My Dad, may he rest in peace, never quite understood me. Most of the qualities I possess that he would get mad at me for (my immense love for animals, my hoarding and mess making tendencies, and my overspending on hobby supplies) all came directly from him although he would never admit it. The thing he struggled with the most about me though was the fact that I was always very independent never strived towards getting married and starting a family. I came along 14 years after the rest of my siblings and ended up being very different from them. Both of my sisters got married right out of high school and had kids at a young age, which is exactly what he wanted for them. I, on the other hand, wanted to go to college. I know my parents were proud of me for going, but I found out from one of my sisters that my mom once said that they sent me to college so that I would meet a pre-med student that would marry me and take care of me for the rest of my life. Well, you can guess how I felt about that!
Imagine how shocked they must have been when I decided to leave everything I ever knew and loved in NJ and move to AZ after graduating without having a job or knowing a single soul there. I made the decision at a young age that I didn't want to stay in NJ for the rest of my life. I grew up listening to everyone complain about how much they hated it, yet no one ever left. I wasn't going to be like that. I saved up some money and went on an adventure. I didn't own much at the time, and I figured if it didn't work out I could always go back home. Luckily, it worked out pretty well!
I remember the first time my Dad told me that he was proud of me was when I left for AZ. He admired me for doing what I wanted to do. That made me feel great! We were never a very lovey dovey kind of family so for him to say something like this was very profound.
It wasn't too long after that when my sister told me that my Dad said I was weird for moving away and not being married at the old age of...I think it was 30 or so at the time. So much for being proud! Since I can never just let things go, I asked him about it. He claimed that he didn't say I was weird, but that I walked to the beat of my own drum. Regardless of what he said or what he meant by it, I have always been proud of myself for having my own 'drum'. So far it has served me well, and the more I let go of the notion that I'm supposed to do what other people expect me to do, the better it gets.
I was reminded of all of these things the other day when I received a very negative comment from an 'anonymous' poster about my artwork on a blog that I contribute to. I wasn't upset about the fact that this person didn't like my art. I know my art isn't for everyone, and let's face it...whose is? I was saddened that this person felt the need to be unnecissarily rude and hurtful on purpose to me or anyone else, though. Anyhoo, the comment got me thinking about how the kind of art I make makes me happy. That's the primary reason why I do it. If someone else ends up liking it, then it's a bonus. If they don't, then that's okay too. I'll continue to walk to the beat of my own drum either way and be proud of it!