Gender & Identity, Life

My mother has always supported my dreams of becoming an artist, but I was the one who rejected it

Art is all I've ever wanted to do, but I kept stopping myself from going for it. My mom was there to help.

I’ve always wanted to share my art. From an early age, my active imagination took on a life of its own. My head was filled with vivid imagery and music that I could not contain. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Maybe it’s because I was so loud about it, but I can’t remember a time when my family wasn’t cheering me on and fueling all of my young hopes and dreams. Specifically, my mom.

I’ll be the first one to admit how lucky I am to have a parent who cared so much about my emotional fulfillment. But, for better or for worse, I was determined to make sure that I never ended up as anything less than financially stable. I wanted to be an artist. But the fear of failure and continued poverty nearly took the wind out of my sails – until recently.

My mom is my best friend – I’ll just lay that out there. I have never started a venture without first consulting her for wisdom and advice. So when she saw me struggling with confidence as a kid, her first instinct was to help me become more involved in something that I loved. And let me tell you, I really did love it. From performing music to creating stories, I was most certainly in my element when I was in an art class. Art of all kinds felt natural and healing, like some magical band-aid on all the knee-scrapes that come with youth. I flourished.

But as I got older, the anxiety of real life kicked in more often than I wanted. I’d spent most of my years being praised for having talent, but couldn’t seem to happily marry talent and success in my mind. For me, it felt as if chasing after my passion was irresponsible. I’d been given the gifts of college education and unyielding ambition. The struggle of my family didn’t have to always be so difficult. I could make a future where they were taken care of. I could create that for us.

But still, my mom urged me to sing. She urged me to write. She gladly praised me to all who would listen, and softly encouraged me to follow my heart. It wasn’t her fault that my heart was so torn. I was simply too familiar with the taste of failure. The idea of having it on my tongue for the rest of my life was enough to scare me senseless. Or, at least, it was enough to scare me into thinking that I wanted to be something other than an artist.

I spent a lot of time working in a field that my heart just wasn’t in. My mom could see it, and it broke her heart too. How could it not? I was standing there with my entire life ahead of me, longing for adventure, but refusing to move my feet. It must have been torture to watch. Still, she didn’t give up singing my praises. Nor did she stop reminding me where my heart was: “You’ll never be satisfied until you go for it.” And of course, mom is always right.

Nothing is how I imagined it when I was younger. But then, what could really live up to that kind of imagination? The life I live now is bursting with art. I follow my heart and I listen to my intuition. I understand now how to exist on my own terms and not allow the world’s idea of responsibility to take over. There is food on my table, love in my heart, and peace in my mind knowing that I am happy in what I do. The rest doesn’t matter. And I’ve always got someone who truly cares about my happiness on my side. I think that’s worth a lot more than any career could have given me.