Handling my parents’ expectations was always a struggle. For example, I learnt the word university before I learnt the word school. On top of that, my parents would always sing praise for our family’s GP and were dead chuffed when my eldest brother was accepted into med school. It didn’t take too long to figure out their expectations of me too.
I eventually decided I wanted to become a teacher. My parents didn’t take me seriously to begin with. Then they began to seriously disapprove when they realised how much I meant it.
A motivational speaker once told me that people who discourage you from your dreams can be called ‘dream stealers’. These weren’t just people who were simply jealous or mean. The worst dream stealers were the people who loved you most. By extension, they also feared for you the most. My parents fit right into that category.
To battle ‘dream stealers’ the motivational speaker advised us to either prove them wrong or convince them of our dream. It was great advice with little substance. The obvious question was “How?”
How do you convince two of the stubbornest, most loving people in your life of something they refuse to believe in? What power on this earth could possible move them to think otherwise?
Following the silent fights, tense conversations and angry tears, it came down to three things:
- Learning to back myself. I had to firstly convince myself that being a teacher was something I actually wanted regardless of my parents. I had to be so sure in case I could never convince them. If so, all I would have left is myself and I had to be sure my dream was strong enough to last the distance.
- Understanding why my parents didn’t believe in my dream. This challenged me to reason and solve the problems they saw. I gained perspective and empathy whilst becoming more determined to achieve my dream.
- Underneath the harsh judgment, loud opinions and hurt feelings, I knew my parents loved me. I was sure they’d rather have me in their life as a happy teacher than not at all as a bitter doctor.
So I’m well and truly on the way to becoming a teacher. My parents still drop subtle remarks once in a while but it doesn’t matter so much anymore. Now that I’ve reclaimed my dream, I think of my parents as my one-time ‘dream stealers’. As such, I jokingly add ‘dream stealers’ to the list of the other words I use to genuinely describe them;
Unwavering guardians, fierce protectors, loving role-models but most of all,
My Mum and Dad.