There was an usher in our church who decided that it was time to join the choir. Her decision was based on the realization that choir leaders, unlike ushers, were in the spotlight.
Once in the choir, she was stuck swaying in the back. Dissatisfied, she sent a long message to the church choir’s whatsapp group ranting about not being given a chance to lead. She was told in the most Christian way possible that her voice was only slightly better than the croaking of a frog. She left the group, and the church.
“You can be anything you want as long as you set your mind to it.” It is a wonderfully uplifting quote. Is it true, though? Is it true that we could all potentially turn out to be Mark Zuckerberg or the late Michael Jackson or Obama? That we could all potentially create things or do things that influence countless lives? Are we all meant for the spotlight?
The answer is no. Because the truth of the matter is that the ground is not equally levelled for all of us. Our opportunities, capacities and personalities are not the same. Some people have an overflow of talent.
Others are unexceptional in every aspect of their lives. Some people have natural charism; these are the people who post plagiarized quotes on social media and get numerous likes. Others write original, creative and inspiring quotes and they barely get noticed.
Those who are in the spotlight are not the smartest or the most talented or the most hardworking people in the world. But we know their faces. Their personal lives are of great interest to us.
We watch videos of their pet snakes just being snakes. We idolize them. We read their biographies. We find that Oprah Winfrey had a traumatic childhood.
So we tell people that the reward for withstanding hardships is fortune and fame. And while it is true that sometimes hardships result in the sort of ingenuity that propels people to greatness, realistically it only happens to a handful of people. Most people endure hardships and they still live uneventful lives. They become stronger, yes, but they don’t turn into stars.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with the desire to be in a place where you don’t have to introduce yourself, if that is your definition of success. But it is also okay if you are not cut out for that particular kind of life.
You shouldn’t hold off your happiness waiting to shine. Sometimes you are just meant to be part of the general sky.
And it is okay. It is okay to find joy in attending the concerts of those in the spotlight. To be the random facebooker who uses the ingenious application created by a teenager, to connect with the world.
To be Gayle, Oprah’s less known but very supportive best friend. It is okay to sway in the back. It is enough to be alive and health.