I always wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I love being on a stage, facing a crowd of people waiting for me to take the microphone and sing; the lights shining on me, everything else in the room dark.
"Think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. How did you answer the question of what you wanted to be when you grew up? The specific answer you gave may have been off the mark, but the underlying impulse was not. You may have known more about who you were then than you do now."
Susan Cain, QUIET
Singing is one way I act outside of my introversion because of my love for music and melodic words.
I've changed my mind about being a rockstar.
I met my husband, Mat, when I won a local talent contest. He was a studio producer and we spent a few brief sessions recording a two-song demo to gauge how well we worked together. The studio was a farming agency for Capitol Records in Los Angeles. Should Mat give his boss the thumbs up, I'd land a contract, a complete album with a music video, and they'd ship me off to California.
I wanted that contract. I wanted to be a rockstar.
Mat broke it to me one weekend that his boss didn't want to sign a contract with me. He told me then how he felt about me, and soon after we began dating. I had free access to the studio whenever I wanted. Mat and I would spend hours late into the night writing songs and layering our voices in the sound booth.
I didn't want to give up my dream. A co-worker and I formed a small band, and we'd practice cover songs and play open mic nights.
Years later, as a pastor's wife, Mat and I led worship together often. It may be the single thing we miss about church. It was the sweetest expression of our relationship; music is what brought us together.
The truth about the contract.
Five years into our marriage - 10 into our relationship - Mat made a startling confession. Turns out, his boss did want to sign a contract with me all those years ago when we first met. Mat liked me so much though, he didn't want me to move off to California. And he knew the industry. He didn't want me to get chewed up and spit out. I was "too nice", he said.
Incredulous, I teased him mercilessly. He changed the entire course of my life! It wasn't his choice to make, but he made it. Of course, knowing now what I didn't know then, I'm perfectly happy with the life that followed his decision. Had I "made it" in my early twenties, my introverted tendencies would've surfaced with a vengeance. I'd no doubt be the rock star suffering public breakdowns with a personality pointing to the opposite of what I'd represent on stage.
I'm thankful Mat knew me so well back then - that he saw the core of who I am - when I was deep into forgetting myself.
The dream is alive and well.
I always wanted to be a rockstar because it was the kind of attention I was okay with - to be appreciated and acknowledged for something that came naturally to me. I didn't have voice lessons; I taught myself how to sing - thanks to Mariah and Whitney - and I wasn't afraid to sing in front of my friends, the choir director at church, or a mall full of shoppers. Those small, brave steps in pursuit of my dream led me to the stage and ultimately led me to my husband.
My dream even spoke to what would be my deepest struggle in life: caring too much about what people think of me. In the spotlight, on display, opinions and assumptions run rampant. As a writer, I experience the same. But I continue the pursuit of my natural abilities because that was the heart of my dream. I've only ever wanted to do things that are an extension of who I am, and I struggle when I feel I'm doing something outside of myself.
My life is a creative life. And that's the underlying impulse that has always driven me.
I don't have to be famous to be the kind of rockstar I want to be.