Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't be moldy.

I took a lot of roles out of necessity when I was a kid. I lived on a mission-center, so I was mom's back up line server, an office envelope-stuffer, and an on-call (world class) floor sweeper. Before I was a teen, I was mom's assistant chef, I could clean the whole house just like mom would do it, I could pack half the family for a PR trip, and I was a BCMC poster kid. I never minded it. That's how my life was, and it was great.

I don't want there to be a "but" at the end of that sentence. I've tried to figure out how I can word it, because "but" makes it sound like I have regrets. I don't have regrets. But...

My parents have never pressured me to pursue a particular profession. Often, when coming from a mission, or even a church, background, people around you will expect you to follow in your parents footsteps. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the question, never from my parents, but from the people around me, "So, do you want to be a teacher when you grow up?" Back then it was cute that I wanted to be an Astronaut. "Oh, the things that kids say!" It got more annoying in high school when I decided to be an art history major. Then it became, "So you're going to be a teacher like your mom." (Actually, I wanted to get my masters in library science and become a curator.) You'll note that the question mark disappeared.

When I switched to theatre, the question became, "So what are you going to do? Teach?" You should see the look on their faces when I say I want to do theatre in Chicago. They say, "Oh. That's interesting," with a subtext of, "So you're not going to be furthering the Kingdom of God." (Upon reflection, when they ask me if I'm going to teach, maybe I should just say, "Sure.")

I could write a whole post on my college choice alone. "Go to Chicago? Are you sure?"

Maybe it's because of this pressure I've resisted to become a teacher that I am so reluctant to discuss what Emma will be when she grows up. People might make off-handed comments, and I usually say "Ballerina." That is only because when I was pregnant with her, Meng and I went to see a Joffrey matinée, and she danced through the whole first performance. The truth is, I want to give Emma every opportunity she wants to be whatever it is that she wants to be when she grows up. (Within reason. Obviously if she decides to be the next Hitler, I'll take issue.)

Needless to say, when the in-laws were discussing Emma's future career choices with me, the conversation didn't last long.

I've seen a lot of people from my childhood grow up to be exactly what they were expected to be. There's nothing wrong with that, if that's what you want, but don't let the world around you try and punch you into a mold. Reach as far as you possibly can. When it comes down to it, the only resource we're short on is self-confidence. Go change the world. Not the other way around.


  1. I love this!

    May I link the last paragraph into my blog, Ninety-Nine Lives? It would be an honor!

  2. I would be honored also! Please do!

  3. I had the exact same problem going into Vocal Performance (at NPU, btw). My parents were supportive, but everyone else would say, "Oh, so are you going to teach?" "Um, no. I'm going to perform vocally."

    Incidentally, I am now happily interviewing for insurance sales positions and intend neither to teach or sing. =) Great post!