Carla: I had hoped I’d have a new job today, but that is not to be. And I’m okay with it. Really. I am.
I found out yesterday that I had not been chosen, so I’ve had some time to think about how I feel about that. Here’s what I’ve got.
1) Yes, I’m disappointed, but I didn’t lose anything. This process has been…life-altering. Not because this was the job I’d hoped for all my life–although it was a great job and I would have been fantastic at it . It has changed me because it’s helped me reclaim my Carla-ness. I don’t think I realized how buried I’d become in the last 15 years, how covered up and hidden.
It hasn’t just been motherhood. It’s been my work, it’s been trying to make new friends, it’s been dealing with depression, it’s been all kind of things piling up and covering over some essential parts of who I am. And I really liked those parts. I have missed camp counselor Carla who wasn’t afraid to make a fool of herself in front of 300 junior highers; actress Carla who could sing her lungs out at the drop of a hat; bold, brave Carla who moved across the country and took chances and believed she had an amazing life ahead of her.
But in the last few months, as I’ve written advice and made 30-second video clips and sent them off to be judged by total strangers, I’ve slowly uncovered that person. I know this sounds so arrogant, but when I was younger, I truly believed I was something. In some ways, it was a coping strategy to survive life in a small town where I often felt like I didn’t fit in–I had that “just you wait” voice in my head. That voice–and the belief I was talented and interesting and smart–faded as I moved into adulthood. It felt too bold to believe those things and no one likes bold. The GMA process has taken more confidence than I knew I had, more not caring what other people might think, more boldness than anything I’ve ever done before. And it’s been amazing. I am better, more me, than I have been in such a long time. With the help of amazing friends, Marianne Williamson, and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) Katy Perry, I feel like I have reclaimed my “muchness.”
2) I’m going to Jennifer Hudson the hell out of this. As you’ll recall, J.Hud came in 7th place during Season 3 of American Idol. Do you remember who won? Maybe. But does Fantasia Barrino have an Oscar? No. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I know that it will be something good. Even if that “something” is exactly the life I have right now, that’s fine with me. But I also believe the immortal words of Maria Von Trapp: “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” Something will come from this and I can’t wait to see what it is.
3) I’ve become a tiny bit more comfortable in my own skin. No one likes criticism, especially a people pleaser like me, but in the face of a handful of nasty comments about my faith, I’ve had to remind myself that I know who I am and who I’m not and no one else gets to define that for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have written and deleted about 20 rebuttals to the people who seemed determined not to like me or to portray me as someone I’m not, but I’ve resisted getting sucked in because I don’t have to prove myself to them. There have been a few other times in my life when someone has said something about me that is patently false and I’ve learned that the best defense is to keep being myself, to let my character speak for itself, and to trust that other people can see a petty attack for what it is. It still feels horrible, but maybe a little less horrible than it used to.
4) I’m going to work on that people pleasing thing. I can’t be all things to all people and I think my efforts to do so have been a big part of the loss of my muchness. You can’t be brave or foolish or sing your heart out when you’re worried about what other people will think.
I tell you all of this because I hope each of you can find something that helps you reclaim your muchness. I wish I hadn’t let mine get so covered up. I wish that 15 years ago when I started letting other things bury it someone had told me not to let it go. If they had, it might not have taken something so large-scale to bring it back. If you’ve lost yourself in motherhood, in your career, in your marriage, in the details of life, it’s not too late to dig your way back out. Figure out what thrills you, what scares you, what wakes you up, and go after it. My wake up started with an online application for a contest. You never know where an impulse will lead you. So follow one! And tell your friends to do the same. We are so powerful, so full of goodness, so “much.” Imagine what could happen if we unleash it!
Caryn: Carla, I do think it sucks that you didn’t get this job. You graciously say, “Thank you, Good Morning America,” But I vengefully say, “Hello, Today Show.” (Except that really, my heart will always belong to the WGN Morning News and to Arthur, Martha Speaks and Curious George in the morning. This is neither here nor there.)
But I am prouder of you that I can easily express—for the reasons you outlined about. What you did took guts. To put yourself in a position to be judged publicly—to be VOTED on (Even though the votes obviously meant nothing) and to subjected to comments about your faith, family, hair or whatever to follow a dream or calling or whatever you want to call it is terrifying. Something that keeps many people from ever venturing forward. And yet you did it and you handled it with grace and humor—and, as you said, total Carla-ness. It was awesome to see.
And good things will totally come from this! Especially now that you’ve been outed as a Fundamentalist/Extremist, think of the Christian TV avenues that will open up for you! Carla hosting 700 Club? Yes. Yes. I think so.
Carla: Thank you my friend.