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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I just finished the letter from "Wanting to Be a Star," the 12-year-old girl who wants to be famous instead of being a "no one." I felt exactly the same way when I was her age. Living my whole life without making my mark on the world weighed heavily on my mind. My biggest fear was that I would have the same sort of ordinary life my parents had. However, something happened when I was 15 that forever changed my view of the purpose of my life: My father died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

My parents were regular people. Mom was a housewife who volunteered at our school, in Girl Scouts and church. She also coached my softball team. Dad worked five, sometimes six days a week as a salesman for a company most people never heard of. He volunteered his time helping others, serving on the school board, and always made time for his wife and children.

My parents taught me by example how to trust and be trustworthy, to be kind to strangers and generous to those less fortunate. They worked hard to give us kids an education and a strong work ethic. Because of them I learned that it is more important to be loved by the people you know than adored by the ones you don't. -- KAREN THOMPSON, MARYSVILLE, PENN.

DEAR KAREN: You ARE a star -- a shining example of your parents' unconditional love. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and have been working on my acting and dancing skills for years. It's finally beginning to pay off. I have some advice for "Wanting to Be a Star":

(1) Don't be intimidated by those with more experience.

(2) Don't expect jobs to come looking for you; work hard and don't give up your dream.

(3) Always have a backup job you can enjoy while waiting for your break.

(4) And always be yourself. It's better to be a real nobody than a fake somebody. You were born an original. Don't become a copy.

Good luck -- and "break a leg!" -- KELLY IN DELAWARE

DEAR KELLY: That's terrific advice, and it applies to every career a person could aspire to -- not just show biz. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, come from humble beginnings, and like "Waiting" I also had dreams.

I enrolled in my first ballet class at 18. I was a "natural" and was chosen to participate in a 10-week program taught by a well-known choreographer. My parents were not pleased. Their philosophy was founded in the post-World War II mentality that men went to work and women were homemakers. In an effort to compromise, I worked full time as a secretary and went to college in the evenings. Because the dance course was held during working house, I had no choice but to decline the opportunity that was offered to me. I was heartbroken.

After 20 years, I am still a secretary. I would like to urge "Waiting" to sit down and make a plan. And she should follow that plan until she reaches her goal -- regardless of what anyone says. Breaking into the entertainment industry may be difficult, but waking up each day to go to a job you hate is even harder. -- REGRETFUL IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR REGRETFUL: While it may be too late for you to have a dance career, it's not too late to volunteer some of your free time to a dance company. Or, if the urge to perform is too strong for that, you may find a creative outlet in folk dancing or square dancing where the accent on youth and agility is less than it is in ballet. Trust me -- you'll have a ball!

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600