Friday, May 11, 2007

Baby I'm a Star!

Hey, look me over
Tell me do u like what u see?
Hey, I ain't got no money
But honey I'm rich on personality
Hey, check it all out
Baby I know what it's all about
Before the night is through
U will see my point of view
Even if I have 2 scream and shout
Baby I'm a (star)
Might not know it now
Baby but I r, I'm a (star)
I don't want to stop, 'til I reach the top
Sing it (We are all a star!)

Eyes closed, on a plane somewhere over mid-America, I turn up the volume on my iPod and fall back in time to the 80's. Instantly, a flood of memories of my high school girlfriends and I singing as loudly as we could come to mind. Prince on the car radio (he was still called by his first name back then), music thumping, hearts beating in time, we'd be caught up in singing our chosen theme song. Baby, I'm a star! Might not know it now...but we knew that we were destined for more than our small town held. We knew that we were special, had Important Things ahead in life. It was our four minutes of feel good confidence, therapeutic lyrics spurring us to believe in ourselves and we could, would conquer the world. I was part of a group of self-assured, bold and decisive, comfortable in our skin kind of young women.

What happened to that girl? Nothing. Because she didn't really exist. She was a myth, or perhaps a promise. She was what I became when I let the words of a song speak to me. The unfortunate reality is that my teen years were spent feeling insecure. Inwardly, I cornered the market on teen angst. On the surface, I looked like any other teenage girl of the time, zits and all.

My home life was less than stellar, due to a parent who had finally decided to address an alcoholism issue just as I was entering high school. I'd spent years learning how to tip toe around while polishing my skills at being a human barometer. Even today I am an excellent judge of emotion, whether I'm in a room full of friends or complete strangers. It's an aptitude most children of alcoholics learn early on, simply so as not to topple the delicate balance of peace and stability by doing or saying something wrong. Never mind that the exact same words or actions were fine the day before, or would be the day after.

I spent my late teen years with a perpetual nagging feeling that I would never measure up in life. I'd never the the pretty, witty girl surrounded by perfect friends. I'd never make pots of money in a fabulous career. I'd never be scorchingly in love with someone who returned the emotion so intensely that shared glances between us could start forest fires. I'd counter these negatives with what I knew to be true: no matter what my life became, I'd be okay. It wasn't very convincing, but I clung to that belief.

Over time I learned to mask my true feelings. I was self-aware enough to realize that what I thought of as shyness was actually fear. I was scared I'd never fit in. I was terrified the people around me would suddenly come to their senses and realize that I was not worth their time or effort. My method to combat that fear was to become outgoing, extroverted. I reasoned that if I could pretend to be the Queen Social Butterfly Whom All Are Dying To Know that then perhaps no one would see the real me. I would fake it until I felt it. Or at least felt accepted.

A few decades passed. These days I can walk into a bar alone, sit down and order a drink and not feel odd or out of place. I can work a party like a politician, making small talk with anyone who crosses my path. I still have the occasional fleeting worry but am in no way insecure. Even better, I'm happy with who I've become. I even learned to own my emotions.

I put in my time at a job I like to think of as a marriage of convenience. I'm not exactly in love with my career, but it pays the bills. And while I may not be the pretty, witty girl, I do have fabulous friends. I've lost a few in recent times, much to my painful regret, but life is made fuller through change. I am thrilled to have a circle of dynamic friends. In my social set there are athletes, massage therapists, attorneys, nurses, rockstars (okay, maybe only in our group, but they are great musicians), students, doctors, computer geeks, paralegals, average joes, mommies, daddies and more. They are pretty and most definitely witty people.

Even better, I still have close girlfriends who are the sort to turn the volume up and launch into singing our current feel good total confidence song du jour. Whether it's Prince on the oldies station or anyone else, we haven't lost the essence of who we once were, those young girls with dreams as big as the sky. I don't have to book an appointment with my therapist when I'm feeling down. I simply grab my cell, dial up the chicas and ask the magic question. "Who's up for karaoke?"

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