Like most people, as I grew up I learned how the world works; how I was meant to behave, what I should aspire to and what was expected of me. Ever fearful of not being accepted, or acceptable, I was terrified of getting it wrong and being rejected. I was 'good girl' and did my best to fit in.
Once I became a mother I discovered I had as much to learn from my children as they did from me. Just by being themselves they challenged me and my ideas about what is acceptable, what is important and what it is to be yourself. In fact, along the way, they have challenged most things I have been led to believe about how life works. For many years my response was to fight against them, believing I knew best.
Eventually, I began to be more curious about their view of the world, and gradually by giving that time and attention, I was able to see that the conventional way was not the only way.
Education was done differently. Not at all what I had expected to happen. Not GCSE's but a BTEC in Music Technology. Not A levels but a BTEC in Circus Performance. I found it really hard to let go of my expectations of how it was meant to be. I still wanted to share in the joy of GCSE results day. I wanted to send them off to the school prom dressed in their finest. I wanted to celebrate the milestones we are led to believe are the desired ones, and the signs you are on the 'right' track. I won't pretend it was easy.
What I have admired most about them both has been their ability to not be distracted by what they think they 'should' be doing. Now in their 20's they both follow their passions. They are constantly learning, because they want to, and are always busy with projects that they have chosen, and that they are motivated to undertake.
They are not conventional. And I am so proud of them. The world is changing, and needs to change even more. We don't need more of the same, we need people who are able to be different. People who are willing to focus on what matters to them. People who are not suffocated by what they believe is expected of them but people who are daring and courageous enough to do things differently. And these people need others around them who believe in them, who are willing to let go of their own preconceptions of how it should be, and trust them, to have their back, and wholeheartedly cheer them on in their endeavours.