In 7th grade, I made a list of 64 goals I wanted to achieve in my life. Some were big (Win an Oscar, a Tony, and a Grammy) and some not so big (Read Gone with the Wind). After having a fabulous experience checking one SUPER item off, I decided to keep at it and achieve as many of my 7th grade goals as possible.
I’ve had a lot of fun checking items off my 7th Grade Life List. Ok, maybe reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X wasn’t FUN, but it was enlightening. And while I still have plans to mark some more off the list (I’m coming for you Harlem Globetrotters!), I think it’s time to face a basic fact.
Some items will go unchecked.
Some are impossible. I am never going to sing with Whitney Houston (#2). Sure, I could game the system and just sing with someone named Whitney Houston but that’s not the point. My 7th Grade Self who unapologetically sang "I Will Always Love You" on the bus ride home wanted to sing with THE Whitney and tragically she is gone forever.
I’m never going to be on People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful AND Intriguing List (#17). First off, they don’t even put out the Most Intriguing People list anymore. I suppose the Most Beautiful is still achievable but not sure there’s much I can do to actively achieve that one. I think I’ll settle for being on my husband’s most beautiful list instead.
I’ve also missed my chance to be a Merit Scholar (#61).
However, other items – while technically possible – are just not going to happen.
While I’m willing to entertain a scenario in which I record the most amazing audiobook and win a Grammy or participate in a documentary that wins an Oscar, I am never going to win a Tony (#1). Is participating in a Market House Theatre production on my list of things to try? Definitely! But I’m never going to move to New York City and make it on Broadway.
I’m also never going to walk on a Paris runway (#12). A runway model I am not … and never will be. It’s just that simple.
I am never going to sing at the Hollywood Bowl (#49) or have my own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (#51). I will never have a gold album (#58) or host the Oscars (#64).
And you know what? I’m fine with that.
Those items reflect the dreams of a little girl who thought the actors and actresses she idolized lived the best possible version of life. Like many 7th graders before and since, I believed that fame and accolades made you happy.
I don’t remember the exact moment I realized that a career in the entertainment industry wasn’t for me. I do remember realizing in high school that I did not enjoy acting like someone else – that what I most enjoyed was being fully and completely myself. I also remember realizing that what I most admired (and envied) about actors and actresses wasn’t their long hours on a sound stage or complete loss of privacy, but rather their influence.
They spoke and people listened and THAT was something I could get behind. It just took a very long time to realize there was another way besides the casting couch.
Don’t get me wrong. I still LOVE all things pop culture. I love great writing and acting and storytelling. If Lena Dunham was to call and ask me to come hold a boom mike on Girls, I would abandon my family in a hot minute (kidding… sort of). However, I have no real desire to participate. The role of spectator suits me just fine.
One of my favorite truths is “You can do anything you want. You just can’t do everything you want.”
It is a fundamental truth of adulthood. 7th Grade Sarah wanted to be famous. However, as I grew up, there were other things I wanted more. I wanted to spend time with my friends instead of at auditions. I wanted to go to Transy. I wanted to marry Nicholas. I wanted to move to D.C. I wanted to have children.
After all, I wouldn’t trade Amos for an Emmy. I wouldn’t give up walking the streets of Paducah in fall for a Paris runway. I wouldn’t miss Sunday night dinners with my parents and grandmother to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the end, I like to think 7th Grade Sarah would agree.
What childhood dreams have you abandoned willingly?