IF ONLY by Geri Halliwell

Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

If OnlyIn the 6th grade, I heard “Wannabe” on the car radio and asked my mom to turn it up. The lyrics were inane, and yet they also spoke to me on some strange level. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want. I really really really wanna zig-a-zig-ah! By the end of middle school, my best friend Aisha and I were firmly entrenched in Girl Power. We knew every Spice Girls song by heart (even the B-sides) and we sang them (divvying up the parts) while walking home from school, working at my parents’ office, and playing Nintendo.

Over the years, the Spice Girls changed and matured in many ways — as did I. But in reading Geri Halliwell’s book, I was reminded of how much I’m still that girl striving to reach her dreams. And maybe I always will be.

I drew a lot of comfort from these wannabe musters in dance studios and theater foyers because I knew that I wasn’t alone. If my dream was fruitless and foolish, then a lot of other people had the same problem. We couldn’t all be wrong. (118)

Sometimes it seems like everyone I know wants to be a writer. And sometimes that scares me — like how am I supposed to stand out among this crowd?

But then I remember:

1) Publishing is not a zero-sum game. There’s plenty of pie for everyone.

2) These people are my people. They get me. We’re all dreaming the same dreams, and with each other’s help, we can achieve them.

3) I live in a bubble of my own making. All I need to do is step outside of it — talk to people who have no idea what “pantsing” is or how advances work — and I’ll realize that most people want nothing to do with writing books. Bless them.

(Now if only more people were interested in reading books…)

Not all of my grand plans ended in complete disaster. Each time I seemed to make just enough forward momentum to feel that I was still heading in the right direction. It wasn’t so much a case of one step forward and two steps back. More of treading water and hoping the current would take me where I wanted to go. (125)

I think this is just what progress feels like. An endless road — until suddenly you arrive.

(At least, that’s what I’m hoping/assuming!)

The way I figured it, people fell into three major categories. Those who have little ambition, achieve nothing and complain about what a rough deal they get. Those who are comfortable with their lives and feel no need to rise… And finally, there are people like me — restless dreamers. (160)

Okay, there are probably more than just those 3 categories, but I definitely know people in the first and third groups. And personally, I think the world needs more people in the second.

“You do know what your girl power is, don’t you?”

“It’s tapping into your inner resources to help you achieve your goals. If a girl has brains and femininity and most importantly inner strength and determination then, my dears, she has a very deadly weapon.” (179)

I think this is what the new wave of feminism is about. We’re not telling girls, you have to be this or that. We’re telling girls, you don’t have to be anything. You can be this. Or that. Or this and that. Whatever you want. Whatever makes you you.

And most importantly, we’re not defining a girl’s value through her looks. Or her career. No one thing should define a woman. (Or anyone.) It’s a total package kind of equation.

I’d like to be able to tell them that it all comes down to talent, but that’s not true. And I’d like to be able to say that perseverance inevitably pays off, but that’s not true either.

Nor is it about luck, or lottery tickets. You could be the most talented, most dedicated, luckiest wannabe in the world and still not succeed. In reality, it’s all of these things mixed into a cocktail that is never made the same way twice. (384)

And that, my friends, is the truth. There is no secret recipe. There are only the various ingredients, and your willingness to try combining them time and time again.

12 responses to “IF ONLY by Geri Halliwell”

  1. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    “(Now if only more people were interested in reading books…)”

    I just put up a blog post with some discouraging stats about this. Apparently the number of people who read books (ebooks, paper books, audio books, whatever) is decreasing.

    Oh, and I think I’m in the second category, writing-wise. I’ve never thought about it in these terms, but it does seem that there aren’t very many of us. I get classified as “aspiring” sometimes because I’m not published in a conventional sense, but I always correct that. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, and my only aspiration is to get better at it.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      That is the perfect aspiration. :)

      (And for the record, I wasn’t thinking of those groups primarily in writing terms — but now you’ve got me applying it that way, and it’s interesting to think about!)

  2. Shari Avatar

    Oh, I love this! I couldn’t agree more with you about … well, about everything you wrote. Also: I need to bump up Geri’s book on my to-read list!

    1. Kristan Avatar

      I think you would enjoy it! I ended up ordering Mel B and Victoria’s memoirs afterward too, although since they’re both going to cover similar ground, I’m holding off on reading them for a bit. Spacing them out, you know?

  3. Meghan Ward Avatar

    So true about the cocktail! I think it takes a mixture of determination, hard work, talent, connections, money (in some cases) and luck to succeed in a lot of fields. And the fact that you listened to the Spice Girls in high school makes me feel really old! :)

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Lol well then I won’t tell you it was middle school… ;)

  4. Juliann Avatar

    Great quotes. Though the one about perseverance not always paying off was Depressing. True, but depressing.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Aw, didn’t mean to bring anyone down. Sometimes I think it’s depressing, and sometimes I’m just reinvigorated by a realistic perspective. Because it’s like, OK, I’m not doing anything wrong. It’s not ALL up to me.

  5. Aisha Avatar

    Ugh I still love the Spice Girls so much, this entry makes me want to re-read “If Only”. I can’t believe I watched “Spice World” with you ironically and by the end of it I was like “STRENGTH AND COURAGE IN A WONDERBRA!!”

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Hehe. I can send it back to you, if you’d like?

  6. Jonathan Avatar

    OK. I never really listened to the Spice Girls, but Geri is ginger spice, right? How did they come up with those names?

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Yes, Geri is Ginger. According to her book, someone in the media came up with the labels — based on the exaggerated versions of themselves that the girls played up in interviews and appearances — and it just stuck. They all liked it, as did the public, obviously. :)