I was twelve, short, and a heck of a lot curvier than most girls in seventh grade. It was never more apparent, or more embarrassing than when all the girls in my class dressed in the mandatory gym outfit for PE.
I wasn’t particularly good at any sport. Hey, my nick name was “Little Peewee.” But my height or lack of athletic abilities didn’t bother me—not that much. I didn’t want to run faster, or get the most points in the basketball game. But there was one thing I did want.
I wanted to become a member of gymnastic team. I’d seen the Olympics on television a year or so before. Like me, a lot of those girls were “peewees” and I’d started dreaming and practicing.
And when I got to Jr. High and saw the gymnastic team do their routines during the pep rallies, I felt a calling. For the first time in my life, I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would do cartwheels and flips and someday I’d appear on TV.
I knew that the mandatory requirements to get into the gymnastics’ team were to do the splits, a cartwheel, a backbend, and a backwards flip that we called a backwards walkover. For weeks, I practiced endlessly. For weeks, I watched the gym team perform. And little by little I watched my dream slip away. I had a huge disadvantage. Two of them, actually.
Boobs. Yup, unlike the girls performing at those pep rallies, I had boobs. Big boobs. I hated them! You see, I’d started developing early and kids had made fun of me. And when I realized the girls jumping up and down on the gym team didn’t have boobs bouncing to and fro like mine, I pretty much accepted that I wouldn’t make the team.
Oh, I still tried out, but my name wasn’t called at the end of the class. The failure stung like the dickens. The death of a dream hurts, even when you’re twelve. I ran home that day, locked my door to my bedroom and had myself one good, long pity cry. As sad as it is, because of that failure, I never tried out for anything ever again in school.
No one said I didn’t make the team because of my boobs, but deep down I believed it. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t so much because having size C-cup ta-tas made me less aerodynamic, (which I seriously thought back then) it was because I wouldn’t run as fast as I needed to, or bounce as high as the other girls for fear people might be looking at my boobs.
Ahh, but this blog isn’t about boobs, bouncing or otherwise. It’s about dreams, it’s about the hurdles we face and have to overcome to make those dreams come true. It just so happens that my hurdles at the young age of twelve were my boobs.
I can tell you that the only other dream I wanted so badly as becoming a gymnast was the one that came years later: to become a writer. Thankfully, my boobs were not in anyway going to hold me back. But I still had hurdles. I had the same hurdles, freaking big hurdles (bigger than C-cups) that every writer faces.
The hurdle of learning craft, applying craft, getting an agent and editor to believe in you. And the biggest hurdle all writers face . . . dealing with rejection. How do you continue to believe in yourself when those rejections start knocking on your door? One by one, they arrive, each threatening to tear down the little self-confidence you managed to build.
Then on top of those hurdles I had another. While I had a wild imagination, I was diagnosed as learning disabled in the third grade. For me, just getting words on paper wasn’t as easy as most.
Maybe because I was older, maybe because I wanted it more, maybe because my determination had finally managed to catch up with my boobs, but I faced my hurdles a little differently. I learned to take chances, to put myself out there, to stop worrying what other might think and to just follow my heart.
On May 26th, my fourth novel with Dorchester, Gotcha!, will hit the stands. And I just finished my fifth novel, Divorced, Desperate and Deceived, which is due out in November 09.
Recently, a non-writing friend who knew how hard I’d worked to make these dreams come true asked me, “How did you know you would make it?”
I looked at her and answered honestly, “I didn’t know.”
It was true. I didn’t know I would make it. Oh, hell yes, there was a lot of blind faith driving me. Still, down deep, I knew there were never any guarantees. But what I did know with certainty was that I wasn’t quitting. I wasn’t going to half-ass this dream the way I’d half-assed my attempt at the tryouts for the gymnastic team. No embarrassment of boobs, no fear of failure, no lack of trying, was going to hold me back.
Recently, Toni McGee Causey, (http://www.tonimcgeecausey.com/ ). a wonderful writer of the humorous Bobbie Faye series from St. Martins wrote a blog about giving up on your dreams, and I quote her, “You quit when you want something else more. You quit when you have another dream that means more to you.”
During all the rejections, all the years of near misses, I never found another dream I wanted as badly as I wanted to be a writer. You can bet that I still locked myself in my bedroom and had a few pity cries. But when I’d cried myself out, I pulled my big girl panties up and went back at it.
Amazingly, I never stopped loving writing? I wonder if this isn’t part of the key to being successful at accomplishing our dreams: finding something you are so passionate about that you just won’t stop.
What is your dream? What is it that you want to accomplish? Do you love doing it? Are you working at it? Or are you half-assing it?
Is your lack of enthusiasm due to fear of failure, or a lack of self-confidence? Or is it that you are dreaming of something different? I hope all of you are working toward your dreams and I hope none of you will let something as insignificant as a little booby-trap stop you from going after what you want.