I have always wanted to be a country singer.
But being a professional music artist is something that takes a lot of time and effort, and “making” it is equal parts grind, timing and good luck. I was totally naïve growing up as to how much time, effort and grind that would take, but I did know I wanted to try, and I had a huge amount of confidence in my abilities, instilled in me from my parents, who always told me they believed in me.
It was that belief that pushed me to go outside my comfort zone and try out for singing and dance groups that intimidated me. I didn’t take private dance lessons for years like some of my neighborhood friends had. However, I really believed that if I worked hard and practiced long enough, I could probably find my way into these prestigious performing groups.
And it worked.
I was never the most talented kid in class, but what I lacked in skill I made up for in charisma. I could pick up on things fast. I was really good at mimicking others, so if a particular dance move or song seemed challenging for me, I would watch and listen and then try to imitate the other singers and dancers.
When I got a call 14 years ago on a chilly October afternoon to try out for a reality TV show, at first I was hesitant. Why would I be selected? What was so special about me? I said no at first. I was just too scared to go out and really start pursuing my dreams on a professional level, especially to have all my flaws out there for the world to judge. I was afraid of taking a chance, especially because I didn’t want the answer to be “no.” I didn’t want to fail.
But then my dad said six words that changed my mind, and the course of my life: “What have you got to lose?”
I ended up not only being hand-picked out of 72,000ish people for this reality TV show called “American Idol” but making it to the top six before being sent home. A Nashville recording contract, nationwide tour and an album soon followed.
I “made it” in every sense of the word, against all odds and against a lot of people’s opinions. I wasn’t the best singer. I wasn’t the most talented. But I had that grit, work ethic and belief in myself instilled in me from my parents that made me truly think I could do anything I set my mind to. And I tried out at the right time, at the right place, with the right people. Boy, was I lucky.
Athlete Tim Tebow, former NFL football player and Heisman Trophy winner, was recently interviewed by Stephen A. Smith about his changing course and switching from football to baseball.
“You haven’t played the sport in over a decade, your chances of success in that particular sport are limited … There are other things you could do on a football field … your chances of success seem to be greater in the sport of football than baseball, so what’s wrong with somebody looking at you and saying, ‘that’s what you should be doing'?”
“That’s fine if they look at me and say ‘that’s what he should be doing’, but they’re not me,” Tebow said. “And when are dreams based on chances? Dreams are based on something that’s in your heart that are passions that are something that you want to go try, not on chances.”
He went on to say, “a lot of people just go and do what they think they should do and live with the status quo and live by all these rules … just go accept their average 9-5 instead of striving for something. The ultimate goal isn’t to succeed or fail, the ultimate goal is to give it everything you have for something that’s on your heart — a dream — and to pursuing that.”
I absolutely love Tebow’s perspective on going for dreams. So many times I could have given up and gotten discouraged — and actually, many times I did, but I kept trying. I kept believing. And sometimes, like Tebow, my dreams changed course.
I went from having a professional music career to having four kids. I went from writing songs to writing columns. I became a director and an author. My life’s course has made many twists and turns, but I have always tried to do what Tebow has so passionately encouraged and followed my heart. And that has led me to some incredible life experiences I will be forever grateful for.
So, is it worth it to put yourself out there and pursue your dreams? Absolutely. I’ve also learned how important it is to listen to your heart if it leads you down other paths that may be different from the ones you always planned on.
Football, baseball, singing, homemaking — whatever your passion is, dream on.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is email@example.com.