I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my birthday. I’ve been thinking about this because of what two amazing people on my Facebook feed have done for theirs. They made the simple request of their friends, to think of others and spread positivity. I did as they asked and it made my life a little bit happier and a little bit nicer to have such an example set for me.
Then I listened to this clip of a person asking Neil Gaiman how she should respond when someone tells her, “There are enough directors/artists/writers in the world and you shouldn’t pursue your dream of becoming such.”
Listen to the clip and hear his response.
My birthday is on December 6th. So knowing that I don’t believe in coincidences, that this particular clip was posted on December 6th of 2012, it gives me the perfect framework for making my birthday wish to all of you who read this.
If there’s someone in your life who wants to pursue something, whether or not you agree with them, don’t discourage them. Because it costs you nothing to encourage them but it might cost you everything to discourage them with remarks like, “What’s so special about what you would do and how you would do it?”
Think of all of the wonderful things we have in this world, because someone wanted to be an inventor, or a scientist, or an author, or a painter. Think of how many more of those people out there gave up on what they wanted to become, because people who were supposed to guide and teach them, suppressed and looked down upon them.
This is especially important of young people, who can’t draw on the vast amount of experience that older generations have had. When you tell someone, “No, you shouldn’t focus on your art because you’re going to have bills to pay,” you may be saying it with the intention of teaching them to prioritize. It’s true that artists do need to eat. But a child of twelve is going to believe that it’s all there is to life and in telling her that her art is not as important as finding a job that you approve of, you are telling her that her happiness will never be important.
I know from experience that the conversations that can ensue when someone shares their dreams and ambitions with you, is far more enlightening than the dead silence and the downcast frown that follows when you shut them down.
So it’s really simple. You don’t have to gush, or push them in any one direction. If someone says, “I want to be a director,” the first response out of your mouth should be something along the lines of, “That’s awesome. What kind of director?”