I am driving the car doing my best to appear invisible. I am listening to my fourteen year old daughter Emily, whom I unschool, talk to her friend Risa who attends the local public school. They are planning their future, well, more so Risa. She seems concerned about her future more than Emily. Since my journey in Sunlight I am fascinated with how people figure out what they are going to do for a career, how they are finding and living their purpose. The social, institutional and parental pressures that our on our youth as they feel they need to plan the rest of their lives by the age of eighteen. The golden age.
I listened Risa tell Emily that when she was choosing her electives she was not able to take what she wanted, home economics, because her mother felt she needed French. I noticed disappointment in her voice wrapped in a sense of responsibility towards her parents. I see Risa as a pleaser and not someone who would show her parents any disrespect by not taking their advice.
After everything I uncovered about purpose in my book Sunlight, finding yourself and living your life seems very important. Those feelings of being lost and pleasing others can grow and be so overwhelming. It can spiral out of control leading to depression and health issues. It saddens and frustrates me to see yout not taking a path that interests them now due to so much pressure out there.
“Do you know what you want to do after high school?” Risa asks Emily. I turn to look at Emily because I am curious to know her answer. Then I think, here I am putting indirect pressure on Em simply by looking at her waiting for answer. Like the answer to this question matters right now. Does it? I wonder. No, I don’t think so. Emily has just begun her exploration of herself since we pulled her out of public school at the beginning of the school year. Emily is still a bit raw, a baby exploring her craft and herself.
“No …” says Emily with a bit of curiousness in her voice and a smirk on her lips. I wonder what that is about? I know she is aware of what her passions are but not sure where to take them yet or what to do with them.
Risa seems more tense about the issue of picking classes now, entering her Grade Ten year. Decisions that could impact the rest of her life. Oh the weight we put on these decisions. Weight that comes from institutions and society wanting the best, wealthiest, people out there. Tension and doubts rest in her thoughts about making the right choices. Choices that seem so big and overwhelming that often one looks outside of themselves for answers when really, anyone outside of the seeker can only give guidance. I guess that is what Risa’s mom is doing.
How many of you got close to your dreams when you were planning your classes and future in senior high? Any classes you wish you took or are thankful your parents talked you out of?