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Don't sit out on the dance of your life
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Carmen Herbert and Raquel Burr do an ugly pose at the photo booth at the "Glitter and Groove" charity event sponsored by influencer Chelsi Rasmussen from "A Good Enough You." - photo by Carmen Rasmusen Herbert

My little sister called me a few weeks ago and announced we would be going to an influencer charity event for one of my sweet friends.

“I volunteered us to work at the ‘glitter bar,’ where we’ll be embellishing girls' faces as they come in,” she said. “It’s a dance party and the theme is ‘glitter and groove.’”

I asked her where in the world she got the idea that I would be qualified — or eager — to glue rhinestones on a bunch of strangers' faces, and she just said, “Come on, it’ll be fun!” Reluctantly, I agreed.

But I made one thing very clear: I would not be dancing. The whole idea of trying to look cool in front of girls who have a significant social media following made me feel uneasy. It sort of felt like high school all over again.

The night of the event arrived, and just to prove I was serious about the no dancing comment, I wore big comfy Ugg boots on my feet — very un-danceable shoes. My sister and I sat down at the little table with a rainbow of shimmery jewels sparkling up at us from tiny trays and soon had a line of girls waiting to be bedazzled.

It was surprisingly fun coming up with pretty designs to decorate the partygoers’ cheeks, eyes and foreheads. We laughed and talked and drank raspberry Dr. Peppers as old-school music blared from the speakers in the other room. Every so often, a group of girls would emerge from the dance hall, sweaty and smiling, and take their picture at the photo booth. They all looked like they were having a good time.

After a break in action, my little sis said, “OK. Time to do each other’s faces.”

“What do you want?” I asked her.

“A mustache,” she replied.

“What?” I laughed. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, and you should get one too,” she said. “It’ll be funny. I don’t care about looking a certain way to try to impress anyone.”

So we each took turns carefully gluing tiny crystals in handlebar and swashbuckler shapes on our upper lips, which was difficult because we kept laughing so hard. Then feeling even sillier, we ran over to the photo booth and, instead of posing to look pretty, we made the most hideous faces we could think of. When we saw our photo, we laughed even harder.

“Let’s go dance!” my sister said. And I don’t know if it was the rhinestone ‘stache or the Dr. Pepper that suddenly made me feel so wild and free, but I found myself nodding yes.

Arm in arm, my sister in her big wool sweater and I in my black Ugg boots, we strutted onto that dance floor, crystal facial “hair” shimmering under the disco ball light, and let loose as only moms who rarely get a night out can. We sang and shimmied and shook our groove things. We were wild and weird and wacky, and, once people realized we weren’t being serious or remotely sexy with our dance moves, they either joined in on the goofiness or politely boogied on. One girl came up to us and yelled, "I want to dance with the ugly dancers! And I mean that in the best of ways!"

We didn’t stop until the last song, and as the lights slowly turned back on, we took a picture of our faces, glistening and not so glittery anymore. I couldn’t believe it, but I actually had fun — no, I had a blast.

Sometimes old feelings from my "American Idol" days creep in, and I feel as if I’m being judged by those I look up to or want to be like. I don’t like feeling like that. I don’t think anyone does. But one thing my parents — especially my dad, from whom we inherited our amazing dance moves — taught us is that sometimes dancing offbeat isn’t a bad thing. When you don’t take yourself too seriously, others feel safe to do the same. Because who are we really trying to impress, anyway?

I don’t want people to look at me or what I’m doing, or what I have, and feel they should be doing or getting or becoming the same thing in the same way. I never want people to feel they aren’t enough just as they are when they are around me. I want to inspire others to be their best selves because they see me being my best self. I want people to feel better about their lives when they are around me. Maybe that’s why I love making people laugh. Being silly helps me connect to others. It’s my way of saying, “You’re safe. Just be you.”

Next time you’re in a situation where you feel nervous or uncomfortable because you’re afraid of what others will think of you, I hope you mentally put on your bedazzled mustache, or tiara, or whatever it is that makes you feel brave, and get out on the dance floor. In the words of singer Lee Ann Womack, “when you get the choice to sit it out or dance …”

I hope you dance.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family. Her email is
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