Before I was a dance instructor, before I was training to be a cop, before I was in sales, I had a very different career path. In Grade 12, I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a marriage counsellor. I grew up with my parents being separated and I knew how much it affected me, how I missed that masculine energy being raised by my mom and I wanted to help. Once I came to this realization I excitedly went home and told my mother.
“Mom, I’m so excited. I’m going to be going to university.”
My mother immediately interrupts “Of course you are going to university! What are all these sacrifices for? Yes, you are going to university! Doctor, lawyer – good jobs.”
“No, no listen. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to be a marriage counselor.”
“Ah, I see…Ok…what is that?”
“Oh, well for couples who are going through difficulties, I want to help them. I want to be there for them.”
Now she’s really confused, “You get paid for that? That’s a job?”
So I explained it in more detail. “It’s like a therapist. Like a doctor but for the head.”
My mother is nodding her head in understanding. “Oh, ok!”
Then immediately shakes her head “Nooooo”
Now I am confused. “What do you mean no?”
She immediately responds “No, it’s not good for you. Settle for a doctor, lawyer. Those are good jobs.”
I am immediately defensive. “No, no-no. It’s the perfect job. I’ve thought about it for so long.”
“Baby, you are a very sensitive boy. You will be working with people who are suffering and going through difficulties. You are going to take that on and it is going to affect your mental health. It is not right for you. You are not doing it.”
Now I’m angry and hurt that she doesn’t support me. I responded with “It’s going to happen. I’m going to university. I’m going to study Psychology. It’s all going to happen.”
For a year we battled. We argued all the time. She had career interventions for me where she had cousins from overseas call me every couple of months and I would go through this same conversation. It was exhausting and frustrating, but I was stubborn. I followed what I wanted to do and went to study Psychology at university.
About six months into my studies, I’m really happy and I’m enjoying life. I came home from class one day and my mom sat me down and said “I’m looking at you and seeing how happy you are and I just want to say I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” I asked.
“I’m sorry that I almost got in the way of this. I was worried about you, but you love this. It makes me so proud.”
So I hugged her, I was crying. I wanted her validation. Of course, she did take it a step further. “Oh and also I have a friend. She has – what you call it – depression? She will pay you.”
“Mom – no! I am not licensed or equipped for this!”
We go back and forth and she tries to convince me. She has gone from being a roadblock to being my biggest cheerleader.
It was a really special moment but I can’t dismiss the year and a half that I fought for my territory. And yes my career path was long and winding but I still ended up in a place where I help people. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be a marriage counselor and it is one of the many reasons I enjoy being a dance instructor.
Don’t let other people’s limited vision of where you can be, stop you from being or getting where you need to be.
I have hedged and held back on my hopes and my dreams and what I wanted because I listened to other people.
Your heart will always point you in the right direction. Most people focus on what you are doing and they may disagree with what you are doing.
But they are blind – they miss the WHY. Fight for your territory and get what you want.
You deserve it. But in order to achieve it you need to battle for your WHY.