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The fame, the glory, the lights flashing as cameras record my every move. The love from the crowd, and the thrill of the stage. I used to have fantasies and dreams about having an amazing singing career. I would have endless clothes, endless jewelry, endless money, and a huge mansion on top of a hill looking over the city below me. Then, there was the school talent show.
It was a competition of the best act. A simple competition that was a tradition of my elementary school. If your act was the best, you won a gold trophy, second best, a yellow ribbon, and third place, a blue ribbon. Everyone in the entire elementary school was allowed to participate, but not very many kids have the courage to face a crowd, or be judged on their performance.
I remember I was 9 years old and in third grade when I first decided I would participate. I was extremely hesitant as to whether to perform my singing act or not. I had only performed for my parents and a few friends during the school day. They said I would definitely win, but I was pretty sure they were just being nice. I eventually decided to go for it. During the day I could hear the whispers of the class and saw how many kids had signed up for the very same talent show.
Before I performed I had to pick out the right clothing to wear, how to wear my hair, and what song I was going to sing. I found a gorgeous sequin covered dress in my closet from when I played dress-up, and put it on to picture how famous and unique I would look on the stage. I wanted to wear my hair with colored hair elastics everywhere and headbands in neon colors, but my mom said I would look better if I just wore pigtails. All I needed now was a song.
I can remember thinking long and hard about what song I wanted to sing. It couldn’t be something to slow, because I didn’t want to bore, the crowd, but I didn’t want it to be a song no one had ever heard of. I spent hours trying to decide.
When I brought this idea to my friends, they kept telling me to do whatever song I was good at, but of course that was no help to me. I just couldn’t understand why they can’t just answer my questions. Finally came up with the idea I would sing the song “America the Beautiful”. It was perfect! It showed the challenge of a tough song, and everyone knows it.
I had to practice my act if I was going to be good enough to win. I took out my favorite blue boom box and put the karaoke CD into the disc tray. I began to sing and my throat started to get dry. I was choking on every word I sang and started thinking I wasn’t good enough for the competition. I sat down on my bed as the disc kept spinning in the boom box, and I just watched as the CD kept playing. Almost as if I could stop the CD and just start over. The thoughts circled around in my head as to whether to perform or not, and as the disc stopped, I decided I would go for it.
I spent the next few days preparing for the competition. As soon as I would come home from school, I would play the CD and sing for hours at a time. I became more and more proud of myself with every time I sang that song. Then, it was time for the competition.
I was feeling extremely confident as I walked out onto the stage. The lights were shining right on to me as I thought this was my big moment. I started to sing and before I knew it, the song was over. The crowd clapped, but nothing more. I remember thinking they were going to be crazy like those concerts I watched on TV.
When all of the acts were over, they called us out onto the stage to give the awards. They gave the third place trophy to a tap-dancer in my grade. I wasn’t worried because I knew I would win the first place trophy. Then, as they gave out the second place trophy my name was called. I had come in second. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach and was let down that I didn’t win first place. They gave me my yellow ribbon, and awarded first place to a fifth grader who did a gymnastics act. The smile faded from my face as I attempted to hold back the tears that would soon rush down my face. I walked off the stage, with every step I took I felt more and more disappointed. No one congratulated me as I walked out of school that day. No one even acknowledged my existence. I tried really hard not to give up on the signing career I thought I was destined to have.
I went home and buried the ribbon in my closet with the dress-up clothes and the sequin dress I was wearing that day. I told myself there were always other competitions, and I could always try again. After a few weeks went by, I participated in a talent show for my town, and won first place out of all the other acts. I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. When I was in the car on my way home, I remember feeling like it was just another day. I was in my regular mood. No excitement or joy. I searched desperately for the feeling of accomplishment that I thought I would have. No matter how much I convinced myself I was excited, nothing happened. When I got home, I put my new trophy with my ribbon and the sequin dress.
As the days went by after that show, I realized it is impossible to become famous and be a superstar when only the people in your town know who you are. People are only famous because they know someone important, and the closest anyone will get to stardom is watching the Emmys on TV. I entered the world where every dollar I earn, I work hard for, and the world where no one will just hand me money for being who I am. I can only expect to pay the bills and watch TV, pretending, for just one day, that I don’t have to live with the burden of providing for myself.