It is often that we find ourselves in conversations with family, co-workers and friends that we hear someone say that so and so is a “Wannabee” so I’d like to take a moment to consider this slang term that is used so often today. It’s defined in the dictionary as “One who aspires to a role or position.” or “One who imitates the behavior, customs, or dress of an admired person or group.” It is an adjective, and we find it’s most often used as a negative slur against some persona non Grata for a variety of reasons that depend largely on who’s doing the slur. The term always gets smiles and nods from those listening and is especially satisfying when the person it was just used against suddenly arrives on the scene, giving the slanderer and his or her co-conspirators no small amount of satisfaction at having just delivered a secret blow to their character, which goes unchallenged because the recipient is greeted like a friend as usual and suspects nothing.
I have even used this term against myself, in a previous post in that David Letterman self-deprecating way. That I might have picked up from him all those nights long ago when I was self employed and could watch his show every night. But now my thinking is changing on this phrase and it’s use, I think now that invoking the term as a slight to myself is wrong, and that it’s the Wannabee’s that have the brass ring around their finger and may not even know that they caught it on the carousel of life.
When you look at the people using the term in reference to others, a strange thing happens. You begin to realize that these people often don’t have much to show for their life at all, they may hold down a job, some might even have an education of some sorts beyond the twelfth grade. But most just don’t really do much with the life they’ve been given, they go to work, they come home, they eat, watch TV and go to bed, next day-same thing. On the weekends they work around the house and yard, go see relatives or friends, some of course go hang out in a bar or club depending on their status (married/single or divorced/cheating for that matter) and usually end the evening with a few more minutes of TV, Internet, or text messaging before bed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK if that’s your life style… but you find that people who live that way are the first ones to put down another. Why you ask? I’ll tell you why, it’s envy…pure and simple.
When I got interested in art in 1999 many people in my circle ( both family and friends) thought that it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the breakup of an engagement. When I started showing how serious I was about getting back the creative person I was all my life, I found the hostility and lack of support quite palpable. The news that I was not going to go out on a Saturday night was greeted with “What are you going to do stay home and paint!” said with a sneering tone. That left me no doubt about who was on my side and who was out for themselves and were not happy that I was making progress and changing.
In the nearly ten years that I have been involved in the arts, I have gotten interested in Writing, Indie Films, Theater, Pop Culture, Cooking, Travel, Sculpture, Guitar, Fashion, Gardening, Poetry, Language, Photography and more. While I do admit that this many interests is both exhausting and expensive, and can lead to being called a “Jack of All Trades-Master of None” (which doesn’t make sense when your dealing with personal hobbies and interests) it also means that you are in great company.
If you look at the careers of some of our best known actors, musicians, and writers, you see that there is a tremendous crosscurrent that goes with creative people. It’s well known that Tony Curtis was a serious artist way back in the early 70’s, David Bowie paints and so does Paul McCartney, the actress Juliet Lewis has a band called “The Licks” and Stephen King plays guitar too, and the actress Zooey Deschanel has her first cd coming out, the list goes on and on. You see it’s a by-product of being creative to want to do many other things with your talents, Salvador Dali was involved in film, writing, and was fascinated by atomic science and technology, Picasso was involved in making art with found objects and did ceramics as well as sculpture, he didn’t just paint.
It’s not that I’m a “Wannabee” (negative connotation), it’s just that I really “want to be” (positive connotation-emphasis is mine) an Artist, Writer, Foodie, Traveller, Thespian(adj), Guitarist, etc. The most basic definition of the word Wannabee is just that, someone who wants to be something. I know that I can’t possibly try to do all these things at once, but everything has it’s season so-to-speak, I do some in Winter, others in Summer and some depend on how the creative juices flow. Which circuits are running and which ones need new fuses to get then going again. It’s never an exact science and can be triggered by many events both positive and negative, and even by other people in my life, without them ever knowing it.
The fact is that if your pursuing art, writing, and music all at once, if you decide to learn a language while taking cooking classes even though your already an amateur photographer, if you find yourself wishing to sculpt with clay while spending every other free minute writing poetry and are an avid gardener as well, then my friend…you might just be a Wannabee. But take heart, all is not lost! You might just find yourself in a glorious group of people for whom life is as rich and meaty as they are able to make it, and even though you may never reach the dizzying heights of stardom in your chosen Wannabee pursuit, you can count on one thing. Those who deride you are too shallow to ever perceive your wondrous reality, and they will never know the worlds that your spirit gets to play in almost every day.