Her face beamed proudly as she told me about her teenage sons. Her eldest son in particular, who was achieving top marks in all his subjects in his final year at school.
But then her eyes flickered with worry as she looked down at her food.
“He’s just told me he wants to be an actor,” she said.
“Oh wow. That’s exciting,” I said.
“No, it’s not,” she said shaking her head. “He’s far too smart for that.”
“But you have to let him follow his dreams,” I pleaded. “Especially if it’s what he really wants to do.”
“I know all that,” she said looking back at me. “But honestly, who wants their child waiting tables while they chase dreams most people never achieve?”
I could have pushed my point harder, but I hardly knew her, so I chose to spare her of my own 'could’ve been' story. You see I once shared her son’s dream and academic results. I also shared the same loving parents who had (and still do) my best interests firmly in their hearts.
When I announced my desire to be an actress, my parents supported me every step of the way (and god bless them they did… the countless musicals and recitals they sat through is time they will never get back). But they also gently persuaded me to have a 'backup plan'.
My backup plan was a Journalism degree and not long after graduation I received my first monthly pay-cheque from my 'backup' corporate job. I still occasionally took acting lessons at night. But as I slowly became accustomed to the stability of a well-paid professional career, my thespian dreams gradually faded away.
Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely no regrets about the professional path my life has taken. None whatsoever. My journalism degree turned out to be the best backup plan I could have ever hoped for. Today I love what I do.
But sometimes, I do wonder. What could have happened if I had thrown caution to the wind and chased that dream without a backup plan to distract me? Would there be an Academy Award sitting on my mantle or a waiter’s order pad?
Later that night, I replayed in my head the conversation I had with the woman at the dinner party. And as I pulled the doona up over my sleeping daughter’s shoulders, I wondered how I would truthfully react if she declared her dream was to be an actor, a singer or a traditional artist.
What about you? Will you tell your children to chase their dreams no matter what? Or will you gently persuade them to have a backup plan?
|Source: Perttu Sironen via iStockphoto|