As I was on my way back home from a session with my personal trainer, I couldn’t hold back the emotions that I was feeling that day. With an explosion of joy, I burst out into a happy gleam and told my mother that I have been talking to a boy and it was going incredibly well. Now this post is not an in-depth description of my new love interest (I’ve learned from my past mistakes), instead this post is about a thought I had following my moms first questions regarding this new guy: “What does he do as a career? Does he make a good living for himself?” She asks like she expects any twenty-something year old will be making a solid $80,000 a year or more. I calmly reminded her that her twenty-five year old son, that is currently in law school, makes minimum wage at a law firm and is still living at home. Of course she got defensive. “Oh dear, I don’t mean to imply that money is important, I’m just curious to know what he does!” Sure. Believable.
In any case, I told her that he works at a retail store as his part-time job. His main job, or as he likes to call it hobby, is being a musician. Quite well-known in his small town, he performs all kinds of events throughout Ontario. My mother gave me a stare. The stare that says aspiring musician? that’ll get him far. I ignored her stare. At one moment my brother too was a musician. He played in a reggae band, released his own album, and played in a few house parties around town. To this day he practices music. He’s soon releasing a leisurely album of songs he wrote and performed. The solo artist. Growing up my brother said his dream was to perform. His love for music was one of passion. I envied that passion. If only I could feel so passionate towards something so beautiful. Reminiscing about my brothers band only made me more angry at my mothers hateful stare. Wouldn’t you rather someone follow their dreams than conform to what society deems “appropriate career option?” Yes of course honey, I was just joking.
I know my mother would like to be joking, but deep down she wasn’t and although she would like to teach her children that you should follow your dreams, she doesn’t. As a hardcore feminist, my mother believes that people (especially women) should aspire to acquire higher education so that they can give themselves the best possible chance at a white-collar, prestigious job. Why wouldn’t she? She’s a mother that wants to see her kids succeed in a world where money is status, money is respect, money is success. She wants to see her daughter succeed in a male dominated world. The only way to succeed in a male dominated world is to show men that, as a woman, I can live a satisfying life without relying on the wealth of a man. “We need to be independent! We need to show men that we can do it all on our own! We need to show them that we are intelligent and that we are equals in the workplace!” Mother, I could not agree more however, understand that I don’t need a high-school diploma, university degree, white-collar job, or a mansion on the hills to prove that I am successful. I will express my success in the things that I value, not the things that society wants me to value. Sure we could all conform and be replicas of one another living in a bleak, black and white world. Or we could express ourselves through our passions. Why burst the bubble of an aspiring musician because he has a different view of success than you? Why force your children to give up artistic qualities so that they fit into your schema of a successful person? Be different! Be the pop of color in a black and white canvas. Be the rainbow over the dark, gloomy sky. Don’t conform to societies view of success if what you are doing makes you truly happy. Promote creativity, promote diversity, promote passion. Most importantly, promote expression.