Thanks to the Internet, we all had a chance to learn a lesson from Susan Boyle when she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” before judges of the TV show, “Britain has Talent.” What a surreal and thrilling moment for her. And what a wake-up call for the rest of us.

Her 15 minutes of fame aren\’t over yet. So far, almost 100 million viewers have seen her on YouTube. Why the viral nature of this phenomenon? Of course we\’re all pretty fed up with the media focus on the economic meltdown or vapid teen pop stars, and desperate for a heartwarming story. Or are we really looking for a role model whose character inspires us to follow our dreams?

In some ways Susan Boyle is everywoman. Her initial appearance onstage, with the negative reaction from the audience and judges, taps into insecurities we all have. Who hasn\’t felt frumpy or unattractive, unsure of ourselves or at a loss for words? Susan has lived a simple life, caring for her elderly mother, singing in the church choir and practicing her music. When you see the instant rejection, it makes you wonder if our society focused on the wrong things.

So what does all this fanfare about Susan Boyle have to do with you? You may not think you have an inner vision or the power and persistence to reach your goals. But here are some ideas that you may be able to use, even if you can\’t belt out a heartbreaking ballad about unfulfilled dreams:
1. Draw on what is really of value to you. Assess your character strengths and resources, and how they\’ve helped you get what you want before. And figure out how you can build on those assets now. Enlist your staying power as you keep your eye on the goal.

2. Let your creativity run wild so that you see yourself from a different perspective. The initial step is just to begin the process. Then your positive experiences will soon provide the incentive to continue. There may be stumbling blocks along the way, but never give up.

3. Don\’t be swayed by others and their attitudes, no matter whether they sneer or cheer. Focus inward. Find the internal confidence to move forward on your own steam. Pay attention only to what you\’re doing. And finish the song, no matter what.

4. The unexpected can come at any time. Be prepared. Try to stay motivated as you practice your skills. And pretty soon, step by step, you\’ll be able to turn your hopes and dreams into reality.

5. Be happy in your own skin. Take it one day at a time and make the most of your life as it is now. If, by chance, you become a sensation, stay humble and don\’t let success go to your head. Appreciate your good fortune.

Susan Boyle had learning difficulties in school and was bullied. She said her classmates\’ taunts left behind the kind of scars that don\’t often heal. Can you imagine how the initial negative reactions from the talent show audience felt to her? It seems as if, according to society, you should have the physical ability to seduce if you\’re going to be a torch singer. But when she sang about wasted youth and lost dreams, the crowd went wild. Don\’t we all love a surprise?

She\’s the classic underdog – shy, portly, middle-aged, nonthreatening and largely misunderstood. It happens to lots of people all the time. She didn\’t have boyfriends, is a stranger to romance and has \’never been kissed.\’ Singing was her salvation. On stage, courage could easily have failed her. Yet, in pursuing her long-held dreams, she managed to triumph over many disadvantages.

Susan Boyle is a reminder that it\’s time we all look a little deeper. As a caring daughter and devoted companion, she\’s lived an important life. You\’re probably doing that too in some ways. So don\’t think of yourself as just one more person with no discernible talent. When life provides a stage, sing your heart out. You deserve the applause.

© 2009, Her Mentor Center

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. is co-founder of www.HerMentorCenter.com, a website for midlife women and www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com, a blog for the sandwich generation. She is the co-author of a forthcoming book about family relationships and publishes a free newsletter, Stepping Stones, through her website. As a psychotherapist, she has over 25 years of private practice experience.