My friend has a friend that I’ve become friends with on social media. A lot happened in that sentence. Keep up. Anyway, I don’t know her very well, but she grew up in the church and comes from a singing family. I’m talking about mamma, daddy, grandma, sister, and cousins can all sing. When I was younger, I would visit their church and admire them in the choir doing vocal acrobatics. The notes would hit front handsprings and double tucks all through the church, sticking landings something like Simone Biles. People would be moved to shouting when she and her family opened their mouths. I never really heard her sing any solo parts but she was blending, you know? Harmonizing and such. As she got older, she started taking her dreams of being a professional singer/songwriter more seriously. When I saw her post about it on Facebook, I thought to myself oh that’s so good for her. When she said she would be developing a demo to send out to a few people in the field, I figured she had this thing pretty much figured out. All she needed to do was be found and then BAM! Instant fame.
One day, I stumbled upon a few videos of her singing. I got excited. I hadn’t heard her sing as an adult or by herself, for that matter. I looked forward to hearing her voice, solo dolo. I clicked on a random video and listened for a while. Hmmm…maybe I caught one of her kinda off videos? I decided to try another one. I clicked on the one that had better lighting. I figured she was all the way ready for this one. Had to have a good voice to match that good light right? Ehhhhh…..
Ok y’all, she doesn’t sound bad. She just doesn’t sound like the equivalent of Simone Biles catapulting off that balance beam like a movie stunt double. I mean Simone is the best in the game so it might not be fair to compare my friend to her, but I did have high expectations. She said she was sending demos. That meant she had paid for studio time. By that point, I’m assuming you’ve practiced enough in your mirror, at church, at talent shows, and in front of your opinionated azz aunties to get to a pretty good point. Before you posted on Facebook about taking yourself seriously and pursuing your dreams, you might have taken a few voice lessons and found your range. You might have recorded yourself and listened to it to be sure you sound like what you think you sound like. Have y’all ever done that? That playback does not care about your aspirations to be a professional singer. It plays back exactly what you sung into it. No autotune. No harps in the background. Nothing. Just your raggedy singing voice. I’ve had my feelings hurt like that before but it’s cool because every Mariah isn’t the Carey kind and I’m good with that.
But see that. That right there. That is what I don’t want. I don’t want to be just okay. I don’t want to be the watered down version of the thing I really want to be. I want to be brand name quality. Not Great Value. But what if I’m not good enough? What if I’m not as good as I think I am? What if I’m decent but no one notices? What if I’m the girl who doesn’t have the grades for medical school or the body type for modeling or the eye for fashion but I continue to toil away at it, not knowing when to throw in the towel or not recognizing that I’m just not good enough? Am I one of them? No but for real, am I? Answer me! Y’all play too much.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because of a few reasons that aren’t important for me to divulge here, but we all have those friends who ask you to support something they’re doing that isn’t quite up to par. They’ll call you up to ask you to support a knitting business and you’re all ready to place your order before finding out this man can’t even knit! He’ll have a whole website that gets no traffic because the little baby booties he made look like curtains. On the other hand, we probably all know someone who is a pretty talented artist but has negative five followers on Instagram and almost has to beg for orders. At what point do you take stock of your situation and decide you’re just not cut out for it? I don’t know the answer. If you do, feel free to slide in my DM’s with the wisdom.
The only thing that has comforted me is my unwavering belief that our gifts make room for us. God doesn’t equip us with talent and then set us up for failure. There are two points to be made here:
- You have to find YOUR gift. You can’t get things poppin doing the things you see other people doing because it seems to be cool or profitable or whatever. I don’t think you’ll make it past go trying to do something you were never supposed to do. That requires you to be in tune with yourself. I think it requires having a few conversations with yourself about what brings you joy, what feels natural, what you’re good at without much effort, and what excites you. The journey to identifying the thing(s) that you’re supposed to be doing with your life is not a straight line for everyone. Not all of us come out of the womb knowing what we’re supposed to be doing so we try several different things until a few of them stick. I think you’ll be valued greatly (as opposed to Great Value) if you find the thing you’re supposed to be doing.
- Success doesn’t mean popularity. It doesn’t mean wealth either. Sometimes we’re supposed to influence, inspire, or otherwise move someone with our work and that may not result in the notoriety we’re looking to get. That’s real, y’all. That’s not even on a “I’m a Christian and I’m humble and I’m a great person who doesn’t look for the attention.” No. That’s life. That’s the way that ish shakes out sometimes. You will not be recognized, praised, glorified, or paid the way you might want to be. As a matter of fact, you may get talked about in someone’s blog (now I feel bad), but if you’re walking in your purpose (and other things women say when they’re in their 30’s), you’ll feel it and it’ll feel like gold. It’ll feel like you’re greatly valued.
Like always, I’ll remind you that I don’t have life figured out. I just write this stuff to confuse y’all. Ha! That’s a joke. I write this stuff to think through it for myself. I’ve been struggling lately, kinda feeling like the Great Value version of what I want for myself. Sharing with y’all helps me feel greatly valued. Thank you. Happy holidays!