I’m Not the Best at Anything, Just Like Madonna

not the best

I’m obsessed with Madonna lately because I got to see her in concert this month. I’ve been a casual fan, at best, over the years, but I’ve always admired Madonna. I’ve actually lived by a quote of hers since 1991. These words have shaped me, encouraged me, set a path for me to follow. The quote represents a quarter century of influence.

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I work the hardest.”

What amazing advice. What a freeing outlook. Who cares about raw talent? Take what you’ve got and run with it. Take advantage of every opportunity to do all that you can to pursue your dreams. This was my mandate, direct from Madonna to this young Madonna-wannabe.

Except, she never said that, exactly.

For 25 years, a Millennial’s entire lifetime, the time it takes to grow a damn fine tree, I’ve had the quote all wrong.

Typical me.

The actual quote goes like this:

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons, in being provocative. In being political.”

Oh.

That’s very different.

Fortunately we did not have the internet in the dark ages of the turn of the 90s. If we had, I could have Googled Madonna’s exact words and then used some app to make a snazzy image with a fishnet background and a crucifix centered over the text. I would have posted this on Instagram and declared to the world that this was the quote I’d live by for the year. Or 25, as it turned out.

Instead, I heard what I needed to hear.

I heard that it wasn’t critical to be the very best at anything. Success was for anyone who worked for it. Here was Madonna, dominating American pop music, and she believed she was not the best singer and dancer. She told me that I didn’t have to have ridiculous talent to make pursuing my dreams worthwhile. (Ridiculous goals still required.) She told me there was room enough for all of us to be successful, not just the super talented ones.

“I know I’m not the best singer, and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons, in being provocative. In being political.”

All those years I thought the quote was about working hard for things, wanting them so badly you figured out how to make them happen.

As I interpret Madonna’s words now, they seem to be about defining success for yourself, and I wonder if this new and improved (old and accurate) quote will mean as much to me over the next 25 years.

At the concert, just before performing an acoustic version of “Who’s That Girl?” Madonna said something to the effect of still being a “confused soul,” except she used a much more fun and colorful word for soul. She asked if we aren’t, all of us, always just trying to figure out who we are? I wish I’d written it down, but I was too busy being moved.

Also, I’m not good with quotes, apparently.

Maybe I got this one wrong too. Maybe Madge was talking about drag queens or the Illuminati. I don’t know. But I’m fine if I heard it wrong. It made me feel better. Not because Madonna was admitting she didn’t have it all figured out, I’m pretty sure none of us do, but because she had the courage to stand on a stage and say it out loud. You might say she has nothing to lose, but I’d argue she’s got plenty.

I was never the best analyst or the girl who knew every IRS code. But I was damn good at those jobs. I’m certainly not the best writer or speaker, but what a boring world we’d have if only the best used their voices. And we’d be crushed if only the best stepped up to lead, or to parent. So I try, I do, I fail, I repeat.

I don’t have to be the best anything. Pressure’s off.

Express yourself.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs.

 

 

 

Image Source: Lela Davidson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *