Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I'm Just Not Vicarious

One of the big reasons I'm never planning to become an adult is that I have no interest in living vicariously through children.

I've seen a lot of movies where adults were trying to push their children into things that the children were not really passionate about, because the parents had wanted to do the things themselves. You see this a lot in movies where parents want their kids to be professional athletes or performers. Even if that's not the lead character's story, there's usually some character being pushed harder than they want to be because their parent always wanted to be a baseball player or a ballerina and didn't have the opportunity, so now they can have that opportunity through their child.

I never understood this concept. Even if you eliminate the fact that they shouldn't be doing that to their kids, I just never understood how a person could get that kind of vicarious pleasure. I once wanted to be an actor, singer, and dancer on Broadway, and I knew one thing for sure - I wanted to do it myself.  I knew that coaching my own child to be an actress, singer, and dancer - even if my child actually made it to Broadway - would just never satisfy my desire to be on Broadway myself. It wouldn't even make a dent in my dream.

This is not to say that everyone who teaches or coaches someone in their area of passion is necessarily living vicariously. I have friends who are teachers and are extremely passionate about what they do. But I view teaching as a passion in and of itself. Being a teacher or coach who touches people's lives is a goal to aspire to, the same as being a baseball player or ballerina. My point is that if I were going to be, say, a high school play director, I would have to enjoy the directing work itself. I would not enjoy a job like that simply because I love performing in plays myself. If I found that I did enjoy the directing work itself, it would bring me a different kind of pleasure, unrelated to the pleasure of performing. It would not replace performing, nor would it satisfy even the teensiest part of my desire to perform.

I once took a quiz about whether you'd rather be a singer, song writer, or manager. I came out to be both the singer and the songwriter, but not the manager. One of the true or false questions for being a manager was "I like to be near excitement, but not right in the middle of it." This is something that has never interested me. I like to either be right in the center of the excitement and action, or not involved at all. Taking more of a backstage role does not interest me. And yet, I see adults doing that all the time. Everything is about their kids' interests, rather than their own. It's practically expected that part of your life will be about going to kids' soccer games and dance recitals, but it's less common to find adults who are in their own soccer games and dance recitals. It's expected that you'll be up all night decorating for your kids' birthday parties, but it's less common to find adults putting that same effort into their own birthday parties. It's expected that a lot of the fun activities you do will involve your kids doing fun activities while you sit and watch.

When I was a kid, I understood two things for sure. I knew that I lived in a kid-centered culture, where we went places because I wanted to go and did things because I wanted to do them. I'd be playing on the playground and going in moon bounces  and doing other activities meant for kids while the adults just watched. We'd go get ice cream just so I could get an ice cream cone while all the adults were on diets. I saw my parents working hard on my birthday parties while keeping their own birthdays very low-key. I knew that I lived in a kid-centered culture, and I knew that I never wanted to be on the other side of it. I always wanted to go places that I wanted to go and do things I wanted to do. I wanted my life to always stay focused on my own fun and never have the central focus be on making someone else happy and letting them get to be the star while I hold the spotlight. I don't want to hold the spotlight. I always want to be in the spotlight no matter how old I get. I never plan to pass the baton and say, oh well, I'm older now so I guess I'll try to help someone else do the things I'd like to do. That doesn't satisfy me. Living vicariously through children does not satisfy me. I want to always be a star myself, not make someone else into the star that I could have been.

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