This post definitely falls under the “unvarnished” heading that is part of the subtitle of my Blog. This will not be pretty nor shiny nor anything I’m proud to admit. And if I’m alone in this, I will feel even worse. But here goes…
I am jealous of a 20-year-old girl.
I recently found out that this young lady, just coming out of college where she majored in theater, is being strongly considered for a role at a very prestigious theater here in New York. I am not surprised in the least, by the way. She undoubtedly deserves it and will be a shining star in the play if she lands the gig. She is a very good actress and she is breathtakingly beautiful (like crazy-town beautiful, like it’s hard not to hate her because she’s beautiful). She is kind and gentle and sweet and to top it all off, she’s uber smart. Truly, I’ve always admired her. When she was a little girl, I used to lovingly say to her, “I wanna be like you when I grow up.” She’d shyly giggle and smile.
Oh, how I adored her. Still do.
But when I see her now, in her glorious prime, I feel flooded with envy as I think about where my own youth went. Oh my goodness, I just started crying as I typed that. I had an acute feeling of grief come over me as I thought about it. And all the logic in the world doesn’t squelch this gnawing feeling of envy.
The irony is, I wouldn’t want to be 20 years old again as those were some rocky times. My life is so much richer now. My years have given me wisdom, love, growth, and incredible joy.
Perhaps one of the reasons I feel this way — and this is just now occurring to me -– is because I somehow imagine myself her age again, but with the life experience I have now. You know, like if I could go back in time knowing what I know now. If I had her looks, her smarts, her talent, and MY life wisdom…geez…I’d be unstoppable.
But it doesn’t work that way. If I were 20 again, I’d be just that. 20 again.
Here’s the rub…Even though those younger years brought struggles I’d never want to repeat, there are definitely things I’m gravely missing from that time – the energy, eternal hope, and buoyed optimism that ruled that stage of my life. The days when I believed everything was possible, before all of life’s realities started attacking my spirit, leaving me jaded and angry.
If you think I’m sunny and positive now? Holy crap! You should have known me THEN!
And I wonder, too, how I’ll feel if she doesn’t book the job! A part of me thinks I’ll feel better! I mean, it’ll sooth my insecurities knowing that even she doesn’t book a gig. It will teach her — and her mother who places her daughter on an even higher pedestal than I do — that maybe it’s not so easy, even for her…that this business is really hard. Really, really hard. And you get knocked down in ways that make you wonder if you’ll ever get back up.
But in my heart, I want her succeed. Just like her mom and her grandparents and all the other adult figures in her life, I don’t want her to feel disappointment or pain EVER! We all know that is impossible, but we pray for it to be true for the younger people in our lives nonetheless, don’t we?
For now, I will tap into my most-est, sunny place and hope this girl books the job. And if she does, I will be cheering her on come opening night. I will clap very loudly, hoot, holler, give her a standing ovation and smile so widely that well…my crow’s feet deepen even further.
And to her (and to my own long gone 20-year-old self, who worried so about achieving and succeeding in this career) I offer as advice the lyrics to one of my favorite songs:
Life is just a bowl of cherries
Don’t take it serious, it’s too mysterious
You work, you save, you worry so
But you can’t take your dough when you go, go, go
So keep repeating it’s the berries
The strongest oak must fall
The sweet things in life, to you were just loaned
So how can you lose what you’ve never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries
So live and laugh at it all
Watch this video to see Judy Garland sing those glorious words from “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”: