"Stars in Your Eyes," by Valerie Lohman

Maybe it’s due to an abnormally large ego, but I’ve always had this horrible desire to become a successful performer.

When I was 12, I got into my dream school, a performing arts High School where I would get to study Musical Theatre every day (basically, my life was like the 80’s classic ‘Fame’). As I opened my acceptance letter, I suddenly knew what it was like to be Charlie Buckett in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ when he finally finds that Golden Ticket. THIS was winning the lottery of all lotteries. I was absolutely positive that my life could not, would not get any better than this. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to sing show tunes 24/7? Am I right?!

I started as a mere 8th grader, and was in love by the second week of school. Two years went by, and I felt like this place was my home, I was somewhere that I belonged, where I was happy and loved. But, I still wasn’t feeling seen. Sure, I wasn’t terrible or anything, but I also wasn’t the best. I wasn’t really given solos, or leading roles in any of the mainstage pieces. I thought that maybe I had just thought I was special, and that maybe I really was only destined for 3rd chorus girl from the right. It broke my heart, though I just assumed that this was going to be the norm for me and the rest of my career. But deep down, I knew I needed more.

Then, (plot twist!) I won the role of Dorothy Gale in a local regional theatre’s Summer production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be successful doing what I loved! When school ended right before I started rehearsals, I had every intention of coming back for my Junior year, but as they say, the best laid plans do change.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I might be able to do something more than I had been led to believe.

It started as a small passing fancy, but more and more, I realized that this was what I wanted. I didn’t want to go back and play second fiddle. I wanted to go out and act.

But then for every moment that I felt strong and powerful in my decision to leave, the next moment I felt sad, hopeless, lonely and scared.

I didn’t want to leave my friends. I didn’t want to leave everything I knew and had devoted the past 3 years of my life for. That would be crazy.

Anxiety kicked in and asked ‘What makes you so special?’ and ‘What gives you the right to leave?” These questions haunted me that entire summer, and they do still. What gives you the right to feel so powerful?

I wonder every single day if I made the right decision. 

I think I did, but who really knows? But this darn little voice that asked for something more would not leave me be. So by the end of the summer, as I was taking my final bows in ‘Oz’, I decided to leave for the unknown. It was my own journey over the rainbow.

And somehow, it worked. Fast forward to now, just 3 years later, and I couldn’t be happier. I am doing what I love and I am making it work. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve had so much support from friends and family.

The main thing I learned was that not only does life hardly goes the way you expect it to, but also that we have the power to never settle. We are so worthy and need to not let the little evil ‘what if’ voice rule us. Because what is life without adventure and a little rule breaking? 


Valerie is an old soul trapped in the body of a sassy Disney-loving teenager who pretends to be other people for a living. She has credits spanning Theatre, Film, TV, and New Media. When not acting, you can either find her writing, binging Netflix, or at Disneyland pretending to be a Princess! 

Stay up to date with Valerie's journey: