When I was a little girl, I truly believed with all my heart that I was special. Not just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill-special…but, really, really special. I dreamed someone would discover me in the far corner of Midwest rural Iowa, take me somewhere exotic (like New York City or Hollywood) and make me famous. There, I would rule the world with my talents and everyone would adore me just like the characters in the hundreds of books I read every year to escape. I was going to live in a big house with a maid and a butler where I would swim in a large, heart-shaped swimming pool in my basement. Money wouldn’t be an issue, and I’d pay for my kids’ college and new cars in cash. In my mind, I was going places.
But, alas…it was all just the vivid imagination of a bullied, obnoxious (albeit talented) little girl.
There was the dream of starring in my own Broadway production just like Liza Minnelli, singing at the Grand Ole Opry like Dolly Parton and acting in my own TV show like the girls on Facts of Life. Truth be told, I wasn’t very good at acting. In fact, I was awful. But, the singing…oh the singing! THAT I was good at! It was the one thing I did better than almost anyone I knew. It was the one thing in my life that gave me joy. When I sang, I wasn’t the obnoxious little blonde girl with ADHD…I was the girl who could garner massive applause at every school musical. It made me feel special. It was the thing that was going to make me famous one day.
Then I got older. I still had dreams of being “somebody”, but the reality of cruel life stepped in. I eventually stopped singing and resigned to the fact that I would never live up to my own expectations. I was disappointed in myself for not following my dreams – for not chasing them down at full sprint and wrestling them to the ground. But, mostly I was disappointed because I knew deep down that I was capable of so much more. I was mad at myself for, lack of a better term, giving up on being extraordinary.
I was my own worst enemy. At times, I even wonder if I have been subconsciously sabotaging my life in order to avoid failure. Let’s face it…if you never try, you can’t fail.
The reality is that it was never the fame I was looking for but rather the eventual success during the climb. There are moments when I think if I had taken a different path at 18, 19 or even 20 years old, my life would be vastly different, but then I realize that my life isn’t really so bad. Everyone morning I open my eyes. And let’s face it…any morning you open your eyes, you’re doing pretty damn good! I have a wonderful husband, great kids and a slightly overweight Calico cat with a slight overbite that plays fetch. (Can’t beat a fetch playing cat!) All in all, it’s a pretty good life.
If you think about it, it’s the little things that get you through the day, but it’s the big things that keep you grounded. For me, the big thing is a renewed belief in…well, me! There was more to me when I was a child than just my ability to sing every lead in the Church’s annual Christmas pageant. I had words. Even back then, I wrote, and I wrote a lot. Short stories, diary entries, poems, and I even wrote a few books, complete with chapter titles and all. Putting pen to paper gave me an inner peace that was equally as satisfying as the singing – it just didn’t have the same type of audience. Throughout the years, it hasn’t changed. Writing still gives me a sense of accomplishment each and every time I walk away from the laptop. It’s a way to escape the reality that life has handed to me on a tarnished, silver platter.
At times, I wish I was able to make a full-time living at it. After all, there are people out there who are able to get up every morning, walk six feet to their computer, drink cup after cup of caffeine and write…and get paid for it. Am I jealous? Absolutely! Do I get a touch of envy whenever I see that another debut author has signed a deal and in twelve short months will see their completed work on bookstore shelves? Little bit. But, I’m nothing if not realistic. Most authors still have a “real” day job and are unable to make a living with just their writing. Most authors will NEVER garner the kind of recognition that Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins have in their lifetime. Even armed with that knowledge, I still want to be a published author.
After all these years, I’m still searching for that extraordinary life that I was destined for. Perhaps it can finally be found in one of my novels when a bullied, obnoxious (albeit talented) little girl picks it out from the ocean of others on the library shelf and for one blissful afternoon, I can bring a smile to her face.