I have been seeing since last year newspaper stories about Susan Boyle’s excellent performance in a talent competition show on British TV and how she wowed the audience and judges, but I never paid much attention. Last week, I saw Susan appear in Oprah, which made me curious about her. I searched her name on youtube and saw that video of her first performance in the show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ has been viewed 93 million times, which must be a record.
I watched the video and it was so amazing that I came to crying (but didn’t). It’s amazing because when you see her first, you notice her ordinary looks, and when you hear her talk you don’t think much of her. She’s 47 years old and says during her introduction that she’s never been married and never been kissed. “A shame, but it’s not an advert.” she says, bringing a momentary crying expression on her face before laughing it off. But one can sense that there’s an effort required to laugh this fact off every day of her life. She describes the place she comes from as a collection of villages. When she declares her dream of becoming a professional singer to the jury, it’s met with smug looks. With all this background and the build up before she can show her talent, an image is formed in most minds that she will be knocked out soon. She has already been judged on the basis of her looks, her age and her demeanor before she could show her talent. However, the moment she started singing, all of that changed, and the rest, as they say, is history. I heard on Oprah that her debut album has sold a record number of copies.
The reason I write this is not because I have become a fan of Susan; she’s got millions of fans by now. I write this because it made me think how people’s talents get suppressed because of the tags and labels we attach to them, and how people give up on their dreams because they think that the age of gaining recognition has passed them. Susan’s talent remained hidden in her village all her life. Nobody around her would have thought this unbelievable success to be possible, but it didn’t stop her from keeping her dream alive in her heart. The strength of her spirit didn’t wane as the years of her life passed by.
Everyone may have a gift of one’s own, even if the world considers him or her dumb, slow or ugly, but not everyone is supposed to have skills to market that gift. It’s cruel to judge people before giving them an opportunity and encouraging them to show what they have to offer. It’s also so sad that so many of our women and men never get the time and freedom to pursue their dreams because the society only expects them to fit in traditional roles, and frowns upon anything which is not conforming to the norms. Anybody trying to do something different may be told a hundred ways in which he or she could fail but hardly any word of approval comes by. This should change.