Dance Brought Happiness Back…
I don’t think I really understood how much I loved to dance until the pandemic hit. I had always danced, whether it was in the living room doing interpretive dance to my dad’s CDs as a child or in classes at the rec center. In high school I was on the Hip Hop Team and the Country Western Dance Team. By college, I had to put dance on the back burner and prioritize my future career.
Then the pandemic happened and I had to completely re-evaluate what was happening in my life and what my priorities were.
Exercise causes us to release endorphins, which make us feel better. Mix that with a good beat and you’ve got the most fun and mood-enhancing workout you could ever ask for. But how do you find the energy to dance when the outside world doesn’t provide much reason to celebrate?
When the fall semester started this year I had already transitioned to virtual classes during the spring semester, so a fully virtual fall semester wouldn’t be a challenge, I thought. But it was so much worse than I had expected.
I had two virtual internships that took up most of my weekdays and I was also taking classes while trying to figure out my new normal as a college senior.
And instead of living alone as I had the previous year, I now had two roommates. We had different ideas about what was safe to do during a pandemic. There were arguments. At the start of the semester, I was still optimistic, but that changed. I had three meltdowns in one week. If I wasn’t crying, I was watching TV or I was sleeping. I didn’t feel like myself.
I had to figure out what to do to get back to the Molly I knew.
It was then that I realized I hadn’t been dancing. I had fallen so deep into self-pity that I didn’t even let myself celebrate the small things.
So, I looked up some “Just Dance” YouTube videos and “Dance Cardio videos” and added mediation to the mix. Managing my life during the pandemic started becoming less chaotic, less stressful, and a lot more enjoyable.
This “new normal” may be temporary, but building the new habits I’ve gained from reclaiming my inner dancer will help me maintain better life-work-balance even after the pandemic subsides.
One thing is sure: dance brought happiness back to my life after the pandemic seemed to have taken it all away.
Copyright © 2021 Molly Carpenter
Molly Carpenter is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin studying, Radio, Television, and Film and trying to figure out what post-grad life during a pandemic will look like. She also recently became a certified Zumba Instructor so she can bring the joy of dancing to others.