It was an innocent comment. I was having a Shabbat meal at the home of a friend, the mother of my daughter's classmate, when we started discussing our lives and projects outside the circle of our husbands and children. I casually mentioned that a short piece I had written was about to be published as part of a compilation of similar pieces. My friend looked at me, surprised, and said, "Really? I didn't know you were so creative."

I blinked, momentarily stunned. I found myself thinking, how could she not know I was creative? Was it not my badge of honor? It certainly had been during my formative years, before I became more religiously observant. My artistic flair was something that had defined me. It was who I was and I had made sure that everyone knew it.

My artistic flair had defined me I had been performing since I was very little. My mother would take me to her stepfather's nursing home and, toddling up onto the makeshift stage, I would sing for the residents. I sang for the guests at the hotel at which my father's parents served as social directors. From there came lead roles in summer camps, professional theater, and later, educational films in New York. I took endless classes in acting, singing, and dancing. I believed that acting was my calling and was to be my profession.

Not only was I passionate about performance and creative endeavors in general, but, as I got older, I also began to delight in the recognition that it promised. At my Jewish high-school, I was known as the "actress," a title that I wore with pride. In college I took audition-only classes with a woman who had once been a Broadway star. Through the eyes of the people who watched my shows, I believed that I was important. I wasn't merely an insecure teenager or a young woman lost in the big city of New York; I was a budding starlet.

And yet, through this whirlwind of intense training and preparation, I couldn't help but feel like something was missing. After every play was completed, every movie wrapped, I would return home sad and empty, restless for the next opportunity. While I was nourished in the moment by the occasion to use my creativity, the professional acting world held little lasting sustenance. What had begun as intense comradery between actors on a production turned into competition for the next part. The heartfelt emotions one experienced in filming a scene were meaningless once the director yelled "cut," and even seemed silly if the production got bad reviews. Yet still I pushed on. Acting was my life and I wasn't sure what I would find in its absence.

It might feed my ego, but not my soul After I graduated from college, I visited Los Angeles to meet with my first Hollywood producer. It was during our exchange that I fully realized what I would be getting myself into by participating in a fame-driven profession. Instead of a meeting of the minds as I had expected, a deep conversation about my passion for the arts, it was a callous interchange based largely on external appearances. Outer beauty was salable, but inner passion—not so much. After a subsequent meeting with a learned rebbetzin who lived in Los Angeles, I realized that the acting world would hold little internal reward. Yes it might feed my ego, but not my soul.

Shortly after that meeting, I started becoming more religiously observant. Eventually, I got married and started a family. I found deeper, sustaining meaning in the lessons of Judaism, and in my daily prayer and learning. Though I had given up Hollywood, I was finding fulfillment in using my creativity in more subtle ways: taking writing classes, singing with a women's a capella group and taking part in endless make-believe with my children. I was also tapping into my imaginative side through composing articles and stories to inspire and entertain others as well as myself. Most of the time, the part of me that yearned for the fame and glamour of the acting world lay dormant. But every so often, as with the harmless statement at the Shabbat meal, it would hit me. Did I make a mistake so many years ago? Did my life, away from the public eye and the promise of stardom, have significance? At those times it was important to remind myself that fame, as the saying goes, is fleeting.

We live in a society where "greatness" walks hand in hand with celebrity. The more marketable a person is, the more often he pops up on a Google search, the more he serves as a valuable commodity. As a result, people learn to measure their self-worth through the validation of others. Popular websites tap into this need for fame and encourage publicizing one's every thought and whim, inviting comments and endorsements from virtual strangers.

We need to ignite our inner sparks This popularity is not only short-lived but can often have deleterious consequences. Not only can the search for public approval backfire and leave us vulnerable to scrutiny and criticism but, more importantly, it can close our eyes to the natural and human interactive world around us, leaving us lonely and insecure in a small, self-aggrandizing space. What is infinite, however, is the genuine contribution that each individual can bring to the world through the expression of his character traits, and the performance of his good deeds—it is the way in which we can use our G‑d given gifts to nurture and uplift others, not just ourselves.

We will soon be celebrating the joyous holiday of Chanukah in which we light our menorahs in recognition of the miracle that happened long ago. While the candles are initially lit in the privacy of our own homes, the illumination emanates to the outside world, allowing everyone to share in its radiance. Like the lights of Chanukah, we first need to ignite our sparks on the inside and not rely on others to light our flame. In this way, we can truly share our personal glow.

My name is not, and will probably never be, affixed to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame nor, on a more basic level, will everyone I meet immediately recognize my creativity, but I am trying to leave my mark on humanity just the same. So if my greatest acting role will be Elmo in my daughter's living room show, my greatest singing performance will be the songs sung around the Shabbat table, and my greatest dancing gig will be, with G‑d's help, at my children's weddings, then they are ones that I will take on with pride and commitment…and I will consider myself blessed.