Hello, readers! The talented Allison Vesterfelt and I are guest-post swapping for the day. If you haven’t previously visited Allison’s blog, you’re in for a treat. To learn more about her and read the post I wrote titled: Why Me God, visit her website at allisonvesterfelt.com!
When I tell people how I quit my job to go on a 50-state road trip to chase my dreams of being a writer, one of the first questions they ask me is, “What did your parents say?“ I tell them, by that point, my parents weren’t the least bit shocked.
Rewind a few years, and I can’t say the same thing.
While I was in college my parents did what so many financially fit parents do for their private school children. They paid for my school, paid for my living expenses and encouraged me to focus on my education. I was grateful for the gift, and did in fact focus on my studies, but as sophomore year began to wrap up, I wanted a break.
Not a high school spring break kind of break. A grown-up adventure kind of break.
I had an idea.
I was going to book a trip with my roommate to Puerto Rico.
It was the perfect recipe for an adventure, we figured. The flights were cheap. We had at least one friend in the capital city. And we had three months of summer vacation ahead. We didn’t have a very solid plan for what we were going to do when we got there, but it couldn’t be that hard to find your way around, right?
When I called my parents to tell them the plan (surprise, surprise) they weren’t as thrilled as I was.
They had all kinds of questions about my trip. Where were we going to stay? Did we know it was safe? How were we paying for our plane tickets? My carefully thought-out answers — that we had a friend who lived in San Juan who had showed us where to get a cheap hotel, and that the money I had been saving from my part time job at a restaurant would more than cover the expense — didn’t seem to appease them.
“We don’t want you to go.” They told me.
I hung up the phone and hung my head because I knew I couldn’t go on a trip if my parents said no. Sure, I was nineteen years old, but they were also paying my rent. I needed that money. What they were saying made sense: How could I fly to Puerto Rico, spend every last dollar I had playing and having fun, and then expect to come back and the end of the summer and have them pay my bills?
So I called them back. I told them I had a new plan. I was going to Puerto Rico. But based on my decision, I couldn’t ask them to pay my rent any longer, or my car payment, or my cell phone bill. The words hurt a little as they were coming out of my mouth and the math equation unfolded in my head. I was going to have to pick up extra shifts, to stay up later, or get up a little earlier, to study.
At the end of the conversation I asked them, nicely, if they would still be willing to pay for school.
You know what? They said yes.
My parents are awesome like that.
I grew up about five years that day. I went to Puerto Rico for two weeks and came back for the rest of the summer, where I worked as many shifts as I could get at the restaurant. I started keeping track of my own checking account, and (literally) being accountable for my own decisions.
Doing something my parents didn’t want me to do was scary. It meant that, if my plan failed, I would have to take responsibility. It meant admitting I was different than them; that I had dreams, desires and ideas that were all my own. But it also made me realize that if I spent my whole life basing my decisions on the opinions of others, even my parents, I would never grow into the unique, mature, lovely adult God made me to be.
I believe in listening to the wisdom of those older than us.
I believe our parents possess knowledge we don’t.
But I also believe our lives are our own, and that at the end of them, we answer to God, not our parents.
What do you think? Have you made a decision your parents didn’t approve of?
Allison is a writer, managing editor of Prodigal Magazine and author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage (Moody, 2013). She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband Darrell. You can follow her daily on Twitter or Facebook.