I’m from Texas and I grew up hating country music.
Yes, I admit it. My parents hated country, loved rock n roll, and so raised me accordingly to their likes. As I grew older, I never got into country, and even now, though I know some major country hits, I still won’t ever turn to a country radio station.
So it’s not crazy to say that I rarely go to country bars and never learned to two-step until I was in my early 20s, and even now, I’m still learning.
The entire culture of country music has always, probably not surprising, made me uncomfortable.
For one, I never know the words to country songs which I hate, because though I am not a good singer, I like to sing. Secondly, I never owned a pair of boots, the bejeweled pants, or a cowboy hat (though I do have two now).
Lastly, I felt uncomfortable at country bars because I didn’t know how to two-step. I love to dance and not knowing how to dance to country music kind of put a damper on my confidence. Then when I tried to learn, I couldn’t even get the most basic part of the dance – the two-step! (Don’t get me started on half step country dancing…)
I could learn a salsa or tango in an hour but a simple two-step stumped me!
So when I went to country bars with friends, I usually did so unwillingly. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t know the songs, didn’t dress how everyone else did, and I lacked the simple two-step rhythm.
Moreover, I am sad to say that I went into the bars with many assumptions. I made assumptions about people who like country music, the types of people who would be found at country bars. I believed they would be a homogenous crowd of individuals, one in which I wouldn’t fit in ethnically, culturally, or stylistically.
Everything about country made me uncomfortable. Everything.
I don’t feel uncomfortable at country bars anymore.
I began to finally pick up the two-step rhythm and I met dancing partners who gave me good tips and advice. I quickly realized that I am pretty good at spins which has built up my confidence and overall comfort with country music.
Better yet, I’ve realized that my assumptions about country dancers and listeners were (mostly) false. I just went to a country club in Dallas and saw individuals of all races, ages, sizes, and styles! There was the bad ass guy who had dread locks and gages, who was killing it with his girlfriend on the floor (seriously they were amazing)! One of the guys I danced with may be considered “overweight” by society’s standards but he was a bad ass dancer and I don’t think I’ve ever danced as well with anyone as I had with him.
There were rocker looking dudes with tattoos, punk girls with pink hair, Latinas, African Americans, Asians, Indians, jazz dancers, a guy with Down Syndrome, 80-year-old men with bedazzled shirts, lesbian couples, and so much more. The diversity was beyond amazing!
My discomfort with country music and bars was something that I had created in my mind and for years it held me back from having fun.
This last time I went to a country bar, I finally threw away all of my “uncomfortable thoughts.”
Because of that, I danced with quite a good amount of guys who all had different, yet fun, styles. I even got flipped upside down for the first time! Yes!
There will come a time in your life where you will find yourself uncomfortable, where you will find yourself someplace new (or the possibility of going somewhere new), where things are different from what you are used to. Or you might find yourself presented with a chance to go someplace or do something you’ve never done before.
You can let your fear and discomfort and assumptions hold you back for years like I did. Learn from my experience and throw them out the door — now.
Trust me, life will be more fun, exciting, and fulfilling if you just two-step right on past your discomfort.
Featured photo by Adam Cohn via Flickr