April 9, 2013

Overcoming Awkward

Rehearsals for our musical are really coming down to the line. We're getting things down and I think it's going to be great. Today we got the choreography for the prom scene. If you have seen Dirty Dancing, you have probably seen much of our choreography.

Yes, even the hand trailing down the side of the body. Even the hand. And as a teacher at "Southern Ocean High School," my teacher love interest and I go to prom and get funky with it as all of the students do.

Let's call my love interest (in the play) Michael. Michael and I were good friends for the first part of last year. He and I were very different but texted and got along and were fairly close. Then Michael told me he had an interest in my friend "Michelle." I told him it was his choice obviously, but I didn't think it would work out. I told Michelle the same thing. My other friends and I betted on it lasting about two months.

Well, it lasted a year and about a month. They broke up over spring break. Michael and Michelle are both in the cast for the musical, and Michelle and I remain friends, however during their relationship I basically cut ties with both of them. I knew it wasn't going to end well and didn't want to have to play fixer of either of them after it was over (because I used to really like fixing people then God basically but not literally smacked me and told me to stop because I was only hurting myself.)

Much to my surprise, after little to no contact with either of them over the summer. Michael was cast as my counterpart teacher in our musical. Michelle was cast as a student. I didn't really feel good about this whole Michael thing- it was going to be really awkward at first and I was going to have to learn to like him, or at least pretend like it. This was much easier because we had been friends before, but awkward for us because thoughts of Michelle distracted both of us and kind of prevented us from acting our best. It was like a giant elephant in the room- an elephant we had to confront or move because we had to act like a couple first in order to break up.

I learned that when someone has to flirt with you on stage and later caress you and then sexydance (PG-13) with you, you first gain a mutual respect for one another and eventually start to fix or start a friendship. Over the course of growing as a person (and as an actor) and having my comfort zone smashed into the ground, I am trusting Michael not to do anything inappropriate and let his hands wander while dancing, and even am trusting him to pick me up and swing me around a little bit. I had to get over the fact that I don't like touching people or especially trusting them with myself.

I look back to yesterday especially with a laugh. We were practicing our scary swing pick up dance move- and to me it was scary. I like having my feet on a solid surface, and have never been too keen on someone picking me up. My friend Renee didn't have a partner yesterday, and she watched my face as Michael picked me up (while I had to jump) for the first time. I talked to her today, and she said the look on my face was a mixture of horror and depression. I was so scared of letting someone else keep me safe physically and so scared of trusting someone not to hurt me. But I did it. I jumped into Michael's arms despite the awkward (several times, I might add) and eventually I was okay with it. And today we did the dirty dancing dance and there wasn't even an inch between us (my dad will have a heart attack.)

I learned, especially this past week, that people can change. Michael has really grown as a person, I think, since that excited teenage boy from last year has prepared to go into the Air Force and has done what's best and gotten out of a half-hearted relationship. When I first heard they'd broken up, I thought I told you so. But I will never say that to Michelle. I value her as a person too much. I do not need to rub salt in her wound. I also do not need to put down or minimize the friendship that has grown between Michael and myself. I don't need to be dishonest. I don't need to cover anything up. I feel okay laughing when he gives me a strange look and being my normal self-critical self around him. He tells me I'm doing fine and tries to help fix what isn't perfect.

And at the end of the day I am thankful. I am thankful for both of the friendships that I have regained. I am thankful for the push by my director out of my comfort zone. I am thankful that I challenged myself. And most of all, I am so thankful that through God and his grace I have grown as a person and have overcome all of the awkward.

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