Last night, I watched what was the end of an era for television, for music, and for me. I'd be lying to say I wasn't sad, that I didn't get a little bleary eyed.
I was in seventh grade when Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first American Idol. I was this nerdy bookworm who didn't know a thing about styling her hair or fashion. But I did know one thing--to see a waitress go from being an unknown to a household name was magical. Her voice, her style--the transformation happened before our eyes, and soon, we were all singing Kelly's songs.
American Idol was a staple through my junior high, high school, and college years. It was there for proms and graduations, for the loss of pets and the adoption of new ones. It was there in the years I got engaged, got married, bought a new house, got my dream job. Each year when it came back on, life was very different for me because so much had changed. For fifteen years of my life, it was just always there.
Let's not get crazy here. It's not like American Idol saved my life or made me realize my dream. I am, in no way, a singer. I have no dreams to be a singer. I'm not saved my music. Still, American Idol will always be nostalgic for me because I passed through some of the biggest changes in my life during the years of the show.
Some argue the show is rigged or stupid or not as good as it used to be. Some say it's just a singing competition. Some note the singers on the show don't even reach that great of fame other than a handful. Maybe these people are right in some ways. But in some ways, they're wrong.
The show isn't just about someone achieving fame or riches. It's so much more than that. It's a symbol of the true American Dream.
To watch people from all walks of life--waitresses, farm girls, construction workers, and everything in between--go after their dream is what America is all about. To watch people step onto the stage as unknowns and leave the stage as known by millions is a beautiful thing. To hear stories of hard work and failure and then watch someone achieve their life goal is magical. We can't help but be invested in them. We can't help but appreciate the fact that one audition, one moment, and three judges having faith in a person can change the course of their life.
We also see that sometimes, no matter how lucky you get or how hard you work, success can't always happen. We've seen big voices and personalities fail on the show. We've seen voices we vowed we'd never forget become forgettable. We've seen faces we hardly remember, people who we thought would be the next big thing become the next big forgotten. American Idol reminds us that nothing is given to you. Sometimes our dreams remain as just that--dreams. Not everyone becomes Kelly or Carrie.
Then again, sometimes they do.
As we say goodbye to American Idol, to the end of an era, I feel saddened that it won't be there for the rest of the stages of my life. I feel sad that so many voices may go unheard now.
Some say American Idol isn't over. There will be a revival. I am a bit hopeful. I will keep that door slightly ajar.
But if it is really the final goodbye, I can only say this. Thank you, American Idol, for reminding us no dream is too big, no person is too small, to achieve greatness. Thank you for reminding us that whether we want to be a singer or a writer or a doctor or a world traveler, we can achieve it if we are willing to, in the words of Kelly, "Breakaway" from the ordinary.