When I was young, I was ‘the performer child’. I sang, I danced, I choreographed, I made up skits. I would even play-role news caster and read directly from my Weekly Readers while looking at my ‘audience’ as if I was looking into a camera. I subjected my family and neighbors alike to sitting through all of these types of performances. I remember one, in particular, where my family stood watching me whirl, twirl, dance, tumble and otherwise express my most inward feelings in the form of untrained dance (I was not trained in any of these things – dance or otherwise – formally – but was taught by my friends that were). When I was done with that particular performance, my family had tears in their eyes and I honestly, at the time, thought they had been moved, emotionally, to these tears. It occurred to me only many years later, as I recalled that moment, that I am sure it was suppressed laughter that had them tearing up. They were always incredibly supportive of all of my performances – the reason it occurred to me at the time that they might have been moved by the performance. My brother and sister were 7 and 9 years older than me, respectively, so they never let on that my shows were ridiculous. There were times where my brother didn’t want to watch, but after a little pleading, he would almost always give in – very generous, really, when you consider that he was a teenage boy. But since my tap-dancing days in 5th grade – a formal class I finally had the opportunity to enroll in – performing has not been part of my life.
I have declared this year, 2010, my year of creativity. Since last year when I launched this blog and wrote my novel in November, I realized how fulfilled I feel when I make writing a mainstay in my life. So it occurred to me that exploring all of the arts would get all kinds of creative juices flowing and, ultimately, enhance my writing. I have signed up for singing classes (a life-long dream to be able to carry a tune) and a drawing class and I have other art classes in mind for later in the year. Upon considering all of these creative endeavors, part of me has wondered, where did that little performer girl go? I am not making an argument for pursuing all childhood endeavors – but I am advocating that in a balanced whole, I might have been missing out. Other than writing, which I really only picked back up in the last year, I have not had any creative outlets in my life since high school band. That seems, now, a little sad.
To be fair, if I am going to use childhood activities for a litmus test for their dream-fulfilling qualities, I have to give myself some credit because I also played a lot of ‘office’ scenarios. One of my favorites was to play bank teller – we had a square ‘window’ of sorts in our house that was cut out between the hallway that lead to my parent’s bedroom and our dining room. It was where the phone sat so that it could easily be accessed from either side – I guess it was installed before it was popular to have multiple phone jacks. This ‘hole’ made for a perfect drive up window where my friends could come and perform basic transactions, all the while I stamped out digits importantly on my mother’s adding machine and handed out receipts with authority. I would say that my interest in business-type activities played out perfectly and I remember the feeling on the first day of my first job as an accountant at Arthur Anderson, but more importantly being located on the 9th floor of a 35 floor building in the middle of an urban downtown (Houston), – it was the scene I had pictured for myself since childhood, well, after I moved on from the dream to live on a ranch and adopt all abandoned puppies in the world, and it felt like a dream come true – until I actually had to be an accountant. The performer girl did eek out eventually when I realized how much I enjoyed public speaking, and I ended up doing presentations in offices around the world. Yes, on accounting matters, ho-hum. But one takes what one can get.
It is not at all that I feel I pursued the wrong dreams – I have had a great working experience first in accounting, then later in business school and then getting a dream-job after business school when I worked for Gap Inc.. A dream job for me because I love branding, I love clothes, and I loved my roles there (mostly). With hindsight, I can also see that I loved working there because the fashion industry is full of creative people, and I learned that I work well with them. I am still not advocating that I should have gone to Julliard (I dropped out of band my junior year – the director was not devastated) or The High School for Performing Arts or that I had the talent to BE a performer, but I am simply stating that there is a side to me – a part of my whole that may have been a little too buried for a little too long, and this year I am looking to get it back. You all can tell me if my writing improves. My son will likely let me know if my drawing improves - “mom, what is that?” – and as for my singing – perhaps if it all goes well, I’ll move the singing from the shower into my backyard and invite a few neighbors.