Q: My problem is somewhat unique. I'm a very pretty 14-year-old, and my problem has me very depressed.
Ever since I was 10 years old, I have been longing to be a professional singer.
Recently I went to a concert starring one of my favorite entertainers. About a week before the concert, I bought his new album. Every day, when my parents were at work and my little brother had gone out to play, I'd line some pillows on the sofa and pretend they were an audience, turn on the stereo and pretend that I was with his group.
Finally, Friday night came, and I thought I'd forget all my problems and enjoy the concert. I didn't. As soon as the group came on stage, I got chill-bumps and I almost cried because I couldn't be up there.
Almost every night, I think of how I'd look and feel on stage.
I often try to picture myself leading a normal, boring life--finishing high school, going to college and being a teacher or something along that line. But for the life of me, I can't see myself being something I'm not made for. What I really want to do is to make people laugh and cry with music.
I've heard so many people say that it's not an easy business, and that you have to be able to handle rejection. That's okay, too. I've handled rejection all my life. All I need is a chance. If I can't have that, I might as well be dead! Please help.
A: If there is one thing that the wish to become a star is not, it is unique.
Neither is being pretty at the age of 14, nor even feeling discouraged at that age because one is not a star. You may rest your mind about all that.
Probably you are aware that Miss Manners is not in the business of giving "chances" to potential stars of any description; she, for her part, is aware that yours is not exactly an etiquette problem. Nevertheless, there you are, like a pillow on a sofa, so she will give you what plumping she can.
The people who told you that performing is not an easy business, and that one has to be able to handle rejection when aspiring to it, are correct. Miss Manners only wonders that they neglected to mention that in order to succeed in the entertainment business, one should be entertaining.
It is not reasonable to expect people to pay money to watch someone whose chief characteristic is the desire to be watched. Depressed and self-absorbed teen-agers can be readily observed for free.
The best thing in your letter is the desire you express "to make people laugh and cry with music." Why don't you work on that? All you have to learn is music, what makes people laugh and cry, and how to produce these effects.
It will not help to sit and cry for yourself while the very people you most admire are performing, instead of using the opportunity to study what it is that they do that makes you and others admire them.
It will not help to dismiss normal life as boring, since it is the very people who lead those lives whom you will need to learn to please.
It will not help to eschew education. One reason is that the more you know, the more you have to offer others. Another is that teaching, which does not appeal to you, is nevertheless a profession that involves skillful performing, and the best chance you have now of daily observing what commands attention and what loses it.
And the chief one, which your advisers also neglected to mention, is that all performers who expect to eat (Miss Manners knows some dancers who don't) must have other marketable skills to exercise while they are handling rejection and wishing they were dead.