When I was a student, it was understood that my peers and I would aim high and achieve academic excellence. That meant going to university, getting a degree, and finding employment in a well-regarded profession. And not just any degree either. Certain ones were deemed more prestigious. Law and Medicine topped the preferred list. To be able to tell friends and relatives about “my son the doctor” and “my daughter the lawyer” gave parents plenty of bragging rights.
Since I had always leaned towards the arts and humanities (and wasn’t brave enough to deal with dissecting animals), I chose Law. I wanted my mum to be proud of me.
Now that my kids are on their own learning and development journey, I have often wondered how to balance – if that’s even the right word – my Asian mum aspirations, the reality of the changing workplace, and their God-given inclinations and gifts.
I found the answer while watching movies with the family.
You know how at the end of a movie, you see these rolling credits with all the names of every person involved in the making of the movie?
Script writers. Producers. Designers. Camera men and women. Editors.
Songwriters. Assistants. Extras.
Of these, maybe 1% will be A-listers, the names and faces we associate with the movie, and whom we regard as successes.
The other 99% remain nameless and faceless.
Yet they play an important role. They contribute their gifts, talents, commitment and artistry to enable the project to reach completion and be shared with the world. By playing their part with enthusiasm and dedication, they earn bragging rights of their own. They get to say “I helped in the making of XYZ movie”.
When I realized that, I felt a burden lift from my heart.
Of course I want my children to aim high and to go as far as they can. But not all of us are wired for success as the world defines it. Only a very few ever make the grade, and many do so at a high personal cost.
I believe my children can be just as fulfilled following their heart and doing the thing God designed them to do – regardless of whether they ever make it to the A-list.
So if they never become doctors or lawyers, that’s okay. If they decide to choose a path completely different from what my husband and I would choose for them, if their choices bewilder us, so long as they are doing what they love and adding value to the world, then I hope I have the grace to say “Go for it!”
And the grace to offer a shoulder, a cup of tea, and a listening ear if things don’t work out – without saying “I told you so”.
Because there is more than one pathway to achievement, and the world would be a dull place if we all marched to the beat of the same drum.