Don’t Limit Yourself: A Lesson From Adolescence

Wednesday, I accompanied my daughter as she auditioned and interviewed for a local arts high school. Afterward, as a family, we went out to eat together to celebrate this stage of the process. The four of us talked about high school, the future, grades, and we laughed at our lame fortunes from a folded up cookie. We always talk and laugh. The four of us.

Painting of a family mural
The Hollands. The Four of Us.

We started talking about college. My oldest daughter can be very pragmatic–things like cost and distance worry her.

During dinner I said to my oldest daughter something like, “I wish I had this opportunity when I was your age. I wish I had the endless possibility that is before you…” You know the speech.

She interrupted with a half-smile, because she is thirteen, and said, “Don’t be one of those parents that tell their kids to do something just because you didn’t.” She said this with a light heart. She knows I am not one of those parents. I don’t have to hover because my kids don’t try to get away.

The conversation paused for a moment while we paid the check and walked back to our van. This was my reply (to the best of my memory):

“I don’t regret one decision in my life. We make choices and take advantage of opportunities in front of us. We make the best choices at the time–and sometimes we make the wrong choices. But that is different than regret. You have your whole life ahead of you. You can go to any college you want to. Don’t settle. Don’t think about the cost. Make a decision and then figure out how to get there. Get out. Explore. Just don’t limit yourself. Ever.”

She was gave me a very thoughtful reply: “okay, Mommy.”

“Okay, mommy” from this teenager translate to, “That makes sense. I understand.”

Joe and I have talked to many artists from many different backgrounds. Visual artists, actors, writers, the list goes on. The artists who come through our Ignite class are not necessarily the kids fresh from college. Some have established careers. Others are looking for transition. And there are those souls who believe it is never too late to start something new. These artists know the value of hindsight–not regret.

But you don’t have to take 10 years to figure out how to be a sustainable artist. You can get the help you need now. I am reminded of the Blackberry slogan: “Be bold.”

It was my husband who told me about the Corridor Principle. The idea is that you don’t see the open doors until you start walking down the corridor. But the trick is…you have to start. Start something new. Do it today. Plan as if you have your whole life ahead of you. Set goals like an adolescent.

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