For the first ten years of my life, my goal was to just fit in. When you have a lot of creativity and ideas in a small-minded town, you can never really belong, especially if you want to pursue a career in musical theater. I hid who I was from my friends just to be popular, which, when you are ten, is the most important goal for a girl. I let my friends’ influence everything I did or didn’t do, which is nothing I’m proud of.
I was shy and impressionable growing up, the only people I could be myself around were my family. I was a completely different person around my so-called “friends,” molding myself to every trend, fad and craze they found themselves involved in. I was a puppet, and they were pulling the strings. I quit dance for soccer. My favorite color changed from pink to blue. I listened to terrible saccharine pop music. Back then I would blame my friends for disguising myself as an average dime-a-dozen tween, but the truth is it was my fault. I didn’t have to stick to the system and jump on the bandwagon to everything my friends’ did. I could stop it, and eventually, I did.
I saw an audition notice for a local summer production of The Wizard of Oz on a bulletin board in my school, after volleyball practice, another shameful attempt and becoming popular. And it was just fate-suddenly I didn’t care what my friends’ were doing and I auditioned on my own accord. That’s when my love of theater began. When school got back in session, I realized what little popularity I had dwindled and being myself meant being an outcast from who I thought were my friends, but it didn’t matter. I finally found something I was good at and loved. I was no longer the pale, skinny, tag-along of the popular crowd. When I was onstage, it didn’t matter. I believed in something I never thought was possible-Myself.
So I’ll never be a member of the in crowd, I know now that’s not the life for me. I have made much better accomplishments, such as landing a lead role in my school play and getting into a regional choir. I am no longer a puppet, but a real girl.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.