One day in my early teen years my dad said to me, ‘Margaret Mary, I see great things for you'.
‘Do you, Dad?' I asked, my eyes wide and brimming with anticipation as images of celebrities and trailblazers flashed through my mind. Whitney Houston. Margaret Thatcher. Princess Diana! It wouldn't have taken much to say something that sounded exciting to a farm girl whose horizons extended little further than the back paddock or local football grounds.
‘I see you being Sister Margaret Mary,' he said, ‘in charge of a convent'.
My shoulders slumped and my face dropped. I felt like a balloon that had collided with the pointy end of my grandma's knitting needle. I let out an indignant sigh and gave Dad the biggest eye-roll I could muster before storming off. I suspect he knew it was a long shot but couldn't resist the temptation to offer it up.
While I never felt seriously pressured to become a nun, I've met hundreds of people who have pursued careers based on what they felt they ‘should' do, not on what they wanted to do. Some have wanted to be teachers, but were steered down the path of law. Others wanted to be nurses, but were steered towards business. Some wanted to do business, but were pressured to study medicine, like three generations had before them.
Some people have had the fortitude to go their own way from the outset and deal with the familial fallout. Others ...