The tale of an introverted daughter of an extroverted mother
All through K-12 I kept my ear to the ground, listening keenly for any and every possible thing my very introverted daughter might be interested in, inspired by…
I considered it my JOB to watch for signs of what might spark her curiosity hoping to discover the thing to bring her out of her shell- and get her out of her room and into the world.
You see she preferred to be alone with her pens, her pencils and paints and piles of paper, solitary, making art and listening, deeply listening to music- in the beautiful world inside her own mind…
To see this and respect this space is how she feels seen.
But I was taught you need to ‘GET OUT THERE’...and that came naturally for me.
Ballet, tap, jazz, orchestra, marching band, art class, roller skating. That’s how I grew up- running in a mad dash from class to class. Busy on stages everywhere- trying to be seen.
But as a parent, useless I would sit, every morning, waiting with my coffee, on a sofa full of eggshells, while she got ready for school.
This was an onerous ordeal- HIGH SCHOOL.
And she developed elaborate preparation rituals in order to cope
For 2 hours each morning she toiled and troubled over her hair and makeup. When it worked, and the curls and eyelines were just right, she could walk out the door relatively calm. But when the curl wouldn’t hold and the angle of the line was off…let’s just say, she’d be late.
Gym days were the worst.
Her art was the only thing I KNEW contented her.
And still…. I felt I was supposed to push her ‘outside her comfort zone’. Go outside- walk around the park- run. MOVE. talk to people. I thought her introversion would inhibit her success in life- and that she needed to get over her anxiety-
THIS ISN’T HEALTHY I thought. And we fought. Oh how we fought.
After much prodding- she got a summer job -behind the scenes- setting up props and ushering. And she found great joy, facilitating the production from backstage.
She was excited, inspired and I was elated.
And she went on to study theatre-tech in college. but when she learned that as part of the course, she had to also take acting and improv classes, she disintegrated.
I explained the benefits of doing ‘something that scares you’
The benefits of ‘facing your fears’, I tried the ‘what if’s’- what if you tried, what if you can…but I could hear in her tone on the other end of the phone that she was paralyzed inside at the thought….The anger she felt to be judged, to be graded on her performance - for something she had no interest in doing.
Our conversations became quite heated. As a parent- I thought- wasn’t I supposed to enforce consequences and withhold financial support should she ‘choose’ not to go to class, ‘choose’ to throw away this opportunity…
She did not go to class. We were at an impasse.
Maybe there is a different path for her,
To be honest- I don’t think college is for everyone my partner said.
I have the words ‘to thine own self be true tattooed to my arm….to remind MYself-
For someone who preaches against judgement and for curiosity, as someone who BELIEVES IN and teaches that we all have agency to write our own story, I had to reckon with myself.
WHAT IF there is a different path for her? WHAT IF she doesnt ‘have anxiety’ as much as she is frustrated with being pushed in directions she doesnt want to go?
What if The specific design of her body and mind are built for something else?
And with that, I woke up.
I asked her what she truly wanted.
She wanted off of the stage and out of the spotlight.
And I told her what I wanted- which was for HER TO BE PROUD OF HERSELF.
I said you can leave school on one condition- You must choose something that truly interests you- and learn about it.
We considered the possibilities…what she already loves- art school? nO- she said- I dont want to kill my joy by having to do it for a grade.
So she went to AVEDA INSTITUTE! And she chose this. This was a huge step in her exercising her agency over her own story.
Later, after months of reading and practicing with mannequin heads- she got her first live client.
She called me and said - WHY- WHY MUST THEY SPEAK? Why must they share so. many. Things.??
and she didn’t know what to say and did not want to talk and wanted to run away and she said to me…Can’t we just do their hair in silence???
I laughed- and I thought-
WHAT IF you CAN?
What if you said- HI IM VICTORIA AND I REALLY DON’T WANT TO CHAT- EXCEPT FOR WHAT IS NECESSARY TO DO YOUR HAIR.
I mean- ‘to thine own self be true’. WHAT IF you could say- I DO MY BEST WORK QUIETLY.
And I want to give you my best.
It took me a long time to realize that I had been inadvertently pushing her to be inauthentic, to be untrue to herself.
It took BOTH of us recognizing And respecting that there are so many possible paths-
And that with some thought, we can all have the agency to find our own way.
I said I dont care if you ever cut someone’s hair out there in the world-
I care that you feel good about yourself. I care that you are proud And proud does not mean loud.
It’s funny- We are taught that in order to get ahead we need to be BOLD- we need to be LOUD and stand our ground
We are taught to take up as little space as possible and not to rock the boat…
It seems like we are brought up and taught to do a lot of things that contradict each other.
We are taught to be quiet. And told we must speak up.
We are taught to be patient and to wait.
And we are told that we have to go out there and get after it.
We are taught to be polite. And we are told to be 100% that bitch.
We are taught not to be annoying. And we are told the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
WHAT IF WE WERE TOLD-
This ABOVE ALL- to thine own self be true- and then it shall follow - as the night the day, that thou canst then be false to ANY