Stay True to Your Dreams….And Prepare To Be Amazed


By Kelly Curran Johnson

In 1982, I was 14, obsessed with all things music and entertainment, and Annie was wrapping up a successful six-year run on Broadway. The motion picture had just been released, and the theme song was being played across the airwaves ad nauseum. Girls ages 4-16 around the world stood in front of mirrors holding hairbrush microphones and belting out louder and louder versions of “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” at the tops of their lungs. They wanted to BE Little Orphan Annie.  

I was no exception.

As luck would have it, my middle school chose Annie for our spring play, and I was absolutely over the moon (or the sun to be more exact).

I was a pretty decent singer, I was in the 8th grade (so seniority was definitely in my favor), and let’s not forget that I had won 1st place in the school’s inaugural talent show (albeit when I was 7) singing “Button Up Your Overcoat” in a homemade green-fringed flapper dress my grandmother made for me (complete with a rhinestone-studded headband). I clearly knew how to work a crowd, and I had the history to pull this off…

My chance to live out my life’s dream to be a star on Broadway was coming true. This would be my start, and I’d have such a great story to tell in interviews. I couldn’t wait for tryouts. Night after night, I belted out increasingly more heartfelt and passionate (and louder) versions of the theme song while my mom listened faithfully (without ear plugs) giving me pointers and cheering me on. She, like me, was sure I would make the cut - the lead role was within my grasp. Encouraged by the Annie frenzy in the air and my mom’s belief in me, I marched into that middle school music room with great confidence. And let me just say - I rocked it. The sun would in fact come out tomorrow.

“My Chance to live out my life’s dream to be a star on Broadway was coming true.”

Then Came The Cast List…

The day the cast list was posted on the music room door, however, was one of the low points of my middle school career. I had to look twice to make sure I was reading correctly. I had been given the role of Grace Farrell, the secretary to Daddy Warbucks, and Deirdre Mott (Deirdre Mott – a 5th grader?!?!) had been cast as Annie.

At the time, I felt completely blindsided. What had happened? In hindsight, however, there was just one minor detail that had never entered my stream of consciousness.  I looked nothing like Little Orphan Annie. Deirdre Mott looked exactly like Little Orphan Annie. 

Deirdre Mott was a short, cute, athletic, auburn-haired songbird. She was Annie’s long-lost twin, and she sang like her too. Not to mention Deirdre was a really nice person. I liked Deirdre Mott.

I, on the other hand, was a gangly 5’ 8” (on a short day) with long blonde hair and braces. I wore a size 9 shoe, and, if I’m really honest, I’m pretty sure I was the tallest person in the whole school, towering over even Daddy Warbucks at times.

So why didn’t my mom warn me, prep me, talk me down from my crazy dream. I finally asked her that recently. Her reply? “You were really good!” Oh, Moms.

But following that dream led to so many other wonderful musical moments for me. I really had fun trying to be Annie, so I started singing and acting more. Church choir, high school musicals and ensembles. One act plays. College glee club and acapella groups. The crowning moment (no pun intended and I didn’t get the crown) involved one very scary college beauty pageant where, in addition to singing, I was required to walk back and forth across the stage in a bathing suit. Thankfully, times have changed. Later, I was able to offer my voice during more poignant moments during the weddings and funerals of dear family members and friends. So, although my dream didn’t turn out the way my 14-year-old self envisioned, I WAS living my dream, on a smaller stage, for much more meaningful purposes in my corner of the world than I ever thought I could.

Which brings me to the point of this walk down middle school memory lane…

“So, although my dream didn’t turn out the way my 14-year-old self envisioned, I WAS living my dream, on a smaller stage, for much more meaningful purposes in my corner of the world than I ever thought I could.”


Our Dreams And Aspirations Are Powerful. They Are Necessary.

Our dreams create a goal and a hope. They are unique to each of us. Some lucky few get the chance to live out those star-studded dreams for all the world to see, making seemingly huge impacts. And that’s a good thing, because it inspires the rest of us to dare to dream about what me might want to be or do or offer. 

Daring to even consider a dream and then claiming that dream out loud, or even just writing it down on paper, feels daunting, unattainable, out of body, maybe selfish. What will other people think? What are WE even thinking? But if we look all around us, we have the opportunity to live out our dreams, perhaps on a smaller scale than originally thought, in the everyday moments of life – in the choir, in the community theater, in the classroom, on the mission trip, in that new business venture, as a foster parent, from the fire truck, in the ER.

And then other dreams are quite simply taking the courageous steps required to do the next best thing for ourselves and the people and causes closest to our hearts.

  • Securing a job that allows us to pick up our kids from school at 3 pm and still provide for our family…

  • Working hard for a promotion that offers a better health plan…

  • Repainting the kitchen so it’s a happy place to make meals and gather with family and friends…

  • Having the guts to stick it out and stay in a situation or likewise having the courage to remove ourselves…

  • Preparing dinner for a neighbor overwhelmed with hard things...

  • Planting seeds in the ground to teach our children about caring for themselves and our world…

  • Starting a blog to share thoughts and inspire others...

These too are dreams. Dreams to make a difference where we can, where we are. And they require thought, action, talents and heart that only we can provide at a particular moment in time.

“Dreams to make a difference where we can, where we are.”

Bottom Line: We Need Dreams, And They Come In All Shapes And Sizes, Just Like We Do.

The only requirement on our end is to muster up the courage to take that one brave, thoughtful step toward doing the next best thing we feel led to do. 

And then surround ourselves with people who believe in us. People who think we could be Little Orphan Annie.

believe in yourself and your dreams.

Take The Next Step To Reach Your Dreams For Your Career.

For more insight and inspiration around exploring the next chapter in your career, say hello to our Chapter You Career Coaches.

Also, be sure to say thanks to Kelly Curran Johnson who is a freelance writer, communicator, corporate social responsibility consultant and proud Chapter You alumna in faithful pursuit of her dreams.