What Will People Think?


I was an actor for about fifteen years. I stepped onto the stage as an eight-year-old and never wanted to step off. I majored in performance in college and even studied at Oxford, England, in an exclusive summer program.

I absolutely loved it. Until I didn’t anymore.

When I reached my early twenties and discovered that for one, pursuit of theater in the professional world was going to cost me a lot - morally, spiritually, financially, and personally. Secondly, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a mom. I began to realize that I would likely be required to choose which dream I wanted most.

There was no choice. I wanted the family.

But how could I leave what I had pursued for so long? How could I just give up? I could handle my own questions, but what I couldn’t handle, what kept me trapped for years was this one question…

What will people think?

I can rationalize with myself. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I was walking away from. I knew the cost. But how would I be able to make everyone else see that? How was I going to explain myself to my peers who I respected and who respected me?

I was trapped in a self-inflicted prison of fear.  What people would think of my choices?

For the next few years, as I continued down the theater road, I laid every single brick of that wall that trapped me in my past desires, lesser hopes and former fulfillment.

What’s worse is once I finally decided to set myself free to pursue my dream life, my friends and peers became harsh and judgmental and critical. And it was terribly hurtful. My fears were realized. It made it that much harder to follow my heart and do what was right for me.

But they say hindsight is 20/20, right? Ten years removed from that girl who was so very controlled by the thoughts and opinions of the people around her, I can tell you that I don’t regret my decision one bit.

I am now walking in the dream life that was always meant to be mine.

Some of my former theater peers are still pursuing their dreams in the spot light shining in their best life. A lot more of those friends have since left that calling to pursue stronger, more suited passions. I’m so proud of them and don’t blame them.

A few friends are still pursuing that spotlight out of the very same fear that nearly trapped me all those years ago: What will people think if I stop now? Those friends break my heart because I know what it’s costing them to live in that fear. I know what they’re giving up to stay trapped.

Let my hindsight be your foresight

Opinions are like noses, everyone has one. Don’t make it your truth just because it’s theirs.

By Wendy Cunningham

Sunny CainComment