For the past several years, my now 16 year old daughter has wanted to be a lawyer. When she was little she’d put on heels and practice walking into the courtroom to ‘fight the bad guys.’ As she got older, she participated in clubs and took tough classes that would help her speak and debate confidently in front of others. She chose Latin as her language in high school, because she thought it could only help in the competitive college application process. And then one semester she took a photography class, and it was a game changer. She fell in love with taking and developing pictures, and announced to us that she was no longer working towards Northwestern and becoming a lawyer; she was going to go to art school and be a photographer.
Now, she’s only 16, so of course she may still change her mind. As she talked about this I said all the right supportive things – of course you can be whatever you want, we just want you to be happy. But in the back of my mind I was disappointed. If I’m being honest here, I thought to myself that she’d be wasting her potential as a photographer. She’s a smart girl, and a kind girl – she could move mountains and affect real change as a lawyer. She continued with photography classes, and when it came time to register for classes for the next year, she changed her course path. She dropped Latin (a difficult class she didn’t enjoy),and gave herself a little break on course load and commitments so she could spend more of her free time taking and editing pictures. We (collectively) put a lot of pressure on our kids, and this change in course resulted in serious conversations. What if she ends up regretting dropping Latin? Could she get in the school of her choice with only two years of a language? Should she stay on her rigorous math and science course? I want her to be prepared for any college and career choice. So we researched college requirements at several schools and for various majors (for my benefit – she “knows” what she wants) and came to a conclusion we could both live with (two years of a language in combination with her other college “requirements” – grades, extracurricular activities, etc. – would suffice).
So all this time, any thoughts and conversations about her being a photographer were based on the practical side of things. Then one day I looked at some pictures of her friends that she had taken. And they were amazing. These are friends that she’s known for several years, and wow did she capture their essence and personalities. For the first time I let myself see that my daughter had found her passion and that her voice was coming through in all of these pictures.
I realize now that it doesn’t matter what E becomes when she grows up. What’s important is that she is confident and strong, and believes in what she is doing. I see that in her as she plans for her future (she isn’t flippant in the decisions she makes). As of now I am not worried about the woman she’ll become. Whether a lawyer or photographer, she’ll stand tall. She won’t give in to pressures to have sex, or let negative stereotyping against women bring her down. For I have a strong warrior princess, who knows how to find her passion, is determined to follow it, and is confident enough to share it with the world. It’s my job to continue fostering this in her. I am currently helping her optimize her Instagram. This is allowing me to share my own knowledge and passion (digital marketing), give her more tools, and most importantly, spend time with her. She’s just starting out on her journey of womanhood, and I suspect she’ll uncover several passions. I look forward to supporting her in any way I can to keep that strong woman going.