When life gives you lemons …

By The Columbia Chronicle

Before my wonderful boyfriend and I left the summer camp his parents had organized for the past 30 years, I thought to myself, “My in-laws do such amazing ministry.” In my head I called them “my in-laws” because for the past several months, my boyfriend and I had been seriously discussing marriage. We had started premarital counseling, decided where we would live after our September wedding and when we would try to buy our

first home together.

As we pulled up to my apartment complex, I thought it was strange that he didn’t pull into the garage. He stopped in front of the complex,  turned to me and said, “Tara, I don’t want to discuss marriage any longer.” I looked at him and could tell he was speaking, but I didn’t understand the words coming from his mouth.  All I could hear were the sounds of my perfect life and future being flushed down the toilet.

I got out of the car and managed to hold back the tears long enough to close the front door of my apartment. Once the tears started, they flowed for months. Everything I thought I knew and had planned was gone. What do I do now?

After the tears dried up, I got angry and wanted some answers. My ex-boyfriend/fiancé wasn’t talking to me, so I was forced to look at myself.  I just kept asking myself, “Who wouldn’t want to marry me?” I was perfect, or at least I was trying tremendously hard to be perfect. Whatever he asked, I did. Whatever he desired, I bent over backward to get. If he caught a cold, I would carry tissue in my purse just in case he needed it. Who doesn’t want to marry a woman like that?

And then it hit me, “Who is that woman?” She definitely wasn’t the Tara Teresa Johnson that I knew and previously loved. She was lost and I had to find “her.”

“The Quest Back to Me” led me to the single source of happiness that had never failed me—singing.  I had stopped singing after my ex made some snide comment about my voice.  I mustered the courage to start taking voice lessons.

From the moment I started singing the first scale, I felt “her” coming back. The higher the note on the scale, the higher my confidence rose. Eventually, my voice coach encouraged me to start auditioning for plays in New York. I got a principle role in the musical “Dreamgirls” on my third audition. From there, my true passion came to the surface. I wanted to pursue a career in television, in front of and behind the camera.

I searched for the perfect place to turn my dream into my reality—the television program at Columbia. So I packed my bags, said goodbye to my life in the Big Apple and headed to the Windy City to become an actress and television producer extraordinaire.

Now I thank my ex for what he did. He forced me to reclaim my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to get married, but this time I will know the woman who stands at the altar to recite those vows. She won’t be a stranger.  She is my best friend. She is the “true me.”

Tara T. Johnson is a new Post Baccalaureate Certificate of Major student in the Television Department. She is ecstatic to be back in school and at Columbia pursuing her dream of being an actress and television producer.