By Dana Gornall
I wasn’t always an introvert.
There is a running joke in my family that when I was small, my dad just had to point to a designated space, call it a stage and I would gleefully run and stand in the middle of it and dance. Sure, I was shy by nature, but there was a part of me that craved at least a small fraction of the limelight.
I have a memory that is cloudy—like one of those flashback montage’s you see in a sitcom—but the feeling left from it is still there and ever so clear. While on a family vacation, we attended a show with pretty Hawaiian girls (or at least girls that looked Hawaiian) that stood on a stage with grass skirts, dancing and swinging their hips and arms.
I was enthralled. I wanted to be there on that stage and dance.
And then that’s when something magical happened, or at least seemed magical at the time in the eyes of a four year old. One of those pretty girls came off the stage and made her way right through the audience to our row, and extended her hand to my dad. She was inviting him on stage to dance with them!
With all of my excited and overflowing being that exists in most four years olds, I begged my mom to go up on stage with them. But she didn’t seem to understand what I wanted or maybe I wasn’t being clear, because I was only four after all. And the next thing I knew, my dad was there on stage with the pretty Hawaiian girls and I was still there in the audience—watching.
That moment has never left my memory. It was quick and subtle, just a blip in the scheme of my life growing up. It wasn’t a tragic or horrible event and certainly wasn’t anything that was done with malice or ill intent, yet it has left me with a mark of regret that burns somewhere in my heart.
A good friend of mine brought up the topic of regret yesterday. It’s the beginning of a new year—a time of re-evaluating priorities, looking ahead to the future and examining all of what we have done in the past.
I thought long and hard about the things I have done and the things I have said and wondered where my regrets may lie.
Reaching deep down in my heart, I looked for them—the stories I lived out every day, the people I brought into my life and the ones I gently walked away from. Images flew through my mind, and as they did I paused at some and picked them up. Do I regret that choice? Would I have done this differently? If given the opportunity, would I go back and and change something?
The answer wasn’t clear. The truth is, all of these people—all of these stories—have made me the person I am today. It’s as if each one is a drop of paint swirled in the water and I am standing here looking down at all of the beautiful colors. I could no more cleanly remove one without ruining the whole amazing, swirling, fantastic picture.
And so looking back and looking forward, I think maybe it’s time to not worry about regrets. Maybe instead of standing there looking down at all the pretty colors and trying to figure out which ones belong and which ones don’t, it’s time to accept it for what it is.
In 2014, I gained a bit of confidence. It was a small bit, but it was a piece of me that was new. I held it up to the light and turned it around and tried to figure out where it was going to fit or if I even wanted it. Because like anything that new, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable and sometimes a bit too tight, at first.
Too many times I have felt that feeling of excitement and overflowing being—of feeling enthralled—only to not make myself clear or not speak up. So maybe 2015 will be the time to find a place for that new bit of confidence. To place it in one of the spots that had once been left broken and begin to rebuild.
Maybe it’s time to dance.
“She dances to the songs in her head, speaks with the rhythm of her heart and loves from the depths of her soul.”
~ Dean Jackson