> I Dreamed a Dream (Why Susan Boyle Matters Part II)-
Have there ever been words as poignant as those sung by Scotswoman Susan Boyle on May 30th. She returned to the song that launched her to global superstar status, “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserable. “There was a day when men were kind.”
That line in many ways encompasses a marathon seven weeks for Susan. She went from spinster recluse to celebrity of the moment. That type of fame is hard for someone who’s had time to build to it. When you’ve got no idea what fame really means, it’s a change none of us can fathom. In the final week of competition, the British tabloid medial cranked up the intensity. Stories of Susan losing her cool, and cracking up under pressure ran rampant. Keep in mind that folks like George Clooney who’ve had years of experience will lose it with the paparazzi. Those folks make a living by pushing the boundaries to get a reaction. The reaction they wanted from Susan? Prove that poor country bumpkin Boyle couldn’t hack the pressure of being a star.
For the moment we’ll ignore the discussion about this fascination with building people up only to tear them down.
The reality is that as more of Susan’s story came out, the more external forces sought to write their version of what the end should be. She’s learning disabled, doesn’t fit the model of star, and obviously needs to have that exposed to the world. As pressure builds, more and more experts chime in saying Susan has no business being exposed to that level of pressure. It’s not fair to poor little Susan.
In the mean time the experts continued to refuse to listen to what they were being told. Forty seven year old Boyle was insisting on continuing with the competition. Yes there were ups and downs. In the end, she made the decision to keep going.
How often have you faced something that scared you? Something that seemed impossible to overcome, something that required you to reach far and dig deep. In order to move to the next level in your life, facing down that fear is mandatory. Without facing it, you never give yourself the chance to grow. Fear is a warning sign. It’s not a stop sign.
Susan had a choice. Back away from a stressful situation and return to status quo. Or face down fears and anxieties, and reach for her dream.
The experts encouraged Susan to quit. It’s too much, too hard, and she would not be capable of dealing with the stress. The experts know what’s best for poor little Susan. You should listen to the experts in all things.
On the other side of the fence, you have a different group of experts. The producers of “Brittan’s Got Talent” are experts in helping individuals chase dreams. Yes there’s profit involved. That doesn’t negate their expertise. One of the more compelling moments of the competition came in the first group of auditions when Jamie Pugh took the stage. As he stood before the judges, Simon Cowell looked at him and stated, “you’re terrified aren’t you?” Jamie nodded, then with encouragement went on to perform beautifully. He has stage fright so bad that he’d never performed for anyone before. How’s that for first time, in front of a huge studio audience? At the end of the performance, Simon looked at him and said, “I think I know what this means to you…learn to believe in yourself.”
Good television? Sure. Good dream building? Absolutely.
Susan decided to chase her dream. She arrived on stage for the finale, poised, polished and delivered an amazing performance. Standing ovation from the crowd, the judges, and from Simon high praise for showing her critics they were wrong.
Minutes later, Susan learned she had not won the competition. With grace and poise, she acknowledged the winners. Around the globe, headlines blared, “Boyle Loses, Dream Shattered!”
At the beginning of the competition, Susan was asked what the dream was. Her reply, “to be a professional singer.” It wasn’t win the competition. It wasn’t be a global celebrity. It was being a professional (meaning getting paid for it) singer. That’s always been the dream. It was the dream as she scraped together money for a demo tape. It was the dream as she nursed her mother through her final years. It was the dream from childhood.
For a moment, the dream got blurred out by others expectations. What they failed to realize is that regardless of the outcome of competition, her dream is well on its way to reality. Susan will have her chance to sing for her supper. She will odds on one day sing for the Queen. Odds are good she will sell several albums and prove to naysayers that you are never too old to give up on your dreams.
Susan has dreamed for years of being on stage, center spotlight, sharing her talent. That’s the dream, her dream. Which has now moved from the land of dream to achieved goal. Yes she’s encountered some bumps. That’s what it takes to achieve big goals and big dreams. You have to face down fears. You have to face down those who say CAN’T, when in the back of your mind you hear a whispered can. Each and every expert who said Susan didn’t belong in the competition did her a disservice. Growth doesn’t happen in moments of comfort. It happens in moments of fear and pain. It happens when you learn to reach for something, even with the possibility that you may not reach it.
As of current reports, one reason for Susan’s breakdown post competition was fear. She’d bought into the rhetoric that in order to succeed she needed to win. Once she removed herself from the spotlight, she could be reassured that no matter what, the dream was still alive.
Winning is not the only path to success. Winning is just one direction. It’s not even a promise that you will be successful. True success in life comes from working daily at something that brings you true happiness. For Susan, that something is performing.
Susan Boyle shows us a couple things. First, you have to keep focused on your vision and your goals. Second, understand what your dream really means. Listen to it. Is it something that’s dragged you through life? I can promise that a smaller pant size isn’t what’s gotten you from point A to point B at every stage of your life. Look hard. I can promise you that winning a championship, while its great, won’t move you through your life. Why? Because it’s a single point event. Look again. Listen hard. Find that dream, buried under dust and debris. Polish it off. Now ask yourself, is it worth it to chase that dream? If the answer is yes, then do it. Don’t stop. Regardless of outcome, the journey will take you to places you can’t imagine.
It will never be too late to dream a dream. It will never be too much to fight for that dream. You are worth it, no matter what you look like, no matter what the world may think of you on first glance.
That’s why Susan Boyle matters.