Why I Don’t Want My Daughters To Be Like Me

There’s no feeling like the adoration of my daughters.

To see them get excited about things like dressing like me or wearing their hair similar to mine. My oldest shares my love of writing. And my youngest, my love of art.

It’s important to me to set a good example for my daughters and to be someone they can look up to. But the thing is, I don’t want my daughters to be like me.

I want my daughters to be bold.

I grew up a pretty shy kid – something I now suspect was due in large part to my then-undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Throughout much of my life I was afraid to speak up. Afraid to pursue things that interested me. I felt like I was watching the world from inside a box I built around myself.

But my oldest daughter is already so different than me. She’s outspoken, outgoing and confident. And she makes friends easily.

Traits that sometimes result in calls home from her teacher. But traits that I admire and don’t want her to lose. Even if it means she occasionally needs a little more direction.

I want my daughters to be themselves.

I’m nearing 30 and I feel like I’ve only become true to myself within the past 5 years or so. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to be like those around me or those I wished to be around. And I feel like I owe myself an apology for the disservice.

I don’t want my daughters to be chameleons – changing themselves to match their surroundings. I want them to base their surroundings on who they decide they want to be and to carefully choose who they have around. I don’t want them to seek validation from the opinions of people who don’t matter.

I want my daughters to pursue their dreams.

I’m just settling into what I’ve always wanted to do. I know it’s better late than never but I don’t want that to be their philosophy. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I wrote and illustrated my first “book,” Queen of Africa, when I was about 7. I still have it.

But as I went through school, I began to question whether being a writer was really a smart career choice. So when I first attended college after high school, I pursued nursing because of job security. Then I dropped out. Then I went back to school to get a business degree because I thought it would give me flexibility. Then I dropped out again.

Pursuit without passion is pointless.

While I’m all for plan b’s, or even plan c’s, I’m also a firm believer that you can be anything you want to be if you’re willing to put in the work. I don’t want my daughters to base their dreams on logistics like job security or what they could do with some generic degree.

And I want my daughters to stay focused

The world is distracting. Everyday we’re bombarded with people’s opinions and messages of what’s good, what’s bad, what’s popular, what’s lame or what we should or shouldn’t do. There’s a reason I’m a two-time college dropout turned 29-year-old college junior. I lacked focus – big time. I let people and messages that didn’t matter influence the decisions I made for myself instead of what I thought was best. And all the errors I’ve made have made things substantially harder than I wish they were.

I know my daughters will have to grow up and make their own mistakes and decisions, but I can offer lots of guidance and advice, whether they heed it or not. I’m proud of the odds I’ve beat and how far I’ve come. But I don’t want my daughters to follow my lead.

I don’t want my daughters to be like me. I want them to be better.

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