What do you want for your children?

Have you already planned out your child’s future?

Last night I went to watch Dirty Dancing at the Theatre. The film/play was set in the summer of 1963. For those of you unaware of the storyline, the main character, Baby, is on holiday with her family and she falls in love with a dancer called Johnny.

Her Father would rather she dated/married a college boy and tries to set her up with one during the holiday, but baby only has eyes for Johnny and if her parents knew this they would be deeply disappointed.

This reminded me a lot of my childhood and the way my parents thought and still think.

Growing up, my love was for sport and I swam 5 days a week competitively. Unfortunately I was injured before my GCSEs and I had to have quite a lot of time off school to have surgery. As a result I was put in lower sets for a lot of my subjects and didn’t do very well the first time around in my exams. This horrified my parents, because I was compared to a friend who lived a few doors away who went to a private school and she did extremely well. I was never a straight A student anyway.

However, I knuckled down and got my grades and A Levels and went off to University to study Law and Psychology. I would rather have studied Sport Science or become a PE Teacher, but I wouldn’t have been supported to do this.

I spent 20 years as a Lawyer, and I was good at what I did. However, what really made me happiest was my other job, working as a Spin Instructor. This is what I was really good at. From this I learned about nutrition, mental health and when things started to go wrong for me in 2013 when I had a breakdown I practiced mindfulness and had a deeper, personal understanding of mental health.

It was when I had a life-changing accident in 2017 that my legal career came to a head. I realised that for 20 years I had been doing a career that wasn’t really my choice. In all honesty I had studied law to get my dad to notice me.

When I swam for all those years, not once did he come and watch me, or ask me how i’d got on, despite being pretty good if I do say so myself. I won many competitions and at a young age was desperate for praise and attention. My dad was a Lawyer himself, so I thought if I at least did the same career as him he would be proud of me.

In my 20 year legal career my dad would sometimes ask me for my opinion on something, and this was quite nice, because this would be the only time he could engage with me.

When I told my parents that I was changing my career to work in mental health and wellbeing, my dad told me ‘I was just like one of those cretins off The Apprentice’. My mum was just concerned, but she always worries that i’m going to be financially stable, although in the past I think it used to be about status to her too, because she would love to introduce me as ‘this is my daughter, the Lawyer’. She doesn’t do this anymore, and she now sees that I am more positive than I have ever been and I think she realises that this is more important.

I just hope that before it’s too late I am able to make my dad proud. For me, being successful isn’t about making a huge amount of money, it’s about being truly happy and content. I knew the first year setting up my business would be tough, which is why I had savings to invest. I am so passionate about helping other people, that I know I will be successful at what I do now. When I have a bad day, I smile and remind myself that I can do this and keep pushing forward. I have already helped so many people and that makes me feel so warm, and for the first time in my working life I feel like i’m doing a great job, not just a good job.

For my own daughter, I don’t put pressure on her. I tell her i’m proud of her everyday. She has had a very tough school year, because she has been unwell and she has missed more school than she has attended through no fault of her own. She has just done her SATs tests and despite having most of the year off school, she put in so much effort and got the lead part in her school play and played it so well. I really couldn’t be more proud of her. Whatever she goes on to do I know she will give it 100% and she will be a success.

Just remember, we get one life and sometimes we don’t realise how precious that life is. I realised that just over 2 years ago and I don’t take mine for granted anymore. Don’t spend it being unsatisfied. If you want to change anything you’re unsatisfied with, change it and keep telling yourself I CAN.

Always tell your children that you’re proud of them