Is There Such a Thing as Too Much of a Good Thing?
Paris Fashion Week … even the name sounds exciting.
At least I thought so when I was a teenager. I filled an entire notebook with designs, which were really crudely drawn stick figures in strangely shaped clothing. After sewing my first dress, a poorly constructed copy of a Laura Ashley, in my middle school home economics class, I knew I was destined to be a fashion designer … or maybe a television anchor/reporter/movie star.
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Or maybe a marine biologist or an airline pilot.
The point was that when I was in middle school, I knew I had choices! Since infancy, I was told that I had choices. My generation was one of the first born during the woman power movement. I’m referring to the change from the women’s rights movement that focused on equality - to the idea that women were going to be better at everything than men. This was a theme ingrained in all girls born after 1960—it wasn’t only about equality, but that anything was possible—and women could do it better.
As an adult, I’ve come to find that not every parent has subscribed to this doctrine, and at first I thought it was a little sad. My parenting style encouraged both my son and daughter to reach for their dreams. I told them that with effort, they would be successful at anything they tried to do. I absolutely believe this, but I also know that I’ve succeeded and failed at many things over the years. And with so many choices, it sure was difficult to make just one.
Is saying that the sky’s the limit the same as guiding and parenting? Maybe not. One of my favorite sayings … though I’ve come to question it … is “Follow your heart.”
The summer before I started classes at Indiana University, my heart told me to drop out of college and follow a dashing young Italian exchange student to Europe. My practical side prevailed. I didn’t do it, but there were a couple of emotional weeks. I’ve also learned that it is insane to take a family trip to “just visit” the pet shelter. It’s heart wrenching to see all those innocent dogs behind bars, and I dare you to leave without one.
Or, how about the popular advice to “eat when you’re hungry”? I’m always hungry, or at least it seems that I can always eat. I find the aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries irresistible. My husband and I always fight over who gets to open the bag of potato chips … the first whiff that comes from the bag is delectable. Hunger has nothing to do with it. So, here’s the policy I follow: If you don’t want to eat it, don’t buy it. The phrase doesn’t roll off the tongue (no pun intended!) in quite the same way as eat when you’re hungry, but it’s effective.
Is there such a thing as too many choices in life? Did I do my kids a disservice? Maybe those other parents were right … telling your children they can be a marine biologist, a fashion designer, or an airline pilot might be a little too broad. The problem is that I believe in the power of positive thinking. It works—I’ve seen it. Maybe we all need to succeed and fail at lots of things to know when the right one comes along. Filling your kids with confidence before they leave the nest just might be the ticket to their success.
Rather than setting them up to get bogged down in choices, I’d like to think my kids have been liberated!