Last year, I remember being asked in an interview, “at what point would you consider yourself a success”?
Being home-schooled for eight years before entering public school for the first time (as a freshman in high school!) was tough. Really tough.
My sisters and I spent most of our childhood dreaming of going to public school and living – what we considered to be – a “normal” life.
While others envied us for being able to go to school in our pajamas, we envied them for their perfectly structured schedules and social lives. As with most things in life, you assume the grass is 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 in about 3 hours – we would spend the rest of the day beating boredom by being imaginative. Of course we did the usual kid stuff; paper routes, games and sports, burying treasure in the yard, building forts, lemonade stands, spying on the neighbors, putting on shows for each other and our parents.
We barely watched tv, and back then we didn’t have phones or tablets to distract us.
But while we were being goofy and getting creative (and very dirty), I didn’t realize how much of a role that would play in the development of my skills, and how it would ultimately prepare 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… at least in my house I was.
I penned stories about best friends and 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 a sequel. I remember being so proud of myself, and a little bewildered at how easily the writing came to me.
I realize, looking back, how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to develop not just my writing skills, but also my creative brain during those years. Years that I spent wishing wishing I was somewhere else.
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 certain human and environmental factors are out of my control, I do my very best to instill creativity and ingenuity in my daughters where I can.
When a parent’s focus shifts from academic abilities to allowing a child’s creativity to flourish, amazing things happen. The pressure is off. Curiosity happens. IDEAS happen.
I give my kids the freedom to daydream and be goofy. I encourage them to create things and to play pretend and to sing or dance or do whatever they feel like doing, even if they look silly doing it. My oldest is so good at this… she embraces her uniqueness 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 while using, nurturing, and improving my skills. Owning who I am 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. To know that there is no limit to their dreams.
Because that, I believe, is where you find success.