My son is a creative type like me, and for a few years now, he's been saying he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He's also very mathematically minded, and he's good at figuring things out and making them work. So when he says he wants to be an artist, I say things like, "You know architects use a lot of art. You should think about going into architecture," or, "What about engineering? Engineers always have to visualize the outcome, just like in art."
But did I ever say, "Yeah, art! Follow your dreams son, be an ARTIST!"?
No. No, I did not.
Oddly enough, my response was given out of love. I love my son. I don't want to see him living in a 1-bedroom apartment with 3 other starving artists eating ketchup packets for breakfast and spending his weekends in a blood donation center selling his plasma to pay the rent. So I discounted his dream. And it never occurred to me that that made me a- I shudder at the word- naysayer.
Then I saw this:
I was so moved by the article and the incredible artwork that I knew I wanted to share this inspiring story with my kids. And then I realized that if I did that, my son might realize that being an artist was actually an attainable thing and might want to do it more.
And I hesitated.
And then I smacked myself in the head and said, "Hello, SELF?! If your son WANTS to be an artist and it is his passion and his dream are you seriously going to sit there and try to convince him not to??! If you don't believe in him, how the heck is he ever supposed to believe in himSELF?!"
Then I got some ice for my sore head and called my son in to sit next to me on the couch. I said, "Sweetie, there's something I want you to see." I opened up the article and read it again with him, watching his face light up, hearing him gasp and say, "That's SO awesome!" as we scrolled through the incredible images.
When we were done, I looked at him and said, "Son, if you want to be an artist, then I want you to be an artist. But, as you can see, it requires work. But if you want it, I know you can do it, and I will be behind you one hundred percent."
I think he said something like, "Cool, Mom," and went off to do Legos or something, but it was definitely a wake-up call for me.
What if I was aching to be a writer but constantly had someone saying, "Well, yeah, but...secretaries write. Why don't you think about being a secretary?" or, "Advertisers use a lot of writing. You should think about getting into advertising." Well-meaning, caring people are not the same as people who believe in you and push you to follow your dreams.
I don't want to be well-meaning and caring. I want to be my kids' champion. I want to be their biggest fan. I want to root for them and cheer them on all the way and tell them they CAN.
And while I'm doing that for them...well, I think I might just do it for myself as well. After all, look what happens when you actually stick to your dreams...
Incredible artwork by Noah Bradley