I’ve had many dreams over the years. When I was 7 years old, I had the dream of being on Annie. I tried out and didn’t get the part. But I got up on stage and belted as best I could. At the time I was terrible at singing and had never taken a dance lesson in my life. But I got on stage and gave it my best. That was the lesson. I got on stage. Years later I started writing my own songs. I loved music. But I didn’t know how to play an instrument and I couldn’t keep a tune. I could only write the lyrics. So I learned how to play the guitar. I learned music theory. I learned how to sing. God put several people in my way to help it all come together. I then moved to Nashville to pursue my dream of being a singer/songwriter.
Along the way I also had naysayers. Those who told me I wasn’t pretty enough maybe not directly, but indirectly. I was told I was too old. I had just turned 23 when I moved to Nashville. I was told I was too fat. I was 130 lbs at 5’4″. I was told shortly after I arrived that I lifted my lip like Elvis and was not worth the time to give singing lessons to. I cried in the car on the way home. All of these were from voices of authority. It was rough.
“When a voice of authority says it’s taking too long, you’re too ‘fat, old, tired, or female’ for it, or your trauma is too big… do you know what they are giving you? Permission to quit. You’re already scared, you’re already second-guessing yourself, and when someone or something comes along and speaks into that exact thing you were already questioning, you think, Yep, that’s what I thought, I give up… You do not have permission to quit!”¹
On that same car ride home though I pulled myself together. I got mad. I said, “Who does he think he is? I did not come all the way from Tulsa to Nashville and leave my family to let some jerk discourage me! I will find someone else.” And I did. I’m also pretty sure that I said something a little more colorful than jerk, but you get the idea. I went on to record three albums. I worked with some of the best musicians in Nashville. I got to go places and sing. I didn’t sell a million albums or play at the Grand Ol’ Opry (yet), but I accomplished my dreams in other ways. Despite the naysayers.
I think Rachel Hollis has it right when she says that, “This is the hard part, because I will tell you right now: nobody will ever care about your dream as much as you do.”² And it’s true.
I am glad that I didn’t let those words stop me. I’m glad that I kept pushing through. But I also now that I’m older realize that those words can hurt. They do hurt. And I think that it’s important that even if they don’t let us stop us or we move past them that we also take a moment to deal with them. Because moving past them or going on does not mean that we have dealt with it. I’m not a therapist, but what I do know for my own story is that even though I didn’t let it stop me, those words did have a way of creeping up in my narrative.
I never did feel pretty. I always felt like I was racing time and was too old. Even though almost everyone else I was around was older than me. I had let it creep in. And sometimes I think that is why I didn’t go as far as I wanted to. I’m not here talking about regrets or anything like that. I just want to offer a small snippet of advice or experience from my own journey. Today, I am very lucky, because my shame that I carried from other’s insecurities about themselves is no longer my story. I do feel pretty. I am young at heart. And just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean I can’t be the exception.
Believe in your dreams. Believe in yourself. Face challenges head on. You can’t control how people hurt you, but you can control how you respond to them in love. I pray that you are released from words spoken into you that were never supposed to be a part of your narrative.
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Vigilant Poster Girl