughts overwhelming you are drowned out by the lyrics. You get to release any sadness, anger or stress, similar to going on a run or working out.  

And when you’re with your family or friends, their energy and your energy feed off of one another. You are all there to build each other up and bring each other joy. You and your friends are the main characters of your own dance show.  

When I dance it out, I get to be me. I get to have control of my movements and the music. It’s a moment where I can release any negative emotions. It’s a moment where the present day is the most important. It’s a reminder that the past and the future don’t need to be stressed about, because right then and there, it’s just me and my music. You don’t have to think about it. 

[Related: COLUMN: Breaking Free: The pain that never breaks]

The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed or whatever, get up, turn on your favorite music and just start dancing it out. Don’t think about it. Let the music move you, free you. Because sometimes in life, when you don’t feel like you have control of anything, you have to dance it out, because you’re in control of the music.  

Natalie Fitzgibbons (she/her) is a junior studying journalism with a minor in American Studies. She hopes to inspire people with her words and make a positive impact in people’s lives and the world.  

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