Fame, fortune and finding my voice

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be famous. I have no idea why or what inspired the want. Nor, I’m guessing, did I understand what “fame” even meant. But I saw it as a desirable thing to be, a reward to be enjoyed once I grew up.

So of course I chose a profession that guaranteed anonymity—advertising. No one knew who I was. My name was that of “the client,” the logo at the bottom of the page. And even if the ad was successful, I—the writer—stayed hidden.

Even when I did community theatre (ever the tragedienne), I was never the flamboyant lead. My characters were observers, watching, waiting until the very last moment when they took action that changed the entire course of the drama.

A week ago, that all changed. I appeared on Bmore Livestyle, an afternoon talk show broadcast in Baltimore, It was my debut as myself: Susan Bodiker, founder of One Girl Wellness, author of Fat Girl.

Was I nervous? Terrified.

Excited? Breathless.

“You always wanted to be famous,” I told myself. “Now's your chance.”

The segment—on self-care—flew by in a flash. The conversation flowed. And while I haven’t seen the footage, everyone seemed happy. And I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt great. (And thanks to make-up artist, Owen O’Donnell and hair stylist, Ashley Windsor, I felt beautiful.)

It wasn’t until I was back home that I realized what “fame” had meant to me all this time. It wasn’t celebrity I was after.  It was being seen, acknowledged, appreciated for who I was as I was. Valued.

Something everybody wants.

In those few minutes of fame, I found not just my voice. But my { self }.

Five ways to find your voice

How do you find your voice in the din of the marketplace? How do you use your craft to tell a familiar story in new, unexpected ways? How do you reconcile the desire to stand out with the pull of fame? These are some of the questions asked and answered in a beautiful performance documentary, “American Voices,” created and hosted by Renee Fleming and featuring “vocal masters and industry titans” as they coach and mentor “emerging artists” in sessions that are as inspiring as they are instructive.

Not an artist? Not to worry. You can still learn from the masters. Here are some tips to creating a voice worth listening to—at work, at home, in life.

1. Your voice is your brand. Does it reflect your best self? Make sure your vocal tone, your body language and self-expression communicate the persona you want to project.

2. Stop comparing yourself to how great you think somebody else is. That just makes you feel insignificant and unimportant. Instead, express yourself as truthfully as you can. That’s how you grow.

3. The last thing you want to be is generic. Assert your individuality and opinions without the need for external validation or approval.  (In other words, don’t muffle your voice in deference to others.)

4. Observe and learn from others, but create your own style--one that’s true to your own personal and professional values.

5. Never be the accompanist to the accompanist. (I love this.) Control your moment and the message and lead others where you want them to go.

Your voice is your instrument to make a difference in your world. However you use it, express yourself with art, skill and strength.

How will you use your voice today?