Let’s get something straight. You are not your parents. You are not created to live their life for you. There is a difference between respecting what your parents accomplished and wanting to follow in their footsteps versus them wanting you to follow in their footsteps. I watched many kids from high school delve into high, professional positions. Do you want to know what most of them are like now? Many of them have gotten a lot of gray hair and used a lot of Botox. They are successful but if you look at their pictures, you can see the falseness that is displayed through their body language and even from their eyes. It’s like being able to see past the façade and into their soul. Some of them are doctors, attorneys, professional bankers, accountants, etc… I don’t envy them. The ones that truly love what they do are represented by their core. Money doesn’t always equate to happiness. Neither do success and power.
Being “you” is undefinable. Sure, we can label the point of time that we are in and label a person based on a profile. But it’s not accurate. We have so many sides to each of our personalities that there is no way to utilize one label to define who we are. My whole life, I grew up as a preacher’s kid. Many said that I should have become a pastor because I did a nice job helping my father deliver his sermons when he became too weak to talk. Can I let you all in on a little secret? My father didn’t enjoy a lot of the pastoral role. It became so political that Dad often felt like a fish out of water. People tend to forget that pastors are people too. I can attest to the fact that pastors often are held to a higher standard. They are on call 24/7. There is no such thing as a part-time pastor. Just because a title reflects that does not mean that the reality is the same. Some folks have no business being a pastor. I know one in particular that has had a lot of growing pains and while he is still learning, there are days that I’d like to give him an education in becoming less dense and more sensitive to issues involving his congregation. I guess I just need to leave that up to God. Lord knows, my faith has been routinely tested in trying to help raise his awareness.
My mom was/is a nurse. She’s retired now but that doesn’t mean that she stops learning. The woman can do circles around many in the same age bracket and younger than she is. She finds medicine fascinating. She gets frustrated with me because I don’t share her passion. I’ve always been more creative in the musical and writing arts than she is. My love stems from music and writing. I guess it’s because I have dreamed so many clips of untold stories in my brain that I hear the melodies before they are written and see the stories play out. I’m now working on a book that has several of those stories coming to life. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s well-received or not. All that matters is that I take a chance on myself and my imagination.
I know several families where kids feel pressured to follow in their parents’ footsteps, but my question to them is why? If they love the same things as their folks, I can understand that rationale. I have a difficult time understanding why people follow in the footsteps of their loved ones when their heart isn’t in it. When that happens, it’s extremely difficult to find happiness. My family has a business in that when my mom dies, the business will go to me. I’m not sure I want to keep it going. Their business focused on my parents’ strengths, not mine. If I do keep it going, it will be to revamp it to more of a style for me with the understanding that when I die, the business will probably fold since I have no heirs to pass it to and while I have a ton of cousins, they won’t be getting a piece of the pie because they will have no use for it and I’m not willing to just leave them money. It will be spent quickly. Plus, there is the fact I have very little money of my own so that’s another issue.
My point is this. We all have strengths and weaknesses in our lives. Many parents dream of leaving something for their kids to nurture and love the way they did. But is it really what the kids want? Engage kids in conversations about what’s important to them. The world has changed dramatically over the last few years. We don’t want people in jobs that they don’t want to be. Yes, we all need to earn a living. Sometimes a short stint in positions is the best thing for us but getting stuck in a mentality of having to do what our parents did is dangerous. Be sure that the passion is there. Kids grow up and do well when they are excited about what they are doing. Something tells me that when you have those tough discussions, you might learn a lot about each other and what’s most important.