I am the daughter of two of the most loving and supportive parents. They taught me right from wrong, instilled in me a relentless work ethic, and showed up for every softball game as I daydreamed in center field. They encouraged my ambition and praised my accomplishments.
However, with ambition comes expectation. I was the obvious black sheep of the family. Instead of being pleased that I was a rule-following, motivated young lady with passion and life goals, they continuously suffered the disappointment of my choices.
As a dream-chasing Millennial, I am so skilled in disappointing others that I have narrowed down the process to five simple steps:
1. Recognize their attempts to condition you into loving their own personal hobbies. See how they set you up in a Michael Jordan jersey for that photoshoot at age three? They didn’t pick that because it complemented the background. They are trying to control your future hobbies. Humor them by complying with their forceful wishes for you to be on the basketball team, but shame them at every game with your general lack of talent, enthusiasm, and effort.
2. Once you reach high school age, assert your individuality. Immediately quit all activities they coerced you into during elementary school. Replace them with the hobbies you actually enjoy, but endure their disappointment for the rest of your life as you star in the spring musical instead of being recruited for a college basketball team.
3. Go to college for a degree in the humanities. Watch their confidence in you float away like an escaped helium balloon. Endure their questions like, “What are you going to do with an English degree?” and statements like, “I’m just concerned about your future.” Don’t forget to study abroad so you can take out a few extra loans to discuss gothic literature in another country.
4. Proclaim yourself an activist. Call them out on any sexist, homophobic, or racist comments. Make it clear that your humanities degree is turning you into a hippie liberal. Observe with pride as they start avoiding any conversations that could spark a debate on “victim-blaming” or “the patriarchy” whenever you are around. Announce to your parents that you are going vegan and can no longer eat the food they lovingly raised you on. They will question what they did wrong in your upbringing for you to hit this new low, and they will hide their faces behind their menus as you ask the waiter if the soup of the day was made with chicken broth or contains dairy.
5. Decide you hate your job. Quit the career you spent four years of undergrad preparing (and paying) for. Enroll in a private school and take out thousands of dollars in student loans to earn your master’s degree. Watch them attempt to hide their disappointment in your failure as an adult as they dutifully offer words of support and love.
Most importantly, do not forget to thank them and remind them regularly how much you love them, for these are the victims of your life choices who continued to love you regardless. Without their powerful nurturing, you never would have become strong enough to disappoint them with your fruitless pursuit of personal fulfillment.