I remember being about 4 or 5 and sitting on my dad’s lap. It was one of those tender moments from my childhood. On one of those occasions he asked me a question I’ll never forget: “Don’t you want to be Cinderella when you grow up?”
Huh? . . . The little kid in me was flummoxed. I almost asked him, “Daddy, don’t you know Cinderella isn’t real?” Instead I just nodded and said, “Yes,” but I did not want to be Cinderella or any kind of princess. It wasn’t a big deal. Dad meant well, so I chuckle about it today.
I’ve grown accustomed to people asking me loaded questions. Unfortunately, most of these questions I’ve internalized: Don’t you want to own a house? Don’t you want to be promoted to manager? Don’t you want to be a mom? Shouldn’t you just stay at your government job so you can keep your heath insurance and not feel like a failure?!!
There are things others might want for me, even if they mean well. But living up to others’ expectations is like being a princess. A princess can’t marry whomever she wants. She probably can’t vote. She has to look perfect when she goes out in public. Living a life based on others’ expectations is nothing for a girl or full-grown woman to dream about.
If I live my life on my own terms, I’ll disappoint some people. That’s okay. I am childless by choice. I want to live in an RV. I plan to trade my prestigious job for simpler gigs. I don’t want to publish in any more academic journals. I go on camping trips so I don’t have to do my hair or make-up for a whole week. I like to introduce myself without the “Dr.” in front my name.
Sorry Dad; I still don’t want to be a princess. But I know you still love me.