How I Learned to Open Up

May 21, 2017

We finally arrived. We had been driving for over an hour looking for the house that the party was at, and we had finally found it. It was much smaller than I had expected it to be, and the two massive red doors at the front of the house gave off a very menacing tone to me. My friends, Ricky and Kasper, had both been waiting for this moment for the past two weeks, and they were finally going to get what they had long awaited for. They also both knew how much I hated parties, yet they still forced me to come with. They said they wanted to try and get me to come out of my shell, but I’m pretty sure they just wanted a free ride. Both of them were the type of people who loved parties, but me? Not so much. You see, I was a 16 year old sophomore boy who knew little to nothing about socializing, was extremely scrawny, and wasn’t very fit. Oh, and by not very fit, I mean REALLY not fit. Like, I’d be out of breath just walking to my pantry to grab a snack. Needless to say, I was extremely unhealthy, but I was not overweight at all, so it looked like I was fit. Oh, and of course we couldn’t enter the house yet due to the fact that we still had to find a place to park.

“Why didn’t we just use a GPS?” Ricky asked.
“Because,” I said, “I know how to find my way around here.”
“Barely,” He responded, “we’re like fifty minutes late.”

We were actually about 46 minutes late, but that’s besides the point. The truth is, I didn’t wanna go to the party, so I was taking up as much time as I could while driving there in order to avoid it as long as possible. I knew there was going to be a ton of people I didn’t know at this party, and that I would probably have a lot of awkward experiences with these people, too. However, the worst part of it all was that there would be dancing, lots and lots of it, and god, I hated dancing. I just didn’t understand its appeal, you know? Like, who would willingly want to writhe around on a dance floor for no apparent reason other than the fact that everybody else there is doing it. Also, I’m terrible at dancing, but of course someone who hates dancing as much as I do isn’t going to be good at it.

“Are you sure you guys want to go to here?” I asked, “We can easily just go back to my house and hang out instead if you guys want.”
“What do you mean, man, we just got here.” Kasper replied. “We can’t leave now.”
“Damn it.” I thought to myself, “Why do they want to go to this stupid party anyway? We barely even know the host.” Well, I barely knew the host, whereas Kasper and Ricky were both great friends with John. Anyway, we found a nice parking spot that was about two blocks away from the party and started to head over. The whole time we were walking there I could only think about how terrible this night was going to be. Luckily, my friends were there to help me through it.

“So,” I asked, “How many people are supposed to be at this place anyway?”
“Oh man.” Ricky replied, “Easily sixty people, maybe even seventy. You never know with John because he always throws some big ass ragers.”

“Sixty to seventy?” I thought, “How can that many people even fit in a house that size?” I had anticipated that this party was going to be big, but I didn’t realize just how big that truly meant. When I had first been invited by John, I felt special. I thought I was one of maybe ten or fifteen people who had been invited, but now that I heard that there was supposed to be sixty to seventy people there, I didn’t quite feel the same way. As we reached his front porch, I couldn’t help thinking about how the big red doors reminded me of the gates of hell, as if they represented my entrance into eternal damnation and torture, a. There was also a surprisingly small amount of noise coming from behind the door, considering the DJ that they got supposedly only played the loudest music at max volume. We knocked on the front door. Tap, tap, tap. After a few seconds of waiting, the door swung open and out popped John.

“What’s up guys?”

“Oh, not much,” Kasper answered, “Just a bit late, that’s all.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” John said, “What took you guys so long anyway?”
“Well, Cody here thought he was too good for GPS, but evidently that’s not true...” Ricky replied.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” I squeaked, “I thought I knew my way around here better than I did.”
“Oh, don’t be sorry.” John responded, “We all mess up sometimes. Anyway, come on in and make yourselves at home, everyone is downstairs”

“Oh, so that’s why the sound was so quiet from behind the door,” I thought, “The DJ is downstairs.” We stepped inside and headed down the stairs. As we descended, the music grew louder and louder until it became too deafening to hear someone screaming at you from three feet away. As we reached the bottom of the staircase, my friends almost immediately ran into the dance, leaving me behind.

