To Plan B Or Not To Plan B

[I apologize in advance, it seems this is my most meandering/ stream of consciousness post yet.  Get ready.]

This week, on NPR's "Fresh Air," I heard an interview with Aaron Paul, winner of an Emmy this week for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.  Although I never watched the show, I know many people love it madly.  Despite my overall lack of knowledge of the series, I've managed to piece together the premise and characters from conversations, Facebook updates, and news (as well as "news") pieces.

If you're interested, you can listen to the whole interview here (it's about 20 minutes long).

In the interview, Terry Gross asks Paul, "When you left home, at age 17, which as you point out is really young, did your parents try to bar the door...?" essentially, asking, did your parents try to prevent you from leaving home and going to California?

He responded by saying, "You know what, not at all.  It was quite the opposite."  His parents had been entirely supportive and encouraging, both of his decision to finish school and graduate a year early and also to move from Idaho to California at 17 (to live alone).

He goes on to say, however, that despite his supportive friends and family, he remembers a teacher, as he was saying his goodbyes, innocently asked, "Do you have a plan B?"

When she heard this, Paul said his mother marched directly up to the school and shamed the teacher for the comment, asking, "What is your plan B, if this doesn't work out?"--something totally out of character for his mom to do.  Though I would not particularly advise this interaction--teachers already get enough flak from students, they don't need to be bullied by parents, especially when they're genuinely trying to be helpful--it's a reasonable question. 

Initially, when I heard this, I thought a few things all at once:

1. I got defensive.  For the teacher. 
If the teacher cared about the student, which it seemed like she did, it is reasonable to be realistic and encourage a plan B, right?  She was just trying to help, I thought to myself...

2. I considered how/ why I give advice to others.
We all bring our own fears/ doubts/ expectations/ disappointments/ biases/ judgments/ preferences/ regrets to our conversations, particularly in the advice we give to others, so it would be no different in the case of this (human) teacher.

3. I wondered whether I've ever said something to a student/ friend/ family member regarding their plan B and hope I never discouraged them to pursue their dreams. 
I hope I haven't, but if I have, this blog is my way to attempt to turn my advice-giving around...

4. Should people actually have plan B? 
Is this something to constantly consider or is a second plan only needed when the first is surely on the chopping block?  I don't like the idea of shopping around for homes/ relationships/ jobs when I'm happy, so is it the same for goals and dreams?  Or should be always think of what's next?  Is it irresponsible to put all of our trust into lofty dreams?

5. Does forming a plan B make you more or less mindful during your day-to-day life? 
Does a backup plan have anything to do with mindfulness or simply preparedness? 

6. I was enormously impressed with the courage, strength, love and support his parents demonstrated for him and his decision to follow his dream. 

Which made me think of:
          a. The triathlon brothers, Conner and Cayden Long.
How incredibly supportive and encouraging is that family that these children even considered competing, but competing together?  It's incredible.  Read their story here.

          b. Mo'ne Davis
I'm sure you've heard of this incredible young lady, but Davis pitched in the little league world series this year.  Again, without support and encouragement, this 13 year old wouldn't have been able to play a male-dominated sport and do it so well.  Read more about her and other inspirational young ladies in this ____ Like A Girl post.

          c. And my own experience leaving home. 
I've discussed my how thoughtful, encouraging, and supportive my mom is in other posts, such as Positive Relationships: I Am My Mother's Daