by Oluseye Igbafe
I met a young medical student a while ago. In the course our conversation, I asked her what area of medicine she wanted to specialize in, she replied that she wasn't going to specialize but would go learn tailoring and open her own fashion house.
I was stunned, tailoring? "If you are interested in fashion designing, why spend 7years in medical school?" I asked. "Its because my parents insisted I do", she replied, "so let me satisfy them and then I will satisfy myself".
In a way, she reminds me of myself. As a child, I was both talkative and inquisitive. I talked nine to a dozen and could ask questions for Africa; everyone said I should become a lawyer. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer, an American lawyer that is. I saw myself in smart skirt suits giving jaw dropping closing arguments. I watched legal films and read John Grisham novels and all fueled my passion. Yet somehow, being good in sciences, I was ushered to a science class. By the time, I was ready to go to University, I could only major in science as my parents wanted and so died my dream of becoming a lawyer. A few years into college, I realized working in the lab wouldn't be my thing. So I never practiced the course I spent 5years studying.
To cut a long story short, I stumbled through several jobs till I found my niche. Today, I am a trainer per excellence (even if I say so myself), a Learning and Development professional. In this niche, I am very comfortable; I think this is what I am meant to do. I guess the talkativeness was a talent and not a vice after all. (lol).
Why am I sharing these stories? Many parents dream of what they want their child to be. They push and prod their children to become what they wish they were. You have to study Medicine, become a Pilot, an Astronaut or a Footballer. They minimally take into account the wishes or desires of the children. "Become an artist, a dancer, a designer? You are kidding me!" they say; so they take their round peg kids and force them into square holes. The best ones still thrive, though they are unfulfilled in life while majority have a difficult time becoming who they don't want to be. They fail and stumble along the way, they lose the light in their eyes, never fully achieving their potentials.
The lesson today is, we need to guide our children in becoming who and what they want to be and not coerce them to become what we want. Funny enough, not all Doctors are successful and aren't there many frustrated lawyers, footballers, accountants and you-name-it?. Those professions are in themselves not a guarantee of a successful life, especially when there is no passion for it.
So will I allow my child be an artist? Yes, but she has to be the best there is. That is the second point, we must train them to be the best in whatever they want to be; no mediocrity allowed. "You want to be an artist? Fine, go the best art school, millions of doctors are unknown while Leonard Davinci is a global phenomenon. You want to be a composer? Outshine Beethoven! You want to a gymnast? You must make the Olympics".
The point is, our job as parents is to help our children be the best version of whatever they want to be. Support them in making choices that will fulfill their potentials, recognize them as unique individuals and allow them explore their talents. They are not opportunities for us to live the life we wanted to live or do the things we wanted to do but couldn’t do. Don’t try to re-live your life through your children, allow your children live their dreams.
Do you have a story or an experience to share? What are your thoughts? Please do share. I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by