Right, I pick up from last week on how I stopped being a child star. At the end of the second month of hosting a children’s TV show, I got my letter to join high school. The stars had aligned; the school was just down the road from the station, surely it was meant to be. So I told my mum how we can work it out with the school so I can go to the station to shoot on Saturday mornings and be back in and balance the two lives. After all, the school had a student who was an international athlete or something like that and she would be allowed to go out of school for tournaments. It was possible. My mother said, “You go to school and study.” Just like that. No follow up, no argument. I was angry, after everything I had been through!! But she was adamant, school first, “these other things” can wait for later.
To get her point, let me give you a bit of a back story. My parents, and specifically my mother, hold education as something sacred. Especially education for women. You see, my parents are very much baby boomers but the African boomer is not the same as the western boomer. They came from the village, their parents were farmers and traditional or, if lucky like my mother’s dad who served in the army and was a bit more exposed to the world. Everyone in my parents’ generation grew up to be a teacher at some point and other careers depended on how much more you would be fortunate to see the world. My grandfather and his brothers, having served in the army agreed that they would educate their children to O-level (form 4 I think) and from there, as your fortunes would take you. For girls, and there were many on my mother’s side, your fate thereafter was dependent on the man who would marry you. If he decides to keep you home, well that’s that. If he advances you, thank goodness.
She loves the empowerment that education brings and to today, her preferred charity is towards anything about education.
My mum is a firstborn and smart and therefore the measuring stick of what to do with life. Thankfully when my dad got his eye on her, she was staying with a very woke uncle who made my dad promise that he would help her advance in education and career. She got to A-levels (form 6), became an untrained teacher then a trained teacher and got a scholarship from a Canadian education project to do her degree. It’s an amazing story, I hope I will share it in full later. Anyway, she got educated and it inspired many people, men and women alike. She loves the empowerment that education brings and to today, her preferred charity is always something towards education. She mourns when someone smart doesn’t get to finish their education because of life. She mourns the opportunities lost, the wisdom missed and the fortune that skips a person without this advancement or who doesn’t use their education wisely. Education is sacred to my mother.
And that’s how I said goodbye to the bright lights of my tv show. We spent the last month recording a few episodes to hold over until they got another host. Au revoir! My grudge faded with the tumultuous years of high school adolescence and drama club again, which was really more dramatic than primary school drama, and I moved on. Until one day years later, I think I was in university now, I saw a newspaper feature, that had an article on parents with exceptional children and one of them was a child actor and, take a wild guess how his acting career started. On my show!!! I remember pointing to it and telling my mum “This could have been me!!” And all the disappointment of having to give it up came back like a flood.
In response to why she denied me a chance that would have put my life on a totally different path, she said simply that she had to make the decision that was best for me, that would give me the best shot at life.
At this point in my life, my mother would speak to me as an adult and she had shared about her life and her struggles so we had a civil conversation about this topic too. In response to why she denied me a chance that would have put my life on a totally different path, she said simply that she had to make the decision that was best for me, that would give me the best shot at life. She had tried her best and she was sorry that it wasn’t what I imagined for myself. In her path and understanding, school is always first and that would have interfered with my concentration. Her generation did not understand the arts and she would have felt like a failed parent if it had not worked out for me. Fine, it worked for that other person, but who’s to say that it would have worked for me. I couldn’t argue back to that.
My mother is the bomb though. She’s a really good friend to me and I love that. She is also melodramatic and that explains a lot about me. For example, to inspire me to be independent, she once told me “I won’t be here to take care of you forever. I’m old, I’ve enjoyed my life and I’m going to die soon. What will you do on your own? Your siblings have their own lives, they won’t take you in.” Macabre, I know, but an important reality check. She always reminds me that other people can’t live their lives for me and verse versa. As a mother, she won’t do something just to make me happy, especially if it won’t make me tough.
You expect that those before you are supposed to help you do better.
When we are young, we look to adults to be the voice of reason, wisdom and guidance. I was raised to respect everyone but give extra respect to adults. Contrasting my mum’s rationale to my tv insult episode. When that lady called into the show to insult me, it was disappointing because you don’t expect that from someone who should be in a position of authority. You expect that those before you are supposed to help you do better. That could have been someone’s mother. What example did she set for her child to deal with failure or setbacks? When you get into the workplace, you look to your superiors to guide you. You rely on their experience to guide your own path and many times you will form your career after them.
We walk through life carrying a lot of expectations: on ourselves, on others, on systems and institutions. All of these fail sometimes. You will make mistakes at work, you will have a bad day, lose your balance, you are not perfect. Your boss will have a bad day, make their own mistakes or, as it happens, they will not know it all. You will compare yourself to someone else or land in miserable company that just helps you complain but not progress. Expectations are a set-up for huge disappointments. A friend of mine inspired me this week. Like many businesses, her workplace is struggling and there is a lot of uncertainty. As we sympathised with her, she shared that she has a plan and whatever happens, she just needs to stick to it and she would land on her feet. She is not holding herself captive to the false security of someone else’s hands, she is looking for opportunities and staying hopeful. Bad things are happening but she is staying brave and dealing with the disappointment of uncertainty. I’m extremely proud of her.
Be like my mother, do your best from what you know and can do, no matter how scary it is.
You will disappoint some people. Some people will disappoint you. Life will disappoint you. If there is something to apply here, it’s the growth mindset. Don’t live your life or do your work based on other people’s disappointments or shortcomings. Be like my mother, do your best from what you know and can do, no matter how scary it is, no matter what other people will tell you. Be ready for but don’t be ruled by disappointments.