To my youngest as you talk about your career goals,
Sometime before you had even hit the age of eight, you looked at me wide-eyed and asked, “Mommy, when I’m older can I be a police officer [like his father] or a soldier [like his grandfathers before him]?”
I choked back the tears just thinking about every implication of those career options and replied, “I will support you no matter what career you choose, as long as you are kind, make an honest living and can support yourself by doing it.”
Today, my dear, as you told me for the one-hundredth time that you now want to be a professional video gamer and I rolled my eyes at the thought (again), I realized that I lied to you. I wasn’t supporting you “no matter what career you choose”. I was casting judgment on what seemed to me to be a silly way to make a living.
And I know I’m not the only one who’s done it to you. Just the other day, you told me how one of your teachers snickered when you did a presentation on what you want to do when you grow up. I’ll admit it, I silently nodded in agreement with her while you told the story.
Perhaps it was the sudden gut-punch of recognizing the pain lurking behind your eyes that no one understood – that no one was listening to you – that made me realize my mistake.
At that point, you were my mirror, son.
You were the mirror of every look, every tear, every doubting thought (from myself and others) that prevents me from abandoning a successful career to pursue my own passions.
How had I missed that before now?
I mean, I wrote an entire book about pursuing your passion… and just a few days ago, I gave a talk about how to bring your passion to life!
But here’s the thing, son. When it comes to you, my job is to get you going down the right path to make smart decisions in life. So while I cannot say that I agree with your current choice for your future and I cannot promise that I won’t roll my eyes once in a while, I can promise you that from here on out, I will be more understanding and will arm you with the tools to make those smart and right decisions in life – no matter what career path you choose.
- You will continue to work hard for good grades in school
- You can and should practice your passion wholeheartedly, but you will not shirk your responsibilities in doing so and must still abide by all rules related to game-play time
- You will make your mark as someone who is kind, honest and sportsmanlike on and off the field (no matter what field you choose)
- You will go out of your way to learn more about this career path and all the required steps to pursue it (and be successful at it) and then make your best effort
- You will understand and respect the possible impact of your choices on you, your family and your friends and take a step back when and if called upon to do so
If you can commit to all that, son, then I promise you we will work together to pursue your wonderful.
But just remember that one day, you’ll still need to support yourself.