Like many, I had an average middle-class upbringing. My parent's professional lives and beliefs were submersed in academia. My father was a teacher, and my mother worked in a University. For a while it seemed as if our careers were all mapped out. Marks were all-important, as they would be a ticket to University and gainful employment. All four of us kids ended up in one of the professions - Business, Science, Medicine and Engineering.
Looking at our lives now it's easy to say we did well. But I wonder what would have happened had we chosen a different and perhaps more creative path? I had a talent and passion for languages, yet was told that job prospects would be better if I studied business. My brother had a passion for writing and acting, yet there was no way he would be allowed to follow that dream - at least until he finished the requisite degree.
Many families have the seemingly universal thought that a career in the Arts is just not "acceptable." We still see the scenes in movies and television where distraught parents utter the words..."Agh! He/she wants to be an actor!" Why is there still the stigma that a career in the Arts is an automatic ticket to a life of virtual poverty?
When I see what's happening in the world, I feel what's needed are more people who are able to inspire us through film, theatre and writing. We need more people like Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Capra and Jim Henson. Actors, directors, writers, playwrights - they all have a story to tell, and their words are of just as much value as those used in the more traditional and "noble" professions. They are valuable because they move people and, in some cases, are able to motivate people to change their lives in a positive way.
We need to motivate and inspire more young people to consider the Arts as a career. If we move to think outside the box, an artist doesn't even have to be an 'artist' in the traditional sense. A businessperson with a visionary idea can build a company with the same talent and passion as a painter who strives to communicate an idea through a paintbrush. A public speaker who is able to inspire an audience to action is a true artist.
It's time to place more value on people's ideas and abilities to inspire and motive others. If you have a passion early on in life, follow that dream - and don't let anyone tell you it's impossible.
What stories can you share on a similar subject? How many of you are sitting in jobs right now wondering what would have happened, had you followed your instincts and gone against the advice of others?