Listen to the voices that matter
Tonight I watched my daughter go out on stage in the Nutcracker, which is something that she has wanted to do since she was 2 years old. As I saw her go out, with such determination, delight and excitement, I could not help but be overwhelmed with emotion as I thought of the work, support, and love it takes to achieve your dreams. It takes conviction and determination. It also takes believing in yourself, and not listening to the voices that don’t matter.
In contemplating this, I could not help but think about my own dreams. Had I done what I wanted to do? Had I achieved the goals that I had for myself?
Ever since I was little, I have always had a deep desire to know what I was going to be when I grew up. One of the main things my mom remembers about my childhood was me always trying to figure out my mission in life. This seemed to be the topic of conversation whenever we had quiet time together. I remember long car rides with my head on her lap (those were simpler times) and trying to figure out my future.
In my search for my purpose, I would naturally look to my current interests. At a young age, I did ballet and tap. I was shy in person, but the stage changed me. I came alive on that stage. I loved the adrenaline, the lights, the music, and the attention. Everything about it was amazing. When thinking about my future, at times, the stage seemed an obvious choice for me, since this was a place I felt like I could let go and be seen, where I could come out of my shell, if only for the time my number lasted.
Let’s just say that I developed early. My body grew a little faster than my mind. While I was still young, yet not quite so young physically, I mentioned to someone that I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. Their response was simply, you can’t be. You don’t have the body for it.
In that moment, and with that one comment (funny enough, I dont even remember who said it) my dreams of being a prima ballerina died. My aspirations of being on the stage with an adoring crowd vanished. All because I listened to the voices that didn’t matter.
Fast forward to high school. I once again found a place in front of the crowds, but in a different way. I began singing. I wouldn’t say I was a singer. I never had any formal training. Maybe I wasn’t even that good, but I was on the stage; with the lights, with the music, and a captive audience.
I sang in my high school choir. I sang with the school orchestra on a tour. I sang in a small group at graduation. My favorite was when I sang with some of my best friends in an open air concert night out on the football field. We were a real band with guitars, drums, and a cheering crowd.
The night was what dreams are made of. There was a slight breeze on a warm night. The lights were mesmerizing. Our makeup was on point. I think. We were young. Getting ready for the night was perfect, and exciting, as we got together to crimp our hair, (yay 90’s) because it all had to be perfect. It was such a momentous occasion, that we even had a photo shoot, because we were practically famous. The energy was electric. There were maybe a couple hundred people, but for all i could care it felt like thousands. We were living our dreams, and it was the only place that I wanted to be.
Before you go thinking I was some kind of super star, let me just say that I grew up in a small town. This means I probably didn’t need all that much talent to get my spot on the stage, all I needed was the desire to sign up. But because of the excitement that being on that stage brought me, I just knew I wanted to study music. Not only because of singing, but because music in general was one of the things I knew I did decently well.
My senior year, my mom mentioned this to my orchestra director. I was getting ready to apply to schools, and I was trying to figure out, yet again, what I wanted to be when I grew up. Surprisingly, to me, he told her I probably wasn’t good enough to study music. That broke. My. heart. and shattered my dreams. This same man, who had put me in front of thousands of people all over the state, singing all by myself, with a full orchestra behind me said I was not good enough. Another dream died that day.
Looking back, I don’t think being a ballerina or a musician would have been what I was destined to do anyway. I think that, while it would have been fun, I think maybe God had different things in mind for me. I can definitely see how God has helped me to accomplish the things that I need to accomplish in life. I just wish that I would have been brave enough to make those decisions on my own instead of listening to other people make those decisions for me.
As I watched my daughter on that stage tonight, I could not help but wonder if I am going to be able to teach her the skills necessary to protect her from the voices that don’t matter. I wonder if she will have the strength to look for the voices that tell her that she can and ignore the ones that try to tear her down. I can only hope that she doesn’t come across these voices, like I did, but she probably will. I just hope that when she does she will be strong enough to label them for what they are and not allow them to crush her dreams, so she can go on accomplishing one goal after another.