Monday, May 3, 2010
Creativity,Passion, and Success
When I describe my family to newcomers, the first response is usually, "Wow, such an arty family". The reason for this response is that my ex-husband was a composer, my son is an actor, my daughter is a designer and fashion blogger, and I have worked in "creative" fields for all my career, from design to marketing. I am then usually asked two questions: how did this happen, and is anyone making any money?
The way it happened is pretty simple. I was, and am, a firm believer in allowing kids to pursue, explore, and find their passion, then go full blast pursuing it. Too many kids have no passion, or no chance to explore and find out what really turns them on. As far as I have been concerned, when my kids found something which they wanted to do, which stretched them and exposed them to a world they could make their own, I was all for it. To watch these young adults (now 25 and 21 respectively) out there trying, struggling, and adjusting gives me a great deal of pleasure - along with a hefty dose of anxiety!
I have recently gotten to know a man who has a daughter who is a budding film-maker, and when he describes her and her pursuit of her practice, the twinkle in his eye and smile in his voice is evident. Just this weekend I spent time with another new friend whose son is about to enter college to pursue his dream as an actor, and the sparkle she evidenced when talking about him indicated she couldn't be more pleased with his choice, though she's worried about his income. What we all have in common as parents is that combination of pride and abject terror. We all happen to have had success in our own careers, and wonder if our kids stand a chance to experience their own successes.
Watching my smart, talented son work at an Italian deli by day, and audition his heart out by night and weekend is not necessarily the future I might have predicted nor hoped for for him. Some may think that the "investment" in his great education has been squandered. Certainly he has chosen a path that yields far more heartbreak than reward, at least monetarily. (At his first college interview he was told that the unemployment rate for Equity actors was over 96%! Gulp.) But he is working away at it, trying to make a go at what he loves. He grew up watching me pursue my career and passions, watched me succeed, fail, and pick up again.
I heard some of this same concern and anxiety when I spoke to RISD students next week, students who were about to graduate and then....what? Choosing the creative path has never been an easy choice; there's not a set path like internship and residency in medicine, and the measures of success are not so clear. But I am confident that those kids who get to follow what turns them on, whether it is acting or medicine, programming or woodworking will figure it out. I did!