Rivkah Writes…

June 7, 2009

The Dream Lives on: an Open Letter to Susan Boyle

Filed under: Entertainment,On My Mind — rivkahwrites @ 6:11 pm

Dear Susan,

I am just one of your many fans, one of the many who have felt uplifted watching you perform, one of the many who has cast her vote in the “should she or shouldn’t she?” makeover debate, one of the many who watched your final performance on May 30. What an incredibly tumultuous journey you have traveled over the last few months. After a life spent in relative obscurity, you have gone from overwhelming acclaim, astounding success, and magical moments in the spotlight to…second place. And to you, who have always sought validation, this not-so-perfect outcome seems like the end of the world. As of course it must. Anyone who has fought to be recognized for his or her talent will understand the keen pain and disappointment you must be experiencing. You don’t know me, but I understand what it is to be called a star in the making over and over again – and then to never quite make it. Still, I am here to tell you – that dream you dreamed – it lives on.

Of course, we’re comparing apples to oranges here – at the latest count, I’ve had 1,225 hits on my blog, Rivkah Writes. Which is nice, but clearly, no one’s looked me up 100,000,000 times on YouTube or anywhere else. So by almost all standards out there, you have made it, you are truly a star, a gracious woman, a beautiful person, a devoted daughter, and as Piers Morgan put it best, an inspiration to us all during these tough times.

But Susan, I know you. So I recognize that anything less than winning that contest and performing for Her Majesty at the Royal Variety Performance does not spell success in your eyes. As a fellow masochist, I too make incredible demands of myself, get depressed for inevitably falling short, yet would never dream of imposing such demands on my husband, children, or loved ones. To everyone other than myself, I am kind, patient, encouraging, and tender – yet I cannot be that person for myself.

So Susan, let me put my dysfunctions to good use here – let me be kind to you. Let me hold up a mirror to show you what you have accomplished, and what you still stand to accomplish. Your second-place standing is not the end, but the beginning of the next chapter of “Susan Boyle Superstar.” Think about it. Out of the millions of people out there that voted in Britain’s Got Talent, you came in second – second in the entire country – a magnificent accomplishment in and of itself, and one, I might add, that many runner-ups have parlayed into hugely successful careers. Think of Adam Lambert, runner-up to Kris Allen on this year’s American Idol. Not for one moment does anyone believe that Kris Allen‘s win detracts from Adam’s star-studded prospects. Moreover, Diversity’s accomplishment, while notable, does not overshadow yours. You were not judged runner up to another singer, but to Diversity, a talented, euphoria-provoking dance group whose appeal cleverly dovetails with the ostensible purpose of the Royal Variety Performance: to introduce – well, diversity. But Diversity’s success takes nothing away from yours, because – apples and oranges again – Diversity’s talents are nothing like yours. You exist on polar opposite planes of existence, and can each succeed on your own terms, and in those separate planes.

So Susan, here’s what you need to do: have a good rest. Go on vacation. Take time to process what you’ve been though. Then put one hand on your hip, close the other around a mike, shake that booty, and go back to doing what you do best. Trust me, there will be no shortage of offers to do just that. As for losing the chance to sing before the Queen – my guess is she may request the honor of your presence before you get your second chance. Something tells me she dreamed a dream too – and it looked and sounded a lot more like yours than like Diversity’s. So you hang in there, you hear?

As for me, I’m working on pretending to be someone else. That way I can be kind to myself too.

All the best, Susan –



  1. Me too, Susan! I’m with Rivkah! I saw you and I simply cried…your gift was given with such joy and I loved it.

    Thanks for sharing this open letter to I believe someone who will become a real singing sensation and great example of real talent.

    Comment by clbro — June 7, 2009 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  2. Your welcome!