That’s when I saw just how massive the party was. When I first saw how many people were there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There had to be at least a hundred people there from the looks of it, but maybe my eyes were deceiving me. Regardless, I knew that I was not going to have any fun here unless I found someone who I already knew and could talk to. I looked across the room, desperate to see at least one person I recognized, but everyone fastly flew from front to back, flailing about on the dance floor, making them all unrecognizable. All I remember about those first few moments downstairs was that the first song the DJ was playing was some new Kanye West song that had just come out, and  how I hated it. That’s another thing I hated about dancing and parties in general, they always played new music that never sounded any good to me, which made it hard to dance to. After a while of looking on the dance floor for someone I recognized, I noticed all the people on the outskirts of the party who were leaning against the wall away from the dancing. For a second I thought these people were like me and hated dancing too, but after a closer look I saw that they were all sweating and were probably just taking a break from it. Luckily, I saw a friend.

“Jacob,” I thought to myself as my eyes fell upon an old friend of mine, “Thank god for Jacob.” I no longer knew him that well anymore, but I still saw him as my lord and savior from everything going on around me. Had it not been for him, I don’t think I would have had any fun that night considering the only other people I knew at the party were Kasper, Ricky, and John.

“Hey Jacob, how’s it going?” I inquired.
“Oh, hey Cody,” he screamed back, “I’m doing pretty good, how about you?”

“Yeah, I’m doing pretty well myself,” I answered, “Thanks for asking.” The music was so loud that I could barely hear him from only two feet away. As I continued to talk to him I realized that he wasn’t sweating at all. I started to get excited thinking I may have found someone who hated dancing as much as I do. I decided to ask him about it.

“So, why aren’t you dancing?” I asked, “Do you not like to?”
“No, I actually love dancing. However, my bum leg here makes it a lot harder to do it.” He said as he lifted his leg up to show me his cast.
“Oh, sorry about that,” I stated, “I didn’t realize.”
“Don’t be sorry,” he said, “However, I’m sort of wondering the same thing about you, why aren’t you out there dancing?”
“Dancing isn’t really my thing,” I replied, “Plus, I doubt I would be any good at it.”
“Well, have you ever even tried it?” He inquired.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t tried to dance before. Sure, I had seen other people dancing at times, but I had never tried it myself. I started to think that maybe I wouldn’t even be that bad at dancing. Maybe I just had to try it out for once.

“No, I actually haven’t,” I responded, “But I doubt I’d be any good at it anyway.”

“You doubt you’d be any good at it?” he repeated, “What does that matter, most people here aren’t good at dancing either, just look around. In fact, they would probably think you’re weirder if you DID know how to dance, since I doubt any of them do.”

I looked around the room and slowly began to realize that he was right. No one here did know how to dance, but that didn’t matter to them. What mattered was whether or not they were having fun, and they sure looked like they were having fun. I turned back to Jacob to ask him one last question.

“Isn’t it embarrassing to flail around like that? How do they do it?” I asked.

“They just flat out don’t care what people may think of them,” he replied. I decided to give dancing a chance, but as I started to turn around to walk out on the dance floor, Jacob yelled one more thing at me. “Don’t be embarrassed of anything you do out there, just relax a little bit and let loose.”

I thanked him and then went to the dance floor, wading my way through the sea of bodies until I found Ricky and Kasper. When they saw me there on the dance floor, they must’ve thought they were high. And who knows, maybe they were.

“What are you doing out here?” Kasper asked, “I thought you hated dancing?”
“I guess I had a change of heart,” I replied.
“Well, I sure am glad that you did,” Ricky said, “Now, let’s have some fun!”

I had some trouble figuring out what to do with my body at the beginning, but after watching Kasper and Ricky for awhile, I finally let loose. I started doing every dance move I could think of. I even did the sprinkler for pete’s sake. Yet, somehow, I didn’t feel any embarrassment, only happiness. I finally realized that you have to stop caring about people’s opinions of you and just enjoy yourself. That party was the most fun I’d had in years, and I still thank Jacob whenever I can for helping me through it all.

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