I was recently asked in an interview, “at what point would you consider yourself a success”?
Being homeschooled for eight years before entering public school for the first time as a freshman in high school was tough. My sisters and I spent years dreaming of going to public school and living (what we considered) a “normal” life, while others envied us for being able to go to school in our pajamas. As with most things in life, the grass is (supposedly) greener on the other side – especially when you have no idea what the other side looks like.
Most days after we completed our schoolwork, which was usually under 3 hours, we would spend the rest of the day avoiding boredom by being imaginative. Of course we did the usual kid stuff; games and wars with the neighbors, burying treasure in the yard, building forts, lemonade stands, spying on people, putting on shows for each other and our parents. We barely watched tv, and didn’t have phones and other devices to distract us. But while we were getting creative and dirty, what I didn’t realize was how much of a role that time in my life would play in the development of my skills, and preparing me for entrepreneurship and motherhood.
Even before I knew how to spell the word “write” (the right way) I was writing books.
Sure, they might have been 5-paged books written on wide-ruled notebook paper, but I was an author. My books were about summer camp and living in tree houses, and mysteries inspired by the creepy neighbor down the street. Anytime I composed a really great story, my sisters would beg me to write another chapter or sequel. I remember being so proud, even then, to produce something that someone else appreciated and enjoyed.
Looking back, I realize more and more how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to develop not just my writing skills, but also my creative brain, all from being “bored” and having the freedom to daydream when I was young. I am deeply grateful for how those years have shaped me into the person I am today. (Thanks mom and dad!)
As a parent these days, I feel there is a fine line between giving our kids enough freedom to develop a robust imagination, and being too busy. I wish I could duplicate my childhood experience for my own children (although I absolutely do not possess the patience or willpower to homeschool), but the world is a much different place than it was in the 80’s. While some of the people and environmental factors are out of my control, I do my very best to instill creativity and ingenuity in my daughters. When a parent’s focus shifts from scholastic efforts to character-building and encouraging creativity, amazing things happen. The pressure is off. Babies suddenly become little people. They learn how to think for themselves. They come up with ideas.
So I give my kids time to daydream and time to create and time to be free and silly. I encourage them (well, mostly my oldest at the moment since my youngest is only just learning how to walk) to do what makes her happy, even if it may be silly or not “normal”. She embraces her style and goofiness in a way that I truly admire. No doubts. No inhibitions. Just her authentic, innocent, carefree self.
It’s important to me that my girls see their mama living up to that standard as well. Not caring what others think. Being unapologetically bold, driven, and passionate. Working hard to create and build something important, using my skills, owning myself, and learning and growing all along the way. I desperately want them to know they can do anything with their lives, but more importantly, I want them to not fear failure. To not fear judgement. To not fear obstacles.
Because that, I believe, is where you find success.