Thursday, August 04, 2011

[Stay Tethered or Break Free?]

Before I begin my venting, a non-related thought. The blog's got a new look! Have you seen it yet? It's making me feel pretty cheery. I still don't have favorite colors, but I have colors of the moment and power colors, and these are mine. Step outside your RSS reader and come on by!

And, now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I just wrapped up a three day visit with my parents. They're good people who want what's best for me and want to make sure I'm secure in the world. Totally great. Totally understood. Really. I just think that we have different ideas of, well, a lot. Now, so far, they've been supportive of my art venture. Mom's been showing off print-offs of my pieces and helping spread the word at her church and in the family. Thanks! I'm grateful. They want me to keep doing this, and they're actually the ones who originally suggested doing something like this, so they get credit for planting the seed.

However, sometimes they place more emphasis on worldly success than makes me comfortable. Yes, I'd love to be well-off and have a stable income. Really. That's been my goal with the adjunct teaching all this time. But my ideal would be to be a full-time artist, not a teacher, and make enough money to remain comfortably out of debt and free to indulge once in a while.

Don't get me wrong--I like teaching, and most days, I like dealing with my students. I like helping them. But there's a mentality and even a hostility I get from a select few every semester that creates a perpetual sense of dread when I have to deal with their resentment, overtly or not, day in and day out. I like to be liked. It really bugs me when I'm creating plans and assignments to benefit my students' mastery of writing, and then I read some vicious slams in the end-of-the-semester evaluations. Granted, this is more than balanced out by those who enjoyed the class, worked hard, and allowed these activities to benefit them. However, they aren't usually the ones who take the time to fill out the evaluations. And I suck at the thick-skinned, laugh-it-off attitude. It hurts a lot. So, given the opportunity should my art take off and gain enough of a following that I could reasonably make it my full-time work, yeah, I wouldn't look back.

Unfortunately, I mentioned this to my parents, thinking they would support the idea of my pursuing my dream. After all, weren't they the ones who always said that I could do whatever I wanted to do [occupationally] when I grew up? Weren't they the ones who suggested it to begin with? And didn't I make it clear in the conversation that I wasn't talking about right now, but down the line if or when I have steady income coming from the art, equal to or greater than my teaching salary [I did, by the way... I emphasized that over and over again]? But they panicked--Mom in particular, but Dad did the same a little more indirectly by essentially saying the same thing while pretending to see it my way. We talked and argued for a long time. I cried.

Yeah, it bugs me. I had really felt at peace about this whole art thing. I felt like the door was opening at the right time, giving me the opportunity to do what we all dream of doing--pursuing my passion as a career. I mean, if no one took a risk and pursued his or her dreams, we'd all be little worker drones in cubicles (no, there's nothing wrong with being that, but it's not something EVERYONE should do). I mean, I'm in my 20s (late 20s, granted, but 20s all the same), with no family to support--just a mortgage to pay. What better time to do this? I could wait until retirement, yes, but what's the guarantee I'll even live that long? We're not promised today, much less making it to retirement. And I'm not seeing a lot of full-time teaching opportunities coming my way, so it's not like I'm managing to save up for retirement.  So I want to try. And that scares my parents, robbing me of their support when I want it most. (No, they don't read this blog, so kindly don't mention this to them, please?)

Now, I get where they're coming from. No, really, I do. They're pretty transparent about it without saying it outright, but they're in their 70s now. Dad's 73, and Mom will be this month, and their health could be far better. They know the realities of being senior citizens, and they worry about me. They want to make sure that I'm safe and secure, with no need of emergency rescuing, should their time come. I get it. I respect that. But I've lived that way too long--never taking any risks, never taking a chance on something. I've always taken the safe route and lived in fear of screwing up. It's not healthy. And so yes, I resent their continued cultivation of that particular neurosis. I see where it's stunted my growth and relationships, and I want to change it. I'm not talking about throwing all caution to the wind, but rather taking some reasonable steps further.

I just wish they'd stop trying to talk me out of it. I mean, they've successfully talked me out of: studying abroad, becoming a missionary, taking road trips, and more. They don't realize just how much of an influence they do have on my choices, however vocal I may be when resisting.

There's a reason I have the quote from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan that I have as my blog title: "To live would be an awfully big adventure:" because I'm still speculating and imagining without doing it. And I'm scared to death that this is one more time that I'll give in and stay dreaming without doing.

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