I wanted to be many things when I was younger. Like most little girls, I first wanted to be a Disney princess. I acted out my favorites like Sleeping Beauty acting graceful as I pranced about the house.
Around the time I was eight, I moved on to more realistic goals. I wanted to be a singer. I remember loving to sing along with my favorite Disney songs and gospel classics in my bedroom. When I first discovered music that I liked, new possibilities of musical achievements came to me. My hopes were quickly dashed however when I decided to make my debut.
I wanted to sing a Mary Mary song in front of my entire elementary school for a talent show of sorts. I think it was “Shackles,” a song I absolutely adored at the time and thought I could sing though it was way outside my vocal range. When it was first announced in class there was no hesitation. Yes, please, sign me up. I want to show the world what I could do. I practiced a bit at home singing it every now and then thinking I had all the words down for it after one or two trial runs. When practice sessions were offered at school, I never took it. I didn’t feel comfortable practicing in front of other people. That should have been my first warning.
As I was steeling myself up for the performance, my heart was racing. I began to have doubts. Did I really know the words? Did I practice as much as I should have? I told myself to keep my eyes above the crowds. Look at the walls. I began to wonder about the effectiveness of the audience underwear trick.
I was called to the front. The microphone was set before me. There were eyes everywhere. I looked at the walls. Eyes were there too. Staring back at me. Freezing my blood. Closing my throat. The music came loud and intimidating. I heard my cue and…
The shackles held me down. I couldn’t dance. I couldn’t praise Him. I stuttered and mumbled into the mic. The man in the sound booth held a hand up to his ear.
Needless to say, my dreams of becoming a singer left through the muttering of my soft vocals. I would never get up the courage to sing again in front of large crowds of people. That may explain why I can never sing too loudly in front of anyone outside my family.(As I walk down the street, I mouth the words of my favorite song which probably doesn’t make me look like any less like a mental case).
Before then, I imagined what it would be like being a singer or anyone famous. To be that glamorous somebody with a voice of melted honey. With this picture in my mind, my notions of fame seem doomed from the start. My voice is far from being that velvety sweet.
Now at the ripe old age of twenty, I wonder what my younger self would think of me. She would probably be disappointed.
At least, I imagined she would be. Most of my childhood memories set up my future self to be this daring individual. One who wasn’t afraid to take risk. Someone who would go on adventures and seek new possibilities. One who would eventually grow up to be a race car driver living that fast and furious life down the track. I waved at myself in my mind’s eye with a wink and a smile.
Instead, I grew up to be a crab.
I stayed true to my astrological sign and found ultimate refuge in the world of books, music, and movies. I rather bury myself in other people’s worlds than go to parties and all that socializing nonsense. A good day for me is when I can write something substantial and more true to myself than I could ever be in real life in front of real people. I feel more deeply for characters than most people in real life. I daydream. I write. I read. And drink tea.
That’s not to say that I don’t like interacting with people. I have spectacular adventures with a close knit circle of friends and family. My adventures may not be so daring as racing each other down a hot track but its enough for me. A trip to the zoo looking at an adorable squirrel monkey doing laps behind the glass or talking to friends about characters in a certain television show for hours upon hours is enough to fill my socializing quota. It doesn’t take much to have an adventure.
As I explain this to younger me she would probably look up in disbelief. She would shake her head and sigh, “This cannot be. This cannot be. Where is the exciting me?”
Well, I’m sorry little one. That’s just not me. That I can never be.
(When I imagine this conversation, it’s all in rhyme of course).
Even at this point in my life, there are things I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a writer. Perhaps a publisher? I want to be confident. I want to say what I mean and mean what I say. I want to speak eloquently without seeing my voice fly away from me as my thoughts falter. I’m still plagued by those awful stutters and the terrible mumbling. I want to be more open with people. I hate belittling my own interests because I think the other person in the conversation is just not interested. Ultimately, I wish I cared a bit less.
I’ve wanted to be this person for the last several years of my life and I would be remiss to say I haven’t made progress. I no longer avoid people (as much) for fear of making a complete idiot of myself in some predictable manner. Speaking in front of crowds is no longer as big an issue as it once was (though I still have a bit of the mumble). In the end, however, I can’t help but think myself that incurious crab that hides in its shell.
I wonder what my future self would think of me. Will she lament my current state? Will she be the person I wish to become? Or, will she be that woman sitting on the couch shaking her head in regret, “I wish I did this. I should have done that.”
(That’s a sad mental picture. Maybe I’ll make my future self happier by turning on Once Upon a Time as she goes through her agonizing self reflection. Then she would be able to also ponder the fate of Emma’s and Hooks’ relationship. But depending on how far in the future I’m looking…)
It seems I can’t please either of my other selves.