By James Morgan
Wear Your Own Shoes
When I was around 17 or so, my mates and I went to Glade festival for a couple years. It was a fairly small electronic festival, with a nice variety of music, stuff going on and drugs. Lots of drugs.
After our first time, we decided we needed to be more prepared for the following year, so we wrote up a brief “shopping list”. Unfortunately, I left this list in my jeans, and as my mum still did all my washing back then, she found it.
But I didn’t get a bollocking, or have my ticket taken away. Instead my mum, being an
all-round saint (and magistrate) sat me down and talked through all the health and legal risks that came with each individual narcotic on the scrap of paper, before sending me off on my way, free to make up my own mind on what to do next. And that was it. She didn’t even ask any knowing questions when I staggered through the door the Monday after.
We spoke about this again years later, and I found out she hadn’t ever told my dad about what happened, as she knew he would have come down hard on me. Having grown up in a socialist fiesta of working class south London, he took a much sterner stance on things of that nature, whereas my mother’s comfortable Golders Green years were mixed with The Monkeys and flower power, leading to a more fluid set of right and wrong. She didn’t want him to ruin my weekend away with my friends I’d been looking forward to for so long.
But that wasn’t the only reason my mum had kept this (and as I later discovered many more events of my youth) from my dad. It was so I could make my own choice, do what I felt was right, and not just what I was told to do.
She knew her and my late father held very different opinions on what was right and wrong, and had he been involved in the situation, his opinion of right would have been enforced on me as gospel. He was stubborn like that.
She also knew (in her infinite wisdom) that neither of them were universally right, they just had opinions. What was and wasn’t “right” was so subjective, the only way for me to figure it out myself was to…well…figure it out myself. I was left to do what I wanted to do (within reason). To do what made me happy, not them.
I think you all know where I’m going with this.
Do the work that makes you smile and follow the paths that work for you. Many people in parental positions will tell us their opinions, tell us what they would have done in our shoes or how they would have done things differently, but it’s up to us to decide who and what we listen to. Be your own client, and only make work that you’d be proud to put on your grave.
Unless it’s Thursday night and a portfolio brief is due in the next day. Then just do achievable and passable and hope it’s one of your lucky days.