I Want My Daughter to Become Wonder Woman and Not a Disney Princess

Me, circa 1986 on the day my parents dropped me off at college.

Now that my daughter is away at college, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my own days back in school. At the time, I started UMASS when I was only 16 years old. I had a serious boyfriend and my ultimate dream was to pursue musical theater and become a star on Broadway. I had performed since age two in talent shows, original productions and musicals and there was just something about performing that made me light up. At the time, I thought it was my calling but when I started to face rejection, I decided I wasn’t good enough and veered off in another direction.

Another reason why I didn’t go for it or even try out for Summer Stock during those years was because I had a serious boyfriend. We had met when I was in high school and he actually fell for me because he saw me perform on stage. We met my junior year, broke up for several months when I was a senior and got back together right before I went back to college.

I spent the next four years pining for that boyfriend. Spoke to him nearly every night on the phone, costing myself hundreds of dollars a month in phone bills which I paid myself after getting a part time job. I even decided to pursue a 15 credit internship at home in New York City just so I could be with him and not away at school. That internship eventually led to my first job in PR and my career veered off in a direction I never expected or wanted to pursue.

By the time I graduated college and decided to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at NYU, that serious boyfriend decided he couldn’t move forward with the relationship and broke up with me. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I couldn’t believe I had spent four years of my life dedicating myself to him – when he became jealous of my role in a musical theater performance of “Grease,” I decided to stop auditioning for those on campus shows. I made life choices at that critical time in my life because I thought he was “The One.” But guess what, he wasn’t and honestly, I’m really lucky that we didn’t wind up together – especially since he said he never wanted his wife to work and expected her to watch his kids while he worked. The woman he did marry, who happened to be a lawyer when they met, quit her job when they had kids. So I guess he wasn’t lying when he shared his philosophy on where a woman belongs once you start having kids.

When my daughter started dating someone in her senior year who was a close friend, I was happy for her but deep down, I wanted to ensure that when she started college, they would break up and remain friends. She did agree with me and while it was hard and at times devastating to break off the relationship, she did it and is now on her own at college. While I have no idea whether she will meet someone while she’s there or find her true love after she graduates, I’m so happy that she is being given the chance to live her life on her terms without anyone second guessing her intelligence, her talents or her decisions. College is difficult enough without throwing in a relationship with someone who may not share your ultimate goals. The ideal partner in life will build you up, support you, shower you with love, laughter and will make you feel secure. I was lucky enough to find that person and together we have supported one another as we’ve pursued our ultimate goals.

While I never did go back to going after that long ago Broadway dream, I have had the chance to perform from time to time and know that at some point in my life, I’ll be doing it again. For now, I’m focused on ensuring my kids are set up for success – giving them the chance to figure out what makes them tick and what makes them happy so they can ultimately pursue what they love no matter what that might be. Don’t get me wrong – having a boyfriend or a girlfriend is great – but so does becoming the person you’re destined to be. Do I hope she gets to live happily ever after like every fairytale we’ve ever read together? Of course, but first I want her to be Wonder Woman – be fierce, take on the world and make her mark.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. Love will come when the time is right, but find yourself first and everything else will fall into place.