I have spent the majority of my life asking for permission. Asking for the approval to do the things that I want. To make sure that it’s okay with those who had authority, or at least the perception of authority. Now that I’m an adult and I am the the authority I don’t need that permission. But, I’m still in the habit of asking for it.
I remember the transition of not having to tell my parents that I was going to the bathroom. But, it wasn’t until college that I did have to get permission to leave class to use the bathroom. Thinking about that now it seems crazy.
In school when I was working on a project that I was keenly interested in the project had to line up within the boundaries of the assignment, otherwise I wouldn’t get a good grade. Therefore not getting approval for the work that I put into it.
I get the idea of having certain criteria for assignment. It helped me learn how to write properly, or run a scientific experiment so the results would be valuable. But at some point that criteria becomes debilitating and stifles creativity and true curiosity.
As a teacher I loved the idea of rubrics. The expectation was clearly outlined and the students knew exactly what to do. They made the assignment easy to grade, and easy to explain to parents why their student didn’t get a good grade. The problem was I got crap work. My students didn’t push themselves. They did the minimum required work to get the grade they wanted.
I scrapped rubrics.
When there wasn’t a clear right or wrong then my students just worked until it felt right, or when I was able to view their work and provide some feedback. That gave them a benchmark for their work and the ability to see through to a better result.
As a parent I provide approval and permission to my kids in order to provide some protection. It’s a way for me to help them monitor their judgment, or lack of judgment.
Like when my daughter thinks it’s a great idea to practice her swim strokes in the bath. She sees it as practice, which I want to foster. What she doesn’t see is the amount of water that ends up on the floor that makes it slippery for when she gets out, or when that water seeps into the baseboards and causes them to mold.
She just hasn’t developed the thinking patterns yet to make the best judgment in situations like that. I want her to ask. Not because she needs my permission to do things but because I want her to fully think through the situation and the consequences that could result from her actions. It’s a process of education.
Instead what happens (I’m assuming) is that my parenting comes across as black and white.
“You can do this. You can’t do that.”
The results of that can be detrimental. Instead of becoming a healthy independent adult who takes responsibility for her actions, she’ll need my permission and approval to do everything.
That’s my dilemma with parenting. It’s probably a dilemma for me because that need for approval runs deep in me. I have only begun to recognize and get over my need for others permission.
The choices I make I make for a reason. I don’t typically fly by the seat of my pants, but even if I do I had to make a split second decision. I don’t need to justify my decisions, I just need to deal with and embrace the consequences of those decisions.
For whatever reason I get hung up on that transition. I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t want to deal with the consequences of my own actions. Somehow I think if I get permission then it’s not my fault. I was just listening to the advice of someone else.
This hang up came to surface for me after having a conversation with a student I work with. He signed up for my Right here. Right now. project and was talking to me about my interests.
I could be reading into the conversation but it felt like he was asking me about how I got permission to do things. How did I know it was okay to take action? Who said it was okay for me to do something just because I was interested?
Whether he was asking me that or not it made me reflect on my decisions. Here’s the thing, no one gave Albert Einstein permission to come up with the theory of relativity he just did it. No one chose Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the civil rights movement he just did it. I could go down a list of people who did really cool things that are admirable and made their life worth living.
The only thing that asking permission does is prevents me taking the necessary action to get things done. The only permission I need is my own. Is it something I want to do? Than it’s worth doing.
I mentioned before that I have a fear about making a mistake. I blame school with that one too. The catch 22 with that fear is that it’s through mistakes that I learn. From that mistake I correct course and make a better decision.
Not everything I think is a good idea is going to work, or is going to hold my attention. I have started a lot of projects and not finished. For many of them the reason they’re not finished is because of the permission I wanted or needed to finish.
Either way I will continue to practice only needing my own permission while taking advice from others when I want it.