When I was a little girl I wanted to be a professional football player. I was a pretty decent quarterback and from the mini play session with the kid I can still throw a rockin' spiral. As you may have noticed - I am not an NFL quarterback.
My mother told me that in order to become a pro I'd have to weigh over two hundred pounds (at which point I'd have cottage cheese thighs) and be willing to get smashed into the ground by three hundred pound linebackers. I gave up my dreams that day. It wasn't because I was afraid of cottage cheese thighs - it was because someone told me that I couldn't do it.
Over the years I added Marine Biologist (Nicole you'll end up inspecting fish for King Soopers) Psychologist (Nicole you are crazy enough on your own. Do you really want people catching that crazy?) Astronaut (Nicole you're very nearly blind - they'll never let you in the program. **This one hurts the worst. I really wanted to live the Star Trek dream**) and tucked away in between all of those dreams was - Published Author.
I kept that last dream to myself. I didn't want anyone to take that away. The problem was - I'd already become a defeatist. It took twenty years and the prodding of a very very patient woman (thanks sj) to get Huntress out the door. Even then I was pretty sure that I'd fail at this. It wasn't until after I'd published Rifts that I thought to myself - Um, maybe I can do this.
If you asked me in an honest conversation whether or not I thought that I was successful at this (despite beating the publishing odds) I would probably tell you no. But this blog post isn't about me.
When the Kid was five he said- Mommy, I want to be GI Joe! My eyes widened and I said - "But you'd have to go to war and kill people. You don't want to do that! You don't want to have to kill people do you?"
He quietly shook his head and said - "No Mommy I want to be a good boy." At the tender age of 13, his father and I have shot down at least five career choices. One was sketchy and we could envision him living on the streets or worse - In our basement. The other one was nearly impossible to get into and while he wouldn't be homeless, he wouldn't have a personal life outside of work and the hours and pay suck. This went on and on until a few months ago he came to me and said - "Mom, I want to be a stand up comedian."
I held my breath. I widened my eyes ad nodded. I asked - "Do you know what's involved in doing this?"
He said yes that he'd watched dvd's and read articles. He was going to do it. I wanted to tell him - baby most comedians don't make it. They live hand to mouth. I want a better future for you.The litany of reasons why he would fail flurried through my brain like moths.
I called his father and said "Did you know about this?" I was incredulous that this dream had gotten past the other gate keeper.
And then I realized something very very important.
Today - I could be an NFL quarterback if someone had said - YOU CAN DO IT NICOLE! I had turned into my mother. I was shooting him down and narrowing his choices so that he'd become average. I was producing an average child with no hopes and no dreams above producing a paycheck and providing me grandchildren. (Shut it - I'm going to be a great grandmother.)
It's occurred to me that we are producing an entire generation of mediocre human beings. Few are lucky - they pursue their dreams and they make it. They have a supportive tree of encouragement that goes beyond the question - Will you make over forty thousand dollars a year doing this?
His father bought him a blank notepad that he lovingly calls his joke book. I've suffered through countless bad jokes and bad accents. We decided to let this kid break through the mold and be his own person and realize his own dreams. We only ask that he goes to college. If anything he can fall back on that philosophy degree and become someone's personal assistant if the comedy thing falls through.
There are no guarantees for personal success. There is only the hope that if you can dream it, you can do it. Somewhere along the line I'd lost sight of this.
It's back in my sights though and I'm going to treat myself as kindly as I can. The Kid and I are working on this personal happiness and dream thing together. I will continue to suffer through his heinously bad jokes until he gets better and he'll continue to remind me to pick up milk because I get wrapped up in a character and forget that there is a real world.
The point? Don't forget what that seven year old wanted to be. It may be a bit late to join NASA but don't give up the spark that is uniquely you. Live outside of the graph and realize that normal is a setting on your washing machine.
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