I love watching people “livin’ the dream.” Watching the Food Network’s last Food Network Star, that was a popular phrase shared by the contestants and mentors as well. And really — doing what you love doing, walking the hallowed halls of Food Network, past the gods and goddesses of cuisine, travelling to places like Caesar’s Palace and restaurants that offer $1,000 ice cream sundaes — how can you not be living someone’s dream?
Television is truly a dream all its own. I watched season 6 of Face Off, and one of the episodes sent the contestants to Japan. To Japan! Just to give the prosthetic makeup artists a little bit of inspiration? They can inspire me like that any time they want.
Or Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen. Most of those contestants are animals from the start, but when they win challenges they do things like go sailing or have champagne lunch on the beach or, for the final competitors, a night in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. With a view!
I know I sound like I’m jealous — and I am. I know there are only a few that can rise to the top, creamy white and perfect. Some of it is luck, some of it talent, but a lot of it is throwing hangups and insecurities to the wind and just going for it. It’s using that innate talent that we all have and doing something with it, not being afraid to put it out there; not being afraid to fail.
I think I’ve always been afraid to put it out there because I’ve always been afraid to fail.
Our parents raise us as well as they can. Their hangups, their ignorance, seep into our growth whether we want it to or not. But their confidence, their dreams, their positive reinforcement seep into our growth as well. Cheering us on at soccer games, sitting and listening to us in choir concerts, marveling at our crayon drawings, all help us feel better about ourselves.
This is where our power as an adult comes from. Where it can be used for good or for evil.
I have always been what I consider a “nice girl.” I was picked on through middle school, but I got passed it and moved along through boyfriends and job. Married and had kids. During my lonely days I kept a journal. I wrote stories. I aged. I role played, which was impromptu writing. I kept more journals. More stories. Poetry. More writing. My parents were good to me, but they never really encouraged me to follow my dream. Maybe I should have gone to college and been an English or Writing major. But they didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the focus. To be honest, I don’t think a lot of us did that back then.
There are always a lot of winners and losers in the world. Only one person can become a Master Chef. Only one person can be the owner of the fanciest restaurant in San Francisco or Accountant of the Year.
But there are a lot of wonderful, brilliant, fun people at number two. Or three. Or seventeen. After we get over our jealousy of what others “get” (which…come on…we all feel…at least initially), we can can celebrate our love of our craft no matter where we are. We can encourage our kids and grandkids to go for what they want. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t become number one? So what?
Parents have the power to make that okay, too.
That doesn’t mean we don’t teach our kids and grandkids to compete. The working world is still a working world, and you rarely get ahead by being cute or dressing like Beverly Hills. Most successful people know what they can and cannot do, and go after what they can do. They work hard, play hard, and love hard, so when failure comes their way they have other outlets waiting for them.
I still would love to be one of the portraits hanging down the Food Network Studio Hallway, but my cooking skills would never stand up against those with more experience. No matter — I know a couple of kids who love to cook. Why not encourage them along the way? Encourage them to have fun while they hone their skills? For that matter, why not say something positive about someone’s poem or drawing or how well they hit a baseball? What have you got to lose?
I’m still working on putting myself out there creative-wise. What have I got to lose? Besides — I still have time to push J.K. Rowling off her throne and take her publishing crown.
Even if it is too small for this swollen head…