I was called a celebrity for the first time in my life today. Someone who heard my radio show the other day was apparently very impressed with me and the music I played.
Of course there was the split second where my brain attempted to go into Ego Mode, but then the portion of my brain that's cordoned off as a "Reality Check Zone" immediately reminded me that I'm anything but.
Still, it was nice to be called that, even if the credit's misplaced.
It did serve a purpose, though. It reminded me of things that I've been thinking about lately. I've actually been having an internal monologue with myself for several weeks now. It all started when I was talking to a friend about a relationship problem. We were talking about how some things hold you back and make you be less of a person than you know you can be.
And there's not just one thing that can hold a person back. It can be pretty much anything: a job, a relationship, a friendship, a habit, a mindset... anything.
I spent four years in a relationship that held me back. I don't blame her, because she's a good person at heart, and she didn't mean to. But this girl wanted me to settle down, and when I say "settle," I don't necessarily mean it as in finding a niche in life, having a family, and whatnot. I mean "settle" as in "accepting less of a life than what you could have," or "sacrificing your potential for a safe level of mediocrity." It wasn't the only part of the relationship that was holding me back. There were several things. But at the time, I just didn't realize it.
I was also held back by my previous job. Part of that had to do with said girlfriend demanding that I keep the job and not look for a new one (so as to gain longevity and supposedly stability.)
But more than any of those, I was holding MYSELF back. I can't really blame the ex or the job in anywhere near the same degree as I blame myself. Because, honestly, if I had found the drive to succeed, I'd have told them both to get lost a long time ago.
99 percent of the people in this country live in complete mediocrity and are happy with it. They're content to do what it takes to get by and little more. They ignore their potential to the point where they forget that they have it. They sit back, settle in, and accept less. As time goes by, so do they, and in the end, they die without having lived.
And of the 1 percent who are not satisfied with mediocrity, half of those are nothing more than TALK. They want a larger station in life, but they spend all their time discussing it (and often boasting about it, as though it had happened already) and never actually go about to achieve it.
The remaining 0.5 percent of America are the ones you know. The ones that actually make the world turn.
I remember having this thought when I was young: "I wonder how people can stand it not being famous?" Because my intent as a youth was to become a famous person. Growing up, I let circumstances and laziness on my part change those ambitions. It got to a point where I repeated my previous thought in tones of derision, mocking myself.
For a long time, I thought the following things about myself:
(1.) You're just not good enough to do it.
(2.) You're going to be beaten out by other talented people.
(3.) Don't sing so loud. Other people might hear you.
(4.) Hide your writing. Nobody's going to like it.
(5.) You're second best. Everyone around you is second best. And that's the way it'll always be.
It never occurred to me that the following things had happened throughout my life:
(1.) I graduated high school with a 4.0
(2.) I was published before I even finished junior high.
(3.) People were begging to hear me sing.
(4.) People (the collective noun and the magazine) read my writing.
(5.) There were folks that REALLY liked my writing.
(6.) Magazines REALLY liked my writing.
(7.) I write a blog that gets read by thousands of people each week.
(8.) I can do one radio show and have people thinking of me as a celebrity.
(9.) I once held my own writing a song with someone who has now gone on to win ACM Song of the Year.
(10.) Musicians and American Idols now contact ME to have me interview them.
There are more, but I'm not trying to brag. These are just things I realized about myself, and I am willing to bet that each of you reading out there, if you would sit down and think about it, could come up with a similar list. But these are the things that have been revealed to me, and I'm no longer satisfied with being just so mediocre.
As Mikalah Gordon from American Idol 4 told me, at some point in life, you either have to grow up and work on yourself, or die from the excruciating pain. The only option is really to move forward.
I'm here to tell you that the only thing that is keeping you from being a superstar at whatever you choose to do is yourself. If being a marketer is what you want to do, then the only reason for you not to be the most asked-for marketer in the world is sitting in your chair. If you're a singer, then the only thing keeping you from getting out there and tearing up the charts is your own drive. If you're a lawyer, the only reason you can't be Perry Mason is if you're ruling against yourself. I truly believe that. Of course there are going to be hardships and obstacles, and it will be hard not to give up and difficult to surmount them, but I believe that if you have the drive to do it, you can.
So that's my challenge to you all out there. Don't just be the best you can be at what you do now. Strive for the mountaintop. Transcend where you are. Rise above. Make sure that when the day you die comes about, you'll have actually lived your life.
Let go of those things that are holding you back, too. If it's a relationship, then you have to tell that person goodbye. You can't sacrifice who you are as a human being and what God meant for you to be on the basis of dating someone. If it's a habit, let that go too. The rest of your life is worth more than a guilty pleasure or immediate gratification. If it's a job, find another one. If you work means nothing to you in the grand scheme of things, what have you accomplished when you pass on to the next life? If it's you, let yourself go. Let go of all those negative thoughts. Let go of those fears that keep you hanging on white-knuckled, too fearful to put yourself out there, too scared to actually make a difference. Let go of the voices in your head that tell you you'll never amount to anything. Let go of those around you who downplay your importance.
Live. Waste not that precious moment called life, lest it be over before you've had a chance to make it count.