Tap dance or swing?

December 1, 2009

One of my exes used to talk about how people “dance.” Not in the “I hope you dance” sense.

What he really meant was how they perform for an audience.

How they tap-dance around topics. By pulling back what they really believe.

Or how they perform to shape an image of themselves. Or to keep from offending.

Dancing, as he used it, implies holding back who you really are.

There’s a fine line there.

To be totally congruent, you have to be yourself.

You must be willing to put yourself on the line.

To take risks.

To fall on your face.

To get pushback from others.

To hit their hot buttons inadvertently.

To piss them off, even if you don’t mean to.

You can’t do it gratuitously, either. It has to be a real part of who you are.

If your intent is pure, it’s probably not fatal. But it can be uncomfortable.


Sometimes people go off half-cocked when you’re being yourself. They react without thinking.

That’s just who they are. They take offense, umbrage even, when none was intended.

They haven’t given the other person the benefit of the doubt.

Because that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it?

The truth of it is that most of the time, people don’t mean any harm. Or offense.


Tap dancing is too regimented for me. I much prefer the joyful uninhibited nature of the old school swing.

So I definitely step in it with people from time to time.

Once in a while it’s with malicious intent. (Hey, at least I admit it!) But usually, it’s not.

Most of the time, I don’t even know that I have.

Other times I know immediately.


Tap dancing is strenuous. It’s hard.

Sometimes you don’t remember the steps.

Or the steps change.

Or you take them before the audience is ready.

It’s too much trouble.

Me? I’ll swing.

Any day.

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