I Stopped Running from My Dreams

January 8, 2021 by No Comments

I’ve wanted to be famous since I was five years old and my parents put premium cable television in my bedroom. I would watch the Disney Channel for hours while rocking in the child-size rocking chair my grandma bought me.  One of my favorite childhood tapes is me at six years old alone with my sister in the living room and a camera on a tripod performing for an hour to an audience of one. I sang, danced, told jokes, and chanted “Gimme a smile!” as my baby sister gurgled at my buffoonery. Setting up a camera on a tripod (thanks to my wonderful artistically-minded Uncle DJ) was probably the most my parents could do to keep their sanity. I can tell they cared, because they even set up appropriate lighting for my filming session.

As the years passed, I buried my dream under academic achievements. A’s in school and certificates were concrete examples of success for me, whereas I had no role models to show me how I might succeed as a writer, a television personality, or some other sort of figure in media and entertainment. To some degree, I even ran from my dream: In 7th grade, my English teacher asked me to lead our school’s (actually outstanding) literary magazine-and I decided to be a cheerleader instead. In 9th grade, my Newspaper teacher begged me to continue taking newspaper and be an editor; I took Band instead. In college, I avoided our school newspaper, radio station, and magazine-and engulfed myself in student leadership activities. I got a glimpse of how possible my dream could be when I was accepted into David Foster Wallace’s writing class at Pomona-and he actually liked what I wrote. When critiquing my piece, he said, “There are definitely some mistakes in here. For example, your main character doesn’t have a last name but some minor characters do. But your writing is so seductive, it makes me forget all about that.” I’ll never forget that. Then, I didn’t keep in touch with him even though I had his personal phone number.

I’m not sure what the catalyst has been for me to finally pursue my dreams. Maybe it was the Reflected Best Self exercise we did in my Leadership class. Maybe it was the recession and how clear it became to me that no job is that secure-so I should just do what I want to do. Maybe it was all the interviews I did to prepare for management jobs that made me realize that I probably won’t make a great manager in Corporate America-at least not in the long term. I know that my Career Coach Lauren Murphy definitely had an impact on me this year.

I have a very clear memory of Lauren saying to me, “Kaneisha, you’ve been looking for a spotlight your whole life. First, you found that attention from making good grades in school and being a student leader. Then you graduated from college, and decided to get not one but two Masters degrees from Harvard-and now, there is no more stage. There’s just real life-and you have to figure out what you’re going to do next. If you really want to be in the spotlight, go be in the real spotlight. I know you can do it! You were made for this!”

Well, I’m doing it now-and it’s all happening so fast.  I turned in a book proposal to the most powerful man in publishing. I’ve been interviewed on Dutch TV, and will be interviewed for Japanese television tomorrow. I’ve run into celebrities who are eager to help me, and I’m moving to Los Angeles this summer.  This is literally all the joy I can stand. I see my blog as my small but important way of encouraging others to embrace their dreams. The sooner you stop running from what you really want the sooner you can stop rocking in your chair watching other people lead the life you want-and start living it yourself.

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