I dated a woman in grad school whose parents took care of her. Good care.
They paid her rent for a nice apartment, took care of her bills, gave her a car, and so on.
“She needs it,” her parents said.
And they needed to be good, supportive parents.
In their minds, why wouldn’t they support their daughter? Why wouldn’t they help her when they had the means to do so? This way, the thinking went, she could focus on what was really important: her studies.
And you know what? They were right. She was able to focus on her studies, get her degree, and get a job. She climbed up the ladder in her field, ending up with a prestigious job with a rock-solid paycheck. Mission accomplished.
From the outside, she’d “made it.” Certainly her parents were proud and I’m sure they felt like their efforts paid off in spades. After all, it worked.
But having been with her at the beginning of her career, there were some hidden costs from her parents’ support. The biggest being that she postponed her mastery of a critical skill, the skill of making decisions for herself. After all, why do that sort of work when it’s being handled for you? I wouldn’t.
The real kicker is that if you’re not learning how to make decisions for yourself, you lose focus on what you value. When you’re unsure on what you value, it’s not unusual to find yourself somewhere down the road, feeling lost wondering, “How did I get here?”
Ironically, what brought us together as a couple was our mutual love of freedom. She really wanted to be an artist, but nowhere along the line did she need to CHOOSE to be artist. She never had to make that choice for herself. And so she never did.
Instead, she proceeded down the carpeted path that others laid out before her. Without fully realizing it, she traded her freedom and her love of creating things for a sack of gold. Her job became her life. She had little time for anything else, including the family she desired. Her job dictated what she did, when she did it, with whom she did things. Her job determined where she lived. Our lifestyles got far enough out of sync that it no longer made sense to stay together. And so we didn’t.
Going back to those grad school years, I was on my own. My parents were not involved financially or otherwise. Why would they be? I was an adult. They had their lives to tend to and I had mine. And in my life, I had to make decisions. Did I want to live in the $350 apartment, the one I could afford, or the posh $700 apartment and take out a loan to do so? Hmmmmn. Did I want to get a side job to pay for my car and insurance or ride my bike? Hmmmmn.
When I finished my degree and my only job prospect was in Alabama, a geographic area that had no appeal to me other than the glimmer of a paycheck, I knew that it was time for me to go in another direction. The freedom of living where I wanted to live trumped taking a job just for the money.
As I look back, I believe there’s nothing more valuable than having the clarity of your own preferences. As a result of learning how to take responsibility for my own decisions, my life is aligned with what I value (freedom) and really, alignment is the whole secret to a Very Cool Life. This is the creation I am most proud of today. This is what I want for people who desire a life of freedom, ease, and connection.
All these thoughts started percolating as I’ve been hearing lots of parents talk about their teenagers lately. The common complaint is that the child doesn’t value anything or shows no direction. All they want to do is connect online, or play games, or text on their phones (which they are constantly losing and breaking).
Who buys the phones and pays for the service, I ask?
“Well, me…” they all say,
…But, they need it.”