If you know me then you know I’m a huge fan of Hal Sparks. I can enumerate many reasons as to why I am a fan of his and why you should be too. He’s an incredible guy who is almost way too talented and intelligent for one human being.
I’ve often threatened to clone him but it would be a pointless endeavor. Everyone wants the original.
As my birthday fast approaches I’ve been going through the normal nostalgia that accompanies this time of year. I’m mindful of where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going. Hal Sparks is more than a celebrity “crush” in that respect. He was absolutely instrumental in the progress I’ve made as a human being since 2004. It’s why I will always adore him and be forever grateful for the lessons he’s taught me in the past, and continues to teach me in the present.
And, since it’s fast approaching Thanksgiving as well, I thought I’d take a moment to try to express what I fear I’ll never fully be able to articulate properly.
If you’ve been reading the blog you know that I’ve had issues with putting barriers up against the world I always felt would hurt me. It was a lesson I learned when I was four, then reminded again when I was eleven. I became my own worst abuser until I locked myself away behind the prison of all my extra weight. There were rare times I peaked out and tried to connect with the world, but more often than not I was reminded that I wasn’t any thing more than I had secretly always feared: a scar across the face of humanity.
There are those who derive great joy in reminding folks like me how “aesthetically displeasing” we are, and how much room we take up in the world if we dare to even get on a plane. I’m constantly reminded by the majority of men that I kinda really don’t count as a woman since I’m not traditionally pretty; many of whom won’t even run the risk of being my friend in fear that I’ll somehow want more. Some even make sure they don’t make any physical contact, as if fat was a contagious disease of some sort.
Even our idols have a go at whacking our self esteem by treating us like nothing more than unwanted gum stuck to their shoe. (I’m speaking to you, Neal Schon.)
It’s led to a love-hate relationship with men my entire life as I tried to find my value in the eyes of another.
And while Hal has always given me that value, the true magic came when he managed to do what no one else who wasn’t marginally invested could do. He managed to turn my perspective around to find value in my OWN eyes.
In 2004 I was nothing more than a casual fan. I knew some things about him but I didn’t know him as a person. Furthermore I didn’t think I deserved to.
Then he posted that he had created a Myspace page I learned that I could actually earn the distinction of being considered his “friend”.
Problem was I had to create my own Myspace page to do it. Back in 2004 Myspace was the Internet version of the Cool Kids table. Everyone was young and hot – at least going by the pictures posted back then (and my own skewed perception that I would never be able to fit in.)
I just knew I’d stick out like a big fat sore thumb.
So I created a Myspace page using an Avatar, and was decidedly closed-mouthed about my other online persona on AOL where I had a weight loss blog called A Journey to Me. That blog was brutally, painfully honest about everything – even how much I weigh… something I have yet to do even on my WordPress blog.
I was in so many ways hiding in the shadows, afraid that I would never be good enough just as myself to be accepted into the fold.
I started a new Myspace blog with my Nanowrimo project that year, hiding as always behind my words rather than show my face or rely on my image. I got some attention from other folks on Myspace, but by December I still hadn’t been befriended by Hal.
It dawned on me that Hal wanted to befriend “real” people – not people who hid behind the mask of an Avatar.
I very bravely put my own picture up on my profile. (I also posted a fat(ter) picture of myself so people would forgive how fat I still was…. that’s how chicken I was to do this.)
Hal ultimately befriended me and over the next year I grew braver to interact with him through the safety of his Myspace comment page. He didn’t have to write anything back, it was a simple one-way conversation that held no real fear of rejection.
Though he never did write anything back, I grew in confidence over the next several months to actually summon the courage to meet him in person. In his eyes I did find value. Unlike many other men he wasn’t afraid to stand close to me, he even hugged me (twice!) without fearing that I’d suddenly think he wanted something more and thus want to pounce him and take him to bed. He treated me like a person.
Here was this good-looking famous guy who treated me better than ordinary men I meet on the street. He had no ulterior motive to treat me well, that’s just the kind of person he is. This was a revelation to me.
From that moment on I was hooked.
Especially since the growing confidence had me growing bolder and more honest in my own blog, which drew others to me. I started my own following that was independent of Hal, even though many people who interacted with me were Hal related.
With a few notable exceptions they weren’t out to get anything from me, they genuinely liked me from the comments I would leave on his blogs and his Myspace page. Then they began to like my blog for its content that most of the time had nothing to do with Hal.
I began to blossom as Ginger, someone who was likable, even lovable, for her own achievement, merit and content.
I liked it. I liked it a lot. Little did I know at the time I was creating a “brand” for myself, something that would eventually work to serve me as a writer.
Later I would enter a contest for six-word memoirs with the sentence, “Hid for a while. Not anymore.” This ultimately would be published and give me the distinction of being included in a New York Times best selling book, where my humble offering actually was reviewed for how it resonated with a reader.
In direct and indirect ways, Hal gave this to me.
I began to do things for him out of my overwhelming gratitude for this amazing gift. To my constant surprise he was ever gracious and ever grateful. He never took anything for granted. Even though there were times when I felt he maybe did something out of some sort of obligation, it occurred to me much later that in his own way he was doing for me what I had done for him. Give without question to honor the gifts so willing given.
Even if it’s just a word he always makes time to do this, even when he’s tired or has a million other things to do. As much as he can, he remembers who supports him unlike any celebrity I have ever seen.
There was a period of time when I had given so much of my self esteem to him that I needed much more attention than he could ever give in return, but even then his wisdom and his patience helped ease the transition I was undergoing. He knew when to engage, he knew when to withdraw. All that time I thought I was lost in the shuffle but he was paying attention in ways I wasn’t expecting.
He went on to publicly endorse things like my blogs and support many of my causes. He didn’t do that because he owed it to me, I finally figured out that he believed in me… and I didn’t have to do anything more than be who I was for him to do it.
What’s more…if he could believe in me, why couldn’t I believe in myself?
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place.
He had finally turned the focus around to where it needed to be all along. He refused to be idolized or held up on some impossible pedestal simply because he had always made a place beside him all along for anyone who believed in themselves enough to take it.
In all these years I have been waiting for permission to be his equal, he was waiting for me to give that permission to myself.
And because of him, and all the other wonderful friends who have encouraged the same, I finally have the courage to shake off fear and do the things that I previously believed myself unworthy to do. There is value in my brand simply because it is mine. Whether I succeed or fail to sell it is sort of irrelevant. I know now that I am good enough to stand beside those whom I always believed to be better than me. I can’t be anyone other than who I am, nor should I ever want to be. The only competition I ever had was the one within myself to be the best version of myself I can be.
Hal Sparks gave me permission to be excellent.
And for that I will always be grateful to my dear, dear friend Hal.
Thank you so much.
For everything. ❤