"If you never go after what you want, you will never have it. Live without regrets. If you want it, fight for it."
Once I discovered what a quote was and actually became... educated, I found this quote that stood out from the rest. Now let me tell you why.
A single glance at my family history will tell you that everyone - and I mean everyone - was a dentist. And they were successful ones at that. The Kidman's Dental Office was passed on from generation to generation. When there was more than one person who wanted to be the next boss, whoever got the highest marks would win the office.
For the longest time, I wanted to be a dentist too. Like my grandparents, cousins, father, mother, and my older brother, Jake. It was the profession that my parents wanted me to practice.
Once I understood the world a little better, I realized that I didn't want to be a dentist. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life doing something that I wasn't passionate about. They say that when you love what you do, it's like you're not even working. For me, I didn't love dentistry.
In my family, I was the odd one out. The intruder. The exception. That kid. And let me tell you: It sucked.
At all the family dinners, they would compliment everybody but me. I could tell they thought I was... a loser. It was hard, but I powered through. When I was in grade 11, we were having Christmas dinner at my grandmother's house. Her wooden floor complimenting the wooden dinner table in the middle of the dining room. Her cream colored walls filled with pictures of our family's most successful dentists.
"Little Annie is going to be the next successful dentist, yeah? It's crazy. Feels like just yesterday when your pops was born. He had such a small head I don't know how he fit all that information in there."
Everyone at the table laughed while I gathered my thoughts and courage to say what I needed to say.
My grandmother cut me off.
"Annie. Can I just tell you how proud I am. Your father raised you well."
My mother moved uncomfortably in her seat.
"Tut tut. You were born with the dentistry genes. How proud your grandfather would be if he knew that you weren't going to rui-?"
"THAT'S IT!" I yelled as I stood up in my chair. I could feel everybody's eyes glaring at me.
My Mother tugged at my sleeve but I looked at her, and we understood each other. We both got denied. It was my turn to talk. Not just for me, but everyone who comes into this family after. For those who couldn't for themselves.
"Ahem. Um... Listen Grandma. I love you and I mean no disrespect, but you are being too controlling. You've set such high standards for us and nobody liked it. You force us into dentistry. What if somebody doesn't want to practice that profession? And when they try to tell you, you cut them off. I-"
She laughed her fragile laugh.
"Me?" She asked in disbelief. "Do you all feel that way?"
"No-no Grandma," My brother said. "I actually like it."
I glared at him.
"Don't worry little Annie you're just scared you won't live up to your grandfather. Let me tell you, nobody has."
If she was trying to reassure me and tell me that everything was going to be alright, she was doing a terrible job.
I could feel the tension and shock at the table.
"Look grandma, all I'm saying is that I want to pursue something else. Like writing. I love writing. I want to be an author some day. All I'm saying is that I don't think dentistry is right job for me-"
"Not the right job? Sweetie, it's the only job. For generations, your ancestors have been dentists. You are not going to be the one to break the tradition. By doing so, you are removing yourself form the Kidman family."
I stared at her, speechless. My eyes began to tear up and before the tear could roll down my cheek, I ran outside and sat at the bus stop. I put my head in my hands and stayed like that until the bus came. How long I sat there I wasn't sure, but I wasn't going to spend my Christmas with a family who didn't want me for who I am. I decided I would spend Christmas with my best friend Daniella.
As I got up and headed into the bus, I heard a voice from behind me.
"ANNIE WAIT!" My Mother attempted to run but hobbled towards me instead, which probably wasn't a good idea since she was 6 months pregnant.
"Sorry for being such a disappointme-"
She cut me off with a hug and my eyes teared up once more.
"Don't you ever say that. You are the farthest thing from a disappointment. I am so, so proud of you. You stood up for yourself in the way I never could. Believe me I know all about the pressure she puts on people. I was one of the victims. I loved your Father with all my heart, but she didn't let me marry him unless I was a dentist."
"But your not a dentist. You're an interior designer."
"She doesn't know that. I was willing to become a dentist for your father but he begged me to do what I've always dreamed of doing: Interior designing. The point is, I chickened out when I was supposed to tell her about not wanting to become a dentist. My biggest fear when I became pregnant was that you wouldn't be able to stand up for yourself and pursue your dreams. But you did. And I couldn't be more proud of you. If you never go after what you want, you will never have it. Live without regrets. If you want it, fight for it."
"Thank you, Mother. But what about Grandma?"
"I talked to her. We all did actually. Turns out you inspired everyone at that table. Now your cousin Maddie is going to pursue her dream of becoming an architect."
My mother led me back inside and where the portraits of the most successful in the Kidman family used to be, was a family photo of everyone together.
"Do you like it?"
I turned to find my Grandma standing there. Her eyes were puffy and red from crying.
"I'm so sorry my dear. My parents did the same thing to me and they made me promise to do the same to my kids. I got so caught up in it and you made me realize that I shouldn't have done that. I respected my parents a great deal but what I wished for every Christmas and upon every shooting star, was for them to care for my happiness. To let me choose what I want to do. That was so long ago I almost forgot. Your happiness is more important than some silly promise that robs you of it. You are unique. Out of all of us, you were the only one who was able to stand up for yourself. I can't tell you how much I respect that. Well done, Annie. I'm proud of you. You wanted to be an author, right?
I nodded my head.
"Then what are you waiting for? Go out and be the best one there is! And make sure I'm in it, yeah?"