Most parents teach their children. I learn from mine.
All of Collin’s jobs except for the current one have been in the restaurant business. He’s been a dishwasher, a busser, a server, and briefly, a crew chief. I always told him he could do better. I encouraged him–no, make that pushed him–to realize his potential. He’s very bright, but not always the best at communicating. He was, in his youth, painfully shy. Working in the three restaurants–a cafeteria and two IHOPs–has helped him to overcome that, for the most part. No, working conditions have not always been perfect, but what job is, really?
He went to college for a time, but discovered that (like his mother) he has no fondness for the classroom environment. He listened to his mother (for once!) and got out of restaurant work. It didn’t take him long to realize that in spite of being good at his new job and being able to walk to work as opposed to the ninety-minute commute to IHOP, he really missed being a server. He missed most of his co-workers and missed interacting with customers.
He wanted to go back, but kept it to himself at first.
When he finally told me, we talked about it. I told him there’s no such thing as a “dummy” job, that every job is important. Where would we be, after all, if everyone were doctors or lawyers or–God forbid–politicians? I told him if this is what he really wants to do, he should do it. Real success comes from making a living doing what you love…whatever that happens to be. It made me think of a line from one of my favorite movies, Bruce Almighty, when God (played by Morgan Freeman) tells Bruce (Jim Carrey) that some of the happiest people in the world come home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.
And it made me realize that I haven’t always practiced what I preach. Sure, I found the creative freedom I craved in self-publishing. I love not having deadlines. I love being able to write whatever I want. I love not having to be someone I’m not. I no longer care who gets the biggest advances or the best promotions. With age comes wisdom…sometimes. And then there are other times….
The old competitive me still rears her ugly head occasionally–when I encounter the Dark Side of self-publishing, the author so determined to be number one that he or she feels a need to trash other authors to get there. I’m quick to drag out the bestseller lists and the six-figure advances and the ads in major publications when I’m faced with an idiot on an ego trip. I turn into someone I’ve never liked very much.
Old (bad) habits die hard….
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