As a child, fame and celebrity fascinated me. I bought Tiger Beat and Sweet 16 magazines as early as nine years old. Once I began getting CDs of my favorite artists, I checked to see if they thanked God in the credits. MTV’s TRL was my jam, and if I wasn’t home to watch it, I would record it on VHS to watch later.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I spent time performing for all my imaginary friends who happened to be famous people. I had my sights set to become the next Britney Spears. When I realized she was a better singer, I decided I would be her backup dancer. A few injuries later, acting seemed my last option to be a performer. Theatre in high school led me to pursue theatre in college. And after visiting LA while in college, I decided it was the city for me. The fame! The status! The over priced stores I would never be able to afford! My sights were set, and I couldn’t wait to begin my own journey down the boulevard of broken dreams.
The day after I graduated from Baylor University with my acting degree, I packed all of my belongings and left Waco, TX. I was going to be an actress. I worked hard the last four years to learn all I could about acting, made a plan for the future, and high tailed it west, ready to conquer the city. “Firework” by Katy Perry was my theme song. I was a firework, and everyone was about to see me, love me, and cast me. I was going to change the world!
Except, that’s not what happened. It turns out everyone in LA thinks they’re a firework too, and somehow ten steps ahead of me. I’ve lived in this city for five years with barely anything to show for it, in terms of acting. I see many people 10, 20 years older than me who are in the same boat. This whole acting-is-my-everything thing has turned into a great disappointment.
After wrestling with the anger, fear, and guilt that all inevitably come with giving up, I decided to take a break from pursuing my dream, maybe indefinitely. The more I saw how achieving the dream didn’t bring satisfaction, how striving after the dream ran me into the ground, and how my lack of success affected my own perception of myself and God, I realized it was no longer a healthy pursuit for me. It was the hardest decision of my life, but after much prayer and reflection, I let go.
I wish I could say that letting go has brought freedom, that somehow I feel closer to God, that I have faith that he’s got something better for me around the corner. But the truth is, I don’t feel those things. In fact, I feel stuck. Not lost, just stuck. I’ve come to a point in my short time on earth where I don’t know what I’m doing next. And for someone who has had dreams and goals her whole life, it’s a scary place to be.
My love for Los Angeles hasn’t changed. In fact, it has deepened. That little girl who used to pray for celebrities to come to salvation is still passionately in love with the people in this city, famous or not. I’ve spent a couple of years babysitting many different families, rich and not so rich, Emmy winners with big houses and those struggling to find the next job living in apartments. To think that I’m helping raise the next generation of Angelinos is a pretty cool, even though it wasn’t what I had in mind when I moved to LA, nor is it something I want to do for the rest of my life.
I’m at a place where I feel God is challenging me to “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to believe that meant as long as I loved Jesus, everything else I wanted would fall into place. I would be an actress with two Oscars and a big house! Now that those things haven’t come to fruition, I wonder if what that verse is really saying is when I delight myself in the Lord, he will be the desire of my heart, and he will give himself to me. Dreams or no dreams, plans or no plans, I belong to him. I pray I will believe he is enough, and life is fulfilling just because I have him.