Since the age of 8, my child has told me that she will be performing on Broadway. For most of the years that followed, I secretly wished she would find some other interest, knowing that a career in theater is not only tough and wildly competitive, but also hardly lucrative. I don’t think it’s unreasonable not to want my child to struggle. But what if that’s the path that will make my child a happy adult someday?
I have found my happiness as a writer, another tough, wildly competitive and hardly lucrative career. Why would I ever stand in my child’s way?
One might say that steering her in a different direction is a way of protecting her. Yet I’ve resisted the urge to force her into other paths that also play to her strengths. She is a talented actor and singer, but is also particularly skilled in writing. The apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree; her father was a writer, too.
There are no writers in his family or mine. My parents, aunts and uncles all opted for the perceived safety of careers in engineering, medicine and law. I know the road has been tough and competitive for them too, and the relative financial success they have achieved is not much different than mine. I don’t know if they’re as fulfilled as I am in what they do, though. Fulfillment fuels happiness — and isn’t happiness what we’re all after?
Happiness is a malleable emotion, adjusting and refining itself around experiences and circumstances that also force our own adjustment and refinement.
I lost the ground under my feet five years ago, but I’ve gained so much since. Because I’ve had no choice but to trust myself to make every decision, I’ve become more confident. Because I’ve had to figure out how to stretch everything, including my own limits of time and tolerance, I’ve grown more resourceful. Because I’ve had to accept what I cannot change, I’ve gotten better at finding joy.
So there we were on Saturday, my child and I, returning from the last of her four middle school musical theater performances in three days. The shows followed a months-long after-school rehearsal schedule that kept her away from home 13 hours a day. As we walked the block that separates the subway exit from the entrance to the apartment building where we live, I said, “You must be exhausted!”
“I am, but I don’t care,” she told me. “This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
May we all allow ourselves to live our dreams.
With love and purpose,
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Dear Fernanda, congratulations on moving to NYC.
From a Brazilian living in AZ who will retire in a few years and hopefully move back to Brazil.
I love that she is living her dream and that you support that.