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 7, 2009 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  3. Forgive me for doing this manually, folks: I’m about to do a manual import of other people’s comments of this blog from LinkedIn to Rivkah Writes… Although I’ve asked LinkedIn buddies to please comment right here, where the original article was written, they persist in commenting elsewhere. At any rate, I’m embarrassed to ask anymore. So at the risk of appearing childish – I’m not supposed to care where the comments appear, right? – prepare for said manually imported comments:


    “My apologies if this doesn’t take the romantic view of Susan Boyle, particularly because I share your sentimental support of the Scottish singer. That said, she was not in relative obscurity, she was in total obscurity. It was because of that, that the pressure was much too much for her. Plus, she went from dark horse to favorite overnight. That put many in the position of rooting for the underdog. That said, competition results aside, there can only be one of three outcomes for her now:

    * She never takes off and takes her place on the YouTube heap of five-minute sensations (unlikely);

    * She really has trouble adjusting to fame and needs some major psychological counseling and handling to allow her to feel comfortable singing when on stage, and just being herself off-stage without naively being suckered into scams from handlers, fans and strangers. After this she can then concentrate on her career. (very likely);

    * She makes the adjustment and does well with her career but never mentally makes the adjustment from poor middle-class woman to rich and famous diva. So while she may do well financially, she could create a reputation for being very difficult. (quite possible)

    This competition will not be remembered for who won but for producing Susan Boyle, who in effect was the winner. She will make money. The question is, will she survive the ruthless entertainment business? That remains to be seen.”

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 8, 2009 @ 5:09 pm | Reply


    Very cogent commentary, Tim, and I agree with every word of it. So why did I opt for Romance?

    You know, I’ve read one or two decidedly un-romantic analyses of the Susan Boyle phenomenon over the last few days. Notably:

    “A performing cycle that once could have taken years is herein reduced to days. She’s unknown, we’re surprised. She’s embraced, we’re disenchanted. She’s the runner-up … next?” ( http://tinyurl.com/nytimes-2009-06-02 ).

    But – and you’ll forgive me if this doesn’t take the prosaic view of Susan Boyle -In my post, I wanted to drive to the heart of how Susan may be interpreting her situation, to personalize it with my own experience, and to remain in that vein.

    Call it sentimental if you will, but isn’t there enough hurtful reality out there already?

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 8, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply



    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 8, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  6. In Australia, we may be strange, but the true winner of Australian Idol, since it started, has been the runner up. We seem to do something very strange in that final vote; we vote for the person we “think” we should vote for, not the one we “feel” we want to vote for. But when we go out to buy a track, guess whose track we buy? These days, when I watch Idol, I always hope my favorite LOSES the final. It is the kiss of death.

    Comment by Christine — June 8, 2009 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  7. An interesting reversal, Christine – like Oscar winners who appear cursed once they win the statue. But while ironic twists do sometimes occur, there are Idol winners who are VERY successful – like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, so I guess you can never quite figure these things out.

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 8, 2009 @ 9:01 pm | Reply


    I think it all comes down to mindset. After all, this is why the vast majority of people who win millions on lotteries are broke within a year or so. It’s how you cope that makes the difference and that comes down to how well prepared you are mentally. Perhaps Susan failed to be coached properly in this regard. Some try to manufacture stars but it may simply be a case of stars are born and not created. Your views?

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 9, 2009 @ 9:33 pm | Reply


    I think you’re right. It’s almost as though there are 3 categories of people – the wannabes, the famous, and the talented never-quite-made-its. What’s more, I believe these categories are universal, so they apply not only to singing sensations, but to anyone in any field he/she wants to excel in. That’s also the reason why you sometimes have wannabes become famous with half the talent of those that never quite make it; some wannabes have the confidence and coping skills – and the sheer good luck – to compensate for any talent shortfalls. Hopefully, Susan will be as successful as she is talented, but there are no guarantees…

    Comment by rivkahwrites — June 9, 2009 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  10. […] “The Dream Lives On: In an Open Letter to Susan Boyle” I wrote:  “As a fellow masochist, I too make incredible demands of myself, get […]

    Pingback by Thrill Seeker « Rivkah Writes… Blog — June 28, 2009 @ 10:19 am | Reply

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