Around the age of 10, I was attending our church school (as I'd done since kindergarten), as well as going to church on Wednesday nights. Well, it ended up being the same message during chapel during the day as it was that night. I wasn't getting as much out of it the second time around, so my mom ended up talking to the drama director about getting me involved with their program. Another friend and I decided to start going, and I instantly fell in love. You also have to remember that Hilary Duff was HUGE around this time; she was one of my biggest inspirations and someone I admired, so I thought it was exciting that just for a couple hours, I could feel like Hilary Duff in the acting realm. Acting just somehow felt so natural to me, which is strange. Or maybe it's just that it was easier or more comfortable to pretend to be someone else. Someone who knew exactly what to say all the time and had a response to every conversation she was involved in. It was a chance for me to shine and be outspoken, but as someone else. I knew what to say ahead of time, I knew exactly what to do, since everything was scripted. Life was always so unpredictable and I never seemed to know what to say. I was involved in many skits and activities with that for a few years, and also had several lead roles in school plays in elementary and high school, such as Beth in Little Women (which I had never wanted anything more than to play in my 17 years of living). Being on stage gave me such a rush and helped me create closer relationships with the other stage and crew working on the plays. Those are some of my most favorite memories of high school..Period.
I still continued singing; joining the worship team in jr. hi, joining choir and advanced choirs in high school, as well as the worship team. During that time, I also wanted to start getting involved in church more and decided to join the Christmas choir every year. Over the course of my first year doing it, we became like a family. And I guess being an only child, I always love those group activities; sharing in an experience bigger than yourself for God's glory and all of the obstacles you overcome along the way. But, it also gave me a chance to use my talents and gifts that God had given to me. As I grew closer to those members from the choir, I started thinking about joining the worship team. But, being shy and quiet, I was hesitant, because I just felt awkward and new situations terrified me. After doing a lot of thinking, some praying and have a few nudges from other people around the church, I decided to go for it. That was really one of the greatest experiences I had for venturing out on my own. I learned so much about what it meant for the show to go on, even in the midst of craziness or if something went wrong. But, more than that, I truly learned what it meant to put God first in all I do, and I fell in love with music even more. Everyone's heart was so in tune with God, and being around them made me want that closer relationship with God. Ultimately, being so involved with the worship team and meeting others, encouraged me to get involved with young adults, which took place during my first year of college. Through that, I was able to meet some of the best girls I've ever known. They inspired me in my walk with God and being bold to go after the dreams I had. I could be my absolute self with them and they held me accountable in my actions, which was something I needed. It was during that time that I really started getting to know God, as well as myself. I found true joy and started growing in my confidence. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, and that was something I had longed for forever. I felt at peace. I could walk into a room and not feel anxious about what was going to happen next or all of the things on my to do list. Getting involved at church completely changed everything for me. It gave me a new direction, a clearer vision for my life and the way I wanted to live.
Everyone at school thought I would end up on American Idol or would end up in Nashville with the singing thing, but I don't think my family was on board with that. I tried out for American Idol online a couple times, but it never worked out. Until high school ended, I continued living with my crazy daydreams. And then college came and I realized, it was time to start getting serious about a career. Everything else was nothing but a pipe dream, and it was time to move on. I would still be able to sing at church, and that would be fun and would be serving God. After about a year or two of being on the worship team at church, I started feeling comfortable. Only a little too comfortable. It felt like it was time to move on to something that would give me a bit more of a leadership role. The youth had announced that they were wanting to get a few young adults to help out in their department, as well as mixing the two groups together for the worship team. It would give the young adults a chance to mentor the younger ones, and I was really excited about that. I made the cut after auditions and things were off to a wonderful start. Everyone seemed pumped and ready to go, but that quickly started fading out. People weren't showing up every week and I just felt out of place. I was having a harder time picking up on the parts, and let's just say I was way too sensitive for my own good. I started missing practices and my heart just wasn't in it, at least not the way I wanted it to be, and I eventually decided to pull out. I ultimately came to the conclusion that singing was not for me anymore and it was time to give that up. I was getting ready to graduate from my community college, and I was in a time of transition. I was confused about what to do next and kept thinking I would get involved in another area, and while I tried a few other volunteer positions, I never committed to any certain group. I've tried a couple young adult groups, but I feel like I've still always come up with excuses as to why I can't keep up with it, but now, I feel my heart longing for that relationship and community with fellow believers again. I also feel God pulling me back to singing again...My first love. I'm not sure where that will take me, but it's something I'm really looking forward to doing again, because I've missed it more than I ever realized.
Writing is something I've always been good at, and was something else that I felt like just came naturally. But, I never really saw it as more than a way to get out what I wanted to say, without the pressure of an audience or made my school life easier. It was always just something I did for me, to remember days that were shared with my grandparents, weird dreams I had or what happened at school, whether it was in a cute diary or simply on binder paper. English was always my favorite and best subject in school, but I was always writing, even outside of the classroom. I would write stories with fictional characters with goals and dreams bigger than themselves. One of my deepest goals or aspirations was to be published author, but I guess I just never saw it as a career for making an actual living. I've just started admitting to myself recently that one of my deepest dreams, one that I've rarely ever talked about is to write a book. And as I would read, whether a children's book back in the day or one of my more recent reads, I'd think 'how cool would it be to have my name on a book with my words and stories inside the pages?'
However, God often has other plans for our lives that what we imagined, but it is always for the best.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
So, none of the crazy daydreams came to fruition. I've never seen my name on a poster outside of a movie theater and I've never sold-out stadiums...At least not yet. And that's okay.
I've realized that for a long time, I've wrapped my identity in what I do -- singing, acting, writing and all of the accomplishments that have come with those. Finding myself away from all of that is a bit tricky, and this thought occurred to me the other day, 'when what I do is becoming more important than who I am, it's time to reevaluate a few things in my life.' So, really...That's where I'm at. Sometimes I tend to get tunnel vision and forget why I'm doing what I'm doing.
I just graduated college with my bachelors degree in communications; emphasis in journalism and a minor in children's literature, as my dream has shifted to being a music reporter in Nashville. Whatever I end up doing, that's where I belong. Journalism was always my backup plan if I was never discovered while walking down the streets in LA and by at least seventh grade, I knew it was going to be my major. Like I said, God often has different plans for your life, and sometimes you take different paths than you initially imagined. Right now, I'm entering yet another new phase in my life. The world is wide open to me at this point and I'm being faced with real life decisions that I've never thought much about before - jobs, saving up to buy a car, someday moving out, etc. It's a brand new world that I'm looking at, and it's terrifying, but it's exciting, because I'm taking those first real, yet final steps to get where I'm meant to be. Right now I'm working in the public affairs office at my alma mater, but as of now, it's just temporary. I'm also writing for several publications in town, including two of our magazines and a business journal. I'm definitely making progress in the communication field, but I'm still a long way from where I want to be. But, you have to start somewhere right? And right now, it's about cutting myself some slack. Putting pressure on yourself might help to some degree, but it can also tend to stress you out for no reason. It's about finding a balance.
I feel like at this point in my life, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. During my teen years, I questioned that a lot and felt like I was missing out on where I should've been. But, I didn't. If anything, I gained from those experiences. Now, I get to be whoever I want to be. Who God has called me to be. Away from the things I do and away from my passions, my likes and dislikes, but rather who I am as His child. I want to keep working toward the goal of journalism, but like I said before, God can take you to some pretty unexpected places and sometimes in the craziest, most unimaginable ways. So, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and praying for God's ultimate plan.
Until then, I'm just enjoying the journey...