American Idol season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini, posted an eye opening blog about what his life has been like post-Idol. While the fame and money flowed at one point, he’s had to adjust to a much more modest lifestyle. But, happily, he seems to be in a good place at the moment.
His next project will find him heading to Broadway to play Paris in a revival of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
There was a time when I would have had a car service drive me from my home to work.
Now I drive myself to the station and take the train.
There was a time when I wouldn’t have been concerned about the amazing expense of eating at place like Green Symphony.
Now, I budget. I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough. To make sure my children, and my wife have enough.
There was a time when I couldn’t walk the street w/o being stopped a hundred times for a photo or a press of flesh.
Now one in a thousand might stop me, or notice. For the rest I might (might) trigger some dim memory, stuffed at the back of long unfired synaptic pathways overgrown with the clutter of social media.
There was a time when I felt separate from the people I worked with. Like I didn’t belong. Like I was an interloper. So steeped were they in the arts they chose. I, a talented man without a country, so to speak.
Now I am a proud member of a family of like minded artisans who embrace me without pause, without judgment…well, at least without any more than the usual amount of judgement this business breeds. I am home, and my industry family…ever changing and rearranging…thrives.
There was a time when I put on a brave face, smiled, and laughed to show that I was impervious and unafraid.
Now, I’m unafraid to say that I am terrified. I am struggling to make each day meet the next without breaking down and curling up. Sometimes I envy people who sit at a desk all day (at least you know where your next meal is coming from). I’ll smile, and laugh,and joke, and entertain…because sometimes it’s the only way to keep the ghosts of regret and loss at bay. I am unafraid to be afraid, and in that fear I gather strength.
There was a time when I could have thrown down cash for a house, and had any number of lovers in and out the door. A flashy car and clothes to match. An ego to trump them all.
Now I rent a home filled with love. I have a wife whom I love and who loves me (me!) and who lifts me up. Children who give me cherubic-lippped kisses before I leave for work and who are the most delicious morsels of joy and peace and prosperity. I drive a family oriented import, that is over mileage. My clothes are a mixture of gift-suite holdovers, things I bought when I had money but no style, and H&M (I LOVE that place…total whore for ‘em). My ego, is blessedly humble (still sizable, as I think it should be for everyone…but only seeking to respect self, not to put others down in order to raise the self up)
There was a time when I would have never guessed that I’d be telling you any of this. When I would have bought something I couldn’t afford, just to prove that I was ok after everything went wrong. When I would have told you that I was cool, when I wasn’t.
Now I tell you all this to reintroduce myself to you. As I am now. To take you with me on this new adventure, to hopefully regain and surpass all that I had before…but this time with a family. This time with grounding, and joy, and peace that comes from knowing that I love myself. Really love myself.
It ain’t perfect, but loving me is the key to keeping myself from doing the dumb shit we all do in the name of…
It feels like madness to admit any of this…but I’d rather be outright crazy and free, than seemingly sane and a prisoner of convention.
Peace & Blessings,
Justin was recently a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s “Where are They Now,” pretty much mining the same subject.