Recently, my youngest daughter (who just turned six) watched the new Veggie Tale DVD, Princess & the Pop Star. This particular story is about two “girls” who switch places. One is a poor farmer lass who wishes to be famous and the other is a rock star who longs for a simpler life.
After watching the DVD several times, my daughter came up to me and motioned for me to bend down as she usually does when she has something secret she wants to tell me. (As the baby of the family, she rarely has the opportunity for privacy!).
With a shy smile, she whispered, “Mom, I know what I want to be when I grow up.”
I took her sweet little face in my hands and gave her my fullest attention. “What do you want to be, honey?”
She glanced around to make sure none of her siblings were within hearing range. Then she leaned closer. “I’m going to be a rock star.”
I drew her into a hug, pressed a kiss against her silky head, and said, “That’s wonderful. I’m sure you’ll make a fantastic rock star.”
My eight-year old son also had a recent what-I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up moment. For some reason, he’s really into Batman. He reads Batman comics, plays with Batman action figures, and fights Batman style at every opportunity (you know, the-kicking-the legs and swinging-the-arms thing).
One day he declared, “I’m going to be Batman when I grow up.” But, he didn’t whisper it to me. He said it at dinner where all his siblings heard him. And of course, my three teenage children who are in the let’s-be-very-realistic stage were quick to inform him that there was absolutely NO way he could be Batman when he grew up.
Fortunately, my little man doesn’t get discouraged easily. And their nay-saying didn’t sway away him from his desire to be Batman someday.
If there’s one thing about parenting I’ve learned over the years, it’s that I don’t need to be the voice of realism to my children. Instead, I need to let them have wild dreams. I need to let them believe they can accomplish whatever they set their hearts on. And I need to encourage them to go for it.
Because, the fact is, there are going to be plenty of other people and situations that will eventually be that realistic voice. My kids are going to get slapped around, battered down, and told that they can’t do it.
Why should I be the one to do that dirty work?
I want to be the one to uplift them, believe in them, and encourage them (along with teaching them to work hard!). Because who am I to say that my daughter won’t be a rock star when she grows up? And who am I to say that my son won’t be a super hero someday in his own special way?
As a published author, I don’t need to be the discouraging voice to beginning writers. If I meet someone with slightly unrealistic expectations about publishing process, I don’t need to make sure they know how hard it is. If I read someone’s work, I don’t need to give a full critique and point out every mistake. And if a writer tells me they’re going to self publish their first book, I don’t need to remind them of all the pitfalls.
Instead, I can be an encouragement. We all can. Because let’s face it, we’ll all have to swallow our fair share of realism eventually. In today’s tough market, the industry is brutal enough without all of us nay-saying each other.
So, I say to each aspiring writer: You can do it. I believe in you.
What about you? Have you gotten discouraged lately because of well-meaning but negative advice or conversations? Are you surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and encourage you?