Has Been vs Never Was

This is sort of a depressing topic, but an interesting one. While digging deep to connect with one of my characters, I wondered: What's worse? Being a 'Has Been?' Or a 'Never Was?'

Has Been being someone who followed their dream, achieved success, then for whatever reason fell from grace or out of fashion.

Never Was being someone who had a dream but chose not to pursue it--due to lack of motivation, lack of confidence or fear of failure (to name three possible reasons).

The Has Been lived the dream then had it ripped away. I imagine some people handle it better than others. Maybe they find joy in retirement. Or maybe they explore new passions.
Then there are those who just can't let go. They cling to the past, hoping for a come back. They link their happiness to who they were, because, well, who they are now is just too dang depressing.

On the other hand, the Never Was lives with regret.
What if I'd had the courage to go to that interview/audition? If only I'd tried. Maybe I was good enough. Maybe I did have what it takes. What if? If only?
The unrequited yearning. Also depressing.

So which is worse? I'm hard pressed to say. But exploring both instances is indeed... interesting.


Jen said…
Definitely a depressing topic and one I'd be hard-pressed to choose btwn.

Just as an amusing aside -- the word verification I have to type in is "DUDEST". I wonder if that's like, "He's the dudest guy on the ranch."
Jordan Summers said…
I know a lot of Never Was people who busted their butts to achieve their dreams. It just didn't happen. They received small roles or some fame in music, but it never translated into the 'big time'.

I think both situations are extremely difficult. I've seen the destruction they can do. I think the hardest part of 'Never Was' is living up to the expectations of the people around you because you've spent a lot of your time and effort trying to convince them you'll make it. You've told anyone who'll listen about your dreams. It's rough when it doesn't materialize.

At the same time, we've all seen what happens to actors who have fame and lose it. Never pretty.
Olga said…
I think "Has Been" is slightly less depressing. At least, one has the memories!
Barb said…
wow- good question. I think I'm a little of both. 50/50----that's me!
Beth Ciotta said…
Jen--I'd like to meet the DUDEST guy on the ranch. ;)
Beth Ciotta said…
Hey Jordan-- I also know a lot of people who fall into the camp you metioned. I wasn't thinking as them as Never Was because at least they tried. Whatever that would be labeled, that's just as awful.

I know several entertainers who worked hard and took advantage of opportunities to reach that next level. Amazingly TALENTED entertainers. Unfortunatley, sometimes it's not for lack of trying or lack of talent. Sometimes 'making it' boils down to luck, timing, and maybe who you know.

The 'expectation' thing is rough too. You've given me more to think about regarding my character. Thank you for commenting!
Beth Ciotta said…
Barb--you and me both. :)
flchen1 said…
Ooh... I agree with Olga--I think "has been" at least has done it. I do think that acting (or actually other performing arts or sports) is especially a rough field to pursue--there isn't much room at the top, and redefining success to be what you personally achieve can be a bitter disappointment.

I tend to avoid going for it if I don't think I'm going to make it though, and that's a different kind of "never was"--I'm trying to model taking some risks at least occasionally so that my kids aren't afraid to live!
charleneteglia said…
I'd prefer "has been" if I had to choose, but rather than stay stuck in the past it'd be much more interesting to look for new opportunities.

And I think you can live with the "never was" if you live in pursuit of your passions. Maybe the big time success didn't happen, but you accomplished a lot of things along the way. It's better than doing nothing with your talents.

Really, I think both come down to attitude. Are you going to stay stuck in the past or stuck in the future? Or live today?

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