I’m amazed by the number of young people I meet who feel they’re stuck in a limbo; caught between their dreams and a society that thrusts its dreams on them.
Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? This is a question that haunts them and us at various points, especially when the people around us are trying to constantly answer this question for us.
It is a universal truth that it is difficult and uncomfortable to be different, so why not just conform? The mold is there for a reason, right? While I can’t answer that question for you, I can tell you that the mould didn’t work for me and I continue to meet so many young people who have had that same realization but can’t do anything about it.
Growing up I was fortunate to have parents who thankfully didn’t load me with too many expectations other than having good manners and being kind and respectful towards others. I was allowed to grow and evolve into who I am today. I made my own choices. Made my own mistakes (plenty of), but I learned along the way.
Now as a teacher, I am more and more aware that the many expectations that parents hold can linger over their children in such a negative way. The general expectations have developed over time and through our culture and they are not necessarily wrong, but for children they can be quite a load to bear.
I met someone recently whose parents have just enrolled him in a course in chartered accountancy. He has no option but to attend. What he really wants, is to study film-making in the USA.
It is so sad that some parents want their children to fit into these water-tight moulds. It can be exhausting sometimes for teenagers to remain true to themselves in an environment where everyone expects them to be something else; someone that they don’t want to be.
Sadly, as long as these young people are dependent on their parents, several of them are going to have to conform, to fold, to play along in a symphony that drowns out their own voices.
I know that most parents mean well. But I think that as educators, we need to remind them that sometimes freeing their children of these expectations is as important as teaching them right from wrong, and doing so will have a profound impact on the adults they grow up to be.
To the kids who read this and say ‘hey, that’s me’, realize that you are in good company. Almost all the great people in history chose to break the mold and to walk their own path when they had the chance to. At some point you will have that chance. So be the square peg in the round hole. Colour outside the lines. Dream and pursue those dreams. After all, moulds are too mainstream.