Friday, March 5, 2010

my american idols

In all the seasons of American Idol, I've only watched one all the way through, and that was its first. After that, I just couldn't keep interested long enough to watch any more than an episode here or there. But when I heard that Ellen DeGeneres was joining the show as a host, I knew that I was gonna have to check it out again. And I'm so glad I have! Cool Ellen aside, I keep watching because I've really started caring about these people. To help form a connection with the contestants, they show little clips of them answering questions about themselves, showing their family members, giving you a glimpse of who they are in their ordinary lives. Sometimes they'll talk about why they chose the particular song they did and if they have, how they applied the advice given to them by the judges the week before. And it works. When you care, you want to root for them.

Last night, at the end of the results show, I was tearing up as I watched 16-year-old Haeley Vaughn, one of the girls to be voted out, as she gave her last performance. The kid is adorable! Her trademark is her unique, infectious smile that she always wears. She has an innocence that radiates a natural goodness, and it makes her very likable. That's what made seeing her have to leave the show so sad. She was clearly not the strongest singer and that's why she got voted off, but that didn't make it any easier to watch as she sang her last song. She performed "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus, and it was hard to watch as she sang these lyrics, trying to keep back her tears:

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah

Everyone was visibly moved by the poignancy of her performance, and right as the song ended, one of the guys gave her a hug, and then all of the contestants came and gathered around her in support. It was really nice.

Haeley hasn't been the only one who has had to go home and she won't be the last. It's just part of the game. What I've loved seeing, though, is how gracefully everyone has accepted their fates. They've all given their final performances with class and expressed gratitude for simply having been given the opportunity in the first place. I really admire them for that.

Throughout the audition process and the past few weeks with the finalists thus far, there have been so many stories told, tears shed, and people dancing, bursting with hope and excitement. These are people and their dreams we're watching. Yeah, it's a TV show, but these are actual people. Each person is there going after something that means something to them. Some make it and some don't - but they've shown up! Whether they didn't even get in to see the judges, or did get in to see the judges and were rejected, or only made it to Hollywood week, or if they make it to the finale only to lose out on being named the next American Idol, what's important is that they showed up. They gave it a shot. They moved through their nerves, acted through their fears, and tried. That is huge! Historically, I've not gone after things I've wanted because I was too afraid. So, it's plainly clear to me the significance of the bravery these people exhibit when going after what's important to them.

I don't just mean auditioning for a talent competition either. I'm talking about ANYTHING that ANYONE has an inner calling towards and who follows through with despite the fears they may have, despite thoughts that would deter them. It takes guts. Anybody, anywhere who goes after what they want even when they're afraid - especially when they're afraid - is worthy of a little idolatry in my book. I admire and applaud the courage with which they try. Their hearts might break; it might not go down the way they envision, but they've tried. And for someone who has a history of not trying, I tell you, also, that the trying is most definitely a victory in itself.

I hope that Haeley and all of the other contestants that end up voted off along the way will be able to remember and see this in themselves.

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