Dropping My Parents’ Dreams for My Own

On dropping out to follow my dreams.

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“I’ve applied to Sport Check,” I tell my mother on the phone after telling her with genuine optimism that I’ve dropped out.

“Your cousin used to work there,” she retorts. The cousin she’s referring to is often called a loser or a knob by my dad. His notable attributes include stealing from family members, including my brother, and constantly complaining about injuries that may or may not be real. My aunt, his mother, ups the ante (haha pun) by not only stealing from family members, but from charity and the government for her pretend ailments.

By saying this, my mother is implying that I will be stooping to the level of my “loser” relatives.

 

On the precipice of my third and final education practicum, I have begun the process of withdrawing from the education program. I will not be receiving my second degree. And I am okay with that. In fact, I’m overjoyed.

At one point during my last practicum, the teacher assigned to mentor me asked, “Do you enjoy teaching?”

I responded by staring at him, at a loss for words. Was it that obvious that I was miserable? Or was he just asking an innocent question? I didn’t want to show my hand, to reveal that I was an impostor, someone who was there because they loved literature and felt like they had no other choice but to teach, I stuttered back at him, “Why do you ask?”

“I think it’s an important question to ask, don’t you?”

“It is an important question,” I agreed. And then I let my facade fall. I told him that I’d thought about dropping out every single day since beginning the program, and that I don’t actually like children.

He wasn’t offended. In fact, he really helped me get through the rest of the practicum. I wouldn’t have survived without his support. But I never answered his question, “Do you enjoy teaching?”

I’ve finally been able to answer it, after all this time (Dumbledore? How long have you been in my head? Probably always, I’m guessing. Har har.). I’m sure you can guess what my answer is.

Maybe I’m still off from going off of my anti-depressants and that’s what made me finally walk away, especially when I only have four months left. Unstable. But I don’t feel like it. I feel optimistic for the first time in forever. Shout out to Frozen for ruining that cliche (as if cliche’s could be ruined). In fact, I think that this decision shows that I’m finally ready to be happy, and start living for me. The opposite of instability.

In my journey towards happiness, I’ve begun to reevaluate the values that I’ve held my whole life only to realize that they aren’t actually my values. They’re my parents’ values, and societal values. But they’re not mine. For example, quitting. Quitting isn’t the end of the world if what you’re quitting makes you feel dead inside.

I’ve always held the thought that I could work in a menial job if I had the time and energy to work on my art, writing, and find happiness. I’ve held this dream close to my chest, quietly cradling it and never actually saying it out loud in fear of judgement and discouragement. The stigma associated with retail or serving or “low brow” jobs always stopped me from trying. It was an issue of pride (Lion King reference, I guess I’m on a Disney kick today).

Speaking of Disney, I’ve been fangirling over this Youtube star called Jonathan Young hard. He does Disney songs in punk or metal style. I’m obsessed. But it’s not just because he’s extremely talented and matches Benedict Cumberbatch on the sexy voice scale. It’s because he’s just a regular guy who really likes making music. He started off making videos in his mom’s basement. He worked really hard, and now he’s living off of the money his art makes. That fact always made me sob internally. He made me feel like I could do it, like that could be me. But I wasn’t even trying. I couldn’t because of this stupid career path.

Back when I was volunteering to get into the education program, a teacher from my high school told me that writing and teaching isn’t a possibility because the work of teaching never ends. Even though it’s technically only a seven hour day, the work comes home with you, and you lose your lunches to supervision and your evenings to plays or coaching. It never ends. I ignored her. I thought that I could persevere because writing is too important to me, but I understand now. Teaching drains me infinitely. There’s no room for anything else, for passion. I don’t want a life like that. I don’t even want to sacrifice another four months–the length of this practicum–of my life to that. And I’m not going to.

I am so proud of myself.

“I’m not my cousin,” I say to my mother, a bit too harshly.

“I know,” she says, “but you’re better than that.”

Am I? I think. No. Because I’m dropping out to follow my dreams, to give myself a chance to succeed at my passion and to feel like I’ve accomplished something that actually matters to me. I’m dropping out to be happy, to seize every moment I can. I’m not better than happiness, nothing is. That’s why I’ve made this choice after all.

Wish me luck.

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