Last month my oldest son graduated from high school, and this month my younger son started driving. Over the past year, they’ve both grown taller than me, though they tell me I’m shrinking. To compensate, I’ve been wearing higher heels, but that’s not helping any more.
As their final farewell for my son’s time at high school, his homeroom class members all wrote each other notes. A common theme for my son was that he was his authentic self. This note sums it up: “Farmer boy. You’ve always lived up to that nickname and never pretended to be something you’re not.”
I grew up on a farm, but have lived in the city since I was 20. A few years ago, my son caught the farming bug from family members. It stuck. He wears his jeans, plaid shirts, belt with a big buckle, and cowboy boots. He even has a farmer’s walk. He was teased a bit at school, clomping down the hallway in his boots, but he took it with a smile. At 16, he applied for a job at a farm. I don’t think they took him seriously at first, he was a skinny, small for his age kid; he had to call back a couple times, but got the job. He came home tired and sore with huge blisters on his hands, but he went back each day just as eager. For three days, the farmer worked him hard and long hours, all manual, heavy tasks. Then it eased up, they taught him how to drive the Bobcat, and he started feeding the calves, along with learning the myriad other things to do on a farm. He still works hard, a lot of manual labour, puts in long hours, learns new things, and enjoys every bit of it. Not only does he look like a farmer, he usually smells like one too. His plans for next year are to continue his education in an agriculture mechanics program, along with working on the farm.
My son has had more than his share of challenges in life, but always came through them with a smile, and best of all, he’s stayed true to himself.
At my son’s graduation banquet, I spoke with other parents who were concerned about their kids finding their niche in life. For some, they know at an early age and dedicate their lives to it, for others it takes a little longer to find and may change throughout life. This has me reflecting back on my school years and my path.
A school friend of mine, at age 10, said she was going to be a doctor, and she did pursue that path in her life. For others, such as myself, we may feel as though we fumble on our path. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school, I just knew that it was something more than staying in a small town in a nowhere job. I went to university for a year, worked for a year, then returned to school and jumped into my first calling as a chemist. I enjoyed my career as a chemist, I advanced well, a good job, good salary, and I was comfortable. Why change? But the universe can throw in some detours when it is time to change.
I often envied those who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life and stayed steady on that path, but I’ve learned that we each have our own path. Each of our paths are different, and some of us have many more twists and turns on our path. When my boys are arguing and comparing each other, I often say, it’s our differences that makes life interesting, just think of how boring it would be if we were all the same.
One of my lessons throughout my life changes has been to be my authentic self. In my high school years, and much of my life, I have not been my authentic self. I was happy to blend in, trying to fit in, going along with what everyone else did, basically being invisible. I was quiet, usually afraid to speak up, to say what I really wanted, and to do what I really wanted. Not being my authentic self often meant that I just let life happen to me, or worse, my decisions were made by others.
My kids have been two of my greatest teachers in life, they have pushed me to strive to be a better and stronger person. They’ve helped me reflect on my life, where I’ve been, and where I want to be. Working towards my authentic self has affected those around me, some are uncomfortable that I’m changing too much, that I’m a different person, but it’s just the real me emerging.
Wherever your path takes you, embrace it, enjoy the journey, all those twists and turns make us who we truly are, our unique selves.
I’d love to hear from you. What’s going on in your life?