Living up to our parents’ dreams


Raise your hand if the following has ever happened to you.

You call home and say: “Hey! Great news! I (insert accomplishment / something you’ve been working towards)!

Parent: “Oh, that’s great. You know what else you should do now?…”

All you really wanted to hear was, “That’s great! / Way to go! / We’re so proud of you! / We knew you could do it!”, and, cut. No add-ons or ways you could improve on it.

Sometimes a supportive parent adds to the weight of ambition.

It’s natural for parents to have hopes and dreams regarding what they think their children can accomplish. They see all of our potential, and they want to encourage us to achieve everything within the realm of possibility.

In addition, parents may see where they could have worked harder for their own goals, and they don’t want their children to miss the same opportunities they did. They want us to shoot higher, go farther, and have even better lives than their own; improve with each generation, right? They want more for us.

As sweet as it is for our parents to want us to ‘be all we can be ‘and ‘live out our dreams’; it equates to a lot of pressure because we don’t want to let them down.

Obviously, they aren’t intending their encouragement as a burden; but, nonetheless, it’s quite a load to carry. We never feel done b/c we’re conditioned to keep trying to reach the next level up. Face it, we could almost always be doing more.

For all the phases when they saw me grow and learn every day, it’s a bit more sporadic, and sometimes even stagnant, now. Think about it. Our parents have seen us learn everything we know, and the first twenty years were pretty exciting and filled with accomplishments. Now, most days are pretty much the same, so there’s less to report.

It’s not that I don’t want to keep striving to be better; it’s just that I don’t know how to judge how far I’ve come or how I’m doing because there’s always another step I could be taking.

As well-intentioned as encouragement from loved ones is, will there ever be a day when a call home includes the words, “You’ve become more than we ever could have dreamed. Why don’t you just sit back and feel proud of what you’ve already accomplished for a little while.”?

I’m just going to throw it out there that I’ll likely never make headlines. I see this as a positive considering some of the headlines out there. (Hello, Weiner tweeter!)

I want to keep making my parents proud, but sometimes I wish they saw a little less potential in me. Yes, it would be amazing to be a best-selling author, famous singer, the next Jillian Michaels, or a chef on the Food Network, but I’m also really okay with being (mostly) normal.

I know my parents are proud and love me no matter what I do or accomplish. I’m not questioning that at all. What I’m trying to find is a healthy balance between ambition, and enjoying life as it is presently.

When I hear all of the things my parents believe I am capable of accomplishing, it scares me. Instead of hearing it in a completely positive way – which I know is how it’s intended – I see how much farther I have to go, and am acutely aware of the possibility that it will never be fully achieved.

In order to appreciate who I am today, I need to know that it’s okay if I don’t go for the gold everyday (or, even make it to the games). As glad as I am knowing my parents think I could be great, it would be even better to hear that good will do.

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