I’ve been thinking about fame recently. Fame, celebrity, influence, significance… this is a theme that keeps popping back up in various forms. And like most things I think about, I have a lot to say about it (sorry not sorry). I can’t hash it ALL out in one post, so you’ll have to stay tuned.
But in this post, I need to get personal. So first, an Autumn origin story…
As a little girl, I was pretty shy; a quiet observer, sitting back to analyze a room before I decided who the “safe” people were. I hated being the center of attention and tended to stick with like-minded classmates (aka NOT the loud, popular kids). I was an introverted smart girl and that was just fine with me.
When I was 8 years old, I was put in a “gifted” program. One day a week, I rode a bus to a different school to go to a “special” class. This was my life from 3rd-6th grade, during those VERY crucial formative years, and the experience absolutely shaped who I became.
I loved it. And I hated it. I remember this deep sense of pride I carried around with me… I was the only kid in my school who was a part of this program. For 4 years, I was THE smart kid. Smart GIRL. I was smarter than all the boys, smarter than all the popular kids, smarter than the athletes… Being the smart girl became my identity and the thing that set me apart. It made me significant.
But sometimes being set apart feels lonely. There were mornings that I cried in the hallway, begging my teachers to just let me stay at my normal school with my friends. I felt like I didn’t fully belong anywhere. I was alone. It was a very strange dichotomy, WANTING to feel that significance, WANTING the recognition and, to be really honest, to feel the superiority… but also wishing I could just fit in and be NORMAL.
It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. My family moved when I was 14, and when I started high school in a new town with new people who didn’t know me, I realized I could be whoever I wanted. So, guess what I did? I disappeared. I chose to fit in and vanish into the crowd. Without fully realizing what I was doing, I self-sabotaged my education… I was still above average, still seen as intelligent, but nothing super special.
Teenage rebellion for me meant actively fighting against my “smart girl” label and included getting a D in 10th grade English (just cause I didn’t like the teacher), not studying one bit for the SATs (still scored in the 1300’s), and just generally not trying very hard (still graduated with a 3.7 GPA).
Do you hear that though? Do you hear the PRIDE still in there? Even in my rebellion, I still carried around that deep sense of superiority… this thought that if I DID try, I would’ve been better than everyone else.
The last year has brought a ton of introspection into my life. I’ve been doing a serious deep dive into my past, asking some hard questions and sorting out the answers. Trying to make sense of ME. It’s been a ride… from the lows of depression and anxiety and grief, to the highs of self-realization and validation and GROWTH. So, so much growth. I am not the same person I was a year ago.
Thank god for that.
And while I still have a ways to go, I understand some very important things about myself now. Little girl Autumn wanted to be significant… not popular, not the center of attention, but IMPORTANT. Respected, even. And guess what I’ve figured out? Adult Autumn wants the same damn thing.
I have squandered a large portion of my life trying to push down my own wants & desires. Trying to convince myself that mediocre is “good enough” and that wanting more than that is bad; that it is somehow selfish to want to be important; that I need to strive to be small and INsignificant. I have spent my life trying to convince myself that I didn’t want what I really wanted, that I didn’t deserve it, and that I was a bad person for wanting it in the first place.
I’m still feeling a bit shaken up by this realization. Giving myself permission to dream again has been a little scary, to be honest. Because I’m discovering that I have some big freaking dreams! They are so big that I sometimes feel silly thinking about them. My brain says, “Who do you think you are, Autumn? You’ll never BE ANYONE.” But thankfully, my internal lie detector is strong these days. FUCK OFF, LIE.
(Quick tangent… with my whole permission-to-be-myself thing I have going on, I’m not going to censor myself here. If swear words bother you, you might want to find something else to read. I’m finding my voice right now, and sometimes my voice likes to cuss. *shrug*)
So… dreams. Significance. I have no idea what it’s going to look like. That’s part of the beauty though… I am dreaming BIG and trusting that these desires have been put in me for a reason. I have a purpose; my pain has a purpose… I am starting where I’m at and seeing where life takes me. One step at a time.
My life reminds me of a scavenger hunt right now. Figure out the next clue, then move on. There’s some kind of awesome prize at the end and I am REALLY eager to find out what it is, but honestly isn’t the process the fun part?? What kind of lame ass scavenger hunt would send you straight to the prize after the first clue??
I’ve discovered a DEEP passion for helping people work through what I’ve been working through. DEEP. DEEEEEEEP. I could talk about trauma and mental health and healing and spirituality for hours. Don’t get me started. (Or do, but bring wine and snacks cause it’ll be a long night.)
These big dreams I have are centered around helping a TON of people. I want to make a difference. I want to be known as someone who can help. But that means I have to be KNOWN. That part still feels a little scary to the little girl inside who’s been trying to be a wallflower for so long.
But I’m learning that facing my fears is also where I find out who I really am. There’s a quote I read recently that keeps nudging me forward, telling me to keep putting myself out there and let life do the rest:
“Hello, fear. Thank you for being here. You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.”
I am TERRIFIED. But at the very same time, I have this incredible peace… you know, the kind that passes all understanding… I’m right where I’m supposed to be. And I’ll get to where I’m supposed to go. And I don’t know if I’ll be a famous life coach or therapist or author or speaker someday or not, but I know I don’t want to disappear into the crowd anymore.
I have a story to tell. No one else has my unique blend of life experience, personality, knowledge, pain, empathy… No one else is me. No one else can say the words I need to say. No one else can love the people I need to love, in the way that I can love them.
As scary as it is, I’m making peace with being me, and wanting to be important. Significant. Influential. But I’ve also realized an even bigger truth…
I already AM important. I matter to the people in my life. I’m already significant and influential… to my kids, to my friends and family, perhaps even to the cashier I was kind to when they were having a bad day. I don’t have to be famous to make an impact, I get to start right where I am.
I still want to change the freaking world. Someone give me a book deal and a microphone already… I’ll wait.
Note: The title of this post makes me laugh, which was the point. It’s ridiculous… Me wanting to be famous is hilarious and terrifying and SO not me. I thought about changing the title after I realized it might be taken the wrong way by all you people who don’t know me, but then I decided I don’t care.