Where do you draw the line between following your passion and dealing with reality? My answer is simple: When the check bounces, figure out ways to make money now. We have all read the popular saying "Follow your heart" and have in one way or another charted the course of our lives with this as a driving force. But at what point is it okay to say, While I'm following my dream I need to keep a check on my reality?
I meet people every day who are young, passionate, full of hopes and dreams, ready to take on the world, striving to make their creative ideas see that light of day. As a creative person who has been there, done that, I never discourage such people, but I always want to remind them to have a solid plan to pay their bills on the way to accomplishing their dreams. My parents encouraged every child they had to pursue a dream. They were happy to support whatever we chose to do as long as we kept our grades up. All through my primary school days I spent most of my spare time jumping from one after-school club to another, trying to discover my gifts. I tried the French Club and added a little drama. I learnt early that language wasn't my thing and drama required a lot of practice. I moved on to the cultural groups and tried learning how to dance. That was fun, but a part of me knew I wasn't cut out for that.
One evening I decided to try out music, since everyone I knew said I had a great voice. I felt right at home from the very first rehearsal. My voice was really good, and it didn't hurt that I looked good, too. I started singing in every concert and at the youth church. I was sure I had finally found what I was gifted to do. A lot of folks back then thought I would grow up to be a musician, and I believed it, too. My parents were supportive, or so I thought, until I had to take the Common Entrance Examination to gain admission to secondary school. Then reality hit. My dad slammed the brakes on all singing activities, and I was only allowed to study, study, and study hard. The exams came and went, and I was admitted to two schools. One was a day school in the city where my parents lived, fifteen minutes from our house. The other was a boarding school in another city, 637 km from where my folks lived. For the first time, I was presented with a real-life scenario, and I wasn't sure I could handle it. To stay or to go? That was the question, and whatever I chose would affect my life.
I remember my voice instructor talking to me one evening. He wanted to know what I had decided and where I was going to study. If I went to the day school I would be able to continue building my singing career and attend rehearsals after school, he advised. But that would mean divided attention at school, which could result in my not pursuing a proper education. At least that was my parents' fear. If I went to the boarding school, I wouldn't be able to actively pursue my singing career but could focus on my education. The battle in my mind went on for weeks, but as the resumption dates of both schools neared, my parents made a decision after a long talk with me. I went to the boarding school. I didn't particularly agree with my dad back then, but now that I’m a mom I can see reason. His theory was simple: The boarding school gave me two options. I could learn something and get an education that would make me something in life. From a professional career perspective, that was guaranteed. And when I came home on holidays I could always pick up where I left off with music. If my music career picked up during the course of my study, then we could change the arrangement and I could come back home. Well, the rest is history. After my first term at school, I lost interest in pursuing music professionally and ended up going in the career direction. It was at school that I discovered my passion for writing, and I'm still loving it.
Thinking back, I wonder what sort of advice I would give a young person in a similar situation today. Would you advise a youngster to study to become a doctor or take an art course if he’s gifted in art? Would you encourage your son to play in the after-school soccer club or join the science club? Would you encourage your daughter to pursue her passion in design or complete her law degree? Life isn't always black and white, but we all try to make the most of it. Would you follow your passion or deal with reality?