I grew up in a wonderful family, but I also grew up quite conflicted because my ambition did not match the ambition (or lack thereof) that my parents had for me. My childhood was relatively un remarkable, apart from an incident where I was sexually assaulted by a family friend, I didn’t grow up with abuse or from a broken home.
My parents did everything they could to provide for us physically and emotionally, they allowed us to attend sports, they sent us to good private schools and they were present. However, despite giving us these opportunities, their vision for our future success was very limited to what they had achieved. Ever since I was young, I was extremely ambitious, but my parents didn’t really see that as a girl that I could or should achieve things. Their goal for me was to finish school and get a good job, preferably a government job.
I graduated high school and wanted to become a hairdresser, so I actively pursued getting myself a hairdressing apprenticeship. But I was not supported by my family at all, in fact they should have been extremely proud that I had taken the initiative to get interview’s, go for trials and actually be offered a job. Instead, my family only wanted to see me get a good stable government job.
I ended up deciding hairdressing wasn’t for me, and ended up getting a traineeship, again this was all on my own with no help from my family. Even in the traineeship you cold see I was ambitious, the program went for 12 months, but within 7 months I had already completed the traineeship and found myself a more secure higher paying job. It was this job that changed the trajectory of my life and my career.
The job was as an administration officer in the legal department of a government agency. I started on the same day that a new lawyer started and our orientations could not have been more different. She was presented with a desk and a brand new chair, a full desk of stationery and introductions to all the important people around the organisation.
I was given a desk with an old chair, told where the stationery was and introduced to the admin staff. I realised then and there that if I ever wanted to be the person that was ‘given the new chair’ when I started a job, then I needed to get myself an education.
Because my high school grades weren’t enough to get myself into uni, I started researching how to apply as a mature age student. I surrendered my evenings and weekends to get myself to prepared to apply to the uni to study a Bachelor of Business, I attended workshops, I attended information sessions and I sat tests.
The university admissions program and acceptance was managed by a central agency, and they released all offers at Midnight, I was required to call a central phone number, enter my admission number and I would be told over the phone whether I was accepted or not. That entire day I was a nervous wreck, I was a ball of anxiety and desperate to find out whether my hard work had paid off.
18 months after graduating high school, I was accepted into a Business Degree at Queensland’s top university. I had never been so proud of myself in my life, I had barely scrapped through high school and here I was, accepted into the university of my choice after working my butt off to get in.
When I heard those magic words, I ran into my parents room and woke them both up to tell them the exciting news, I was elated, beaming and beyond excited. Their reaction popped my balloon, they couldn’t understand why I wanted to apply, they thought it was a waste of time and money because I already had a stable job. They didn’t think that I would complete it because in their words, I had never finished anything in my life before and they made their opinions abundantly clear.
My moment was complicated by the fact that my brother had also applied for university at the mid-year intake, he had applied to study Human Movement, he hadn’t done any of the work I had done, and unfortunately he was rejected. My parents told me to tone down my job because so as to not upset my brother.
I was gutted but I was also motivated more than ever to make sure I completed my degree because I wanted to prove them wrong. Their feedback also surprised me because I was only 19, I had never had an opportunity to not finish anything in my life, in fact my life was the opposite. I had worked hard to get a hairdressing apprenticeship, I had worked hard to get a government job and I had fast-tracked m traineeship because I was ambitious, I was also only 19.
When I look back at my parents reaction, their reactions were driven from their fear of me failing, not their ambition for me succeeding. I know that deep down they love me and they have only wanted the best for me, but they did not understand the best for me, wasn’t following in their footsteps.
I often don’t think my parents understood me, they could never see that I had drive and ambition beyond what their expectation for me was. Since becoming a mother myself, I do understand that as a parent, you can only do the best you can do, but sometimes our own prejudices can become road blocks for our children.
Whilst I was a binge drinker at this stage in my life, I certainly wasn’t an alcoholic, but these experiences have certainly compounded over the years and have driven me towards my alcoholism. My entire adult life I was discouraged by my parents in making many decisions and taking many of the calculated risks that I wanted to take and I regret that I never pushed through harder. This regret has had a deep lasting impact on me that has certainly contributed to my alcoholism.
I know that my parents are not to blame for my alcoholism, and I know that I still can change my future. I thank my higher power every single day that I have learnt these lessons now and that I am following my dreams now as opposed to waiting another 10, 20 or 30 years. Because the longer I wait, the less time I have left to achieve the goals I have for myself.
Disclaimer – I don’t blame my parents for my alcoholism, I don’t blame my parents for not supporting me, I don’t blame my parents for the conflict and confusion I felt between their goals for me and my ambition. However, as an alcoholic going through a journey of recovery, I need to delve into these experiences from my past in order to learn from them, acknowledge them and change my future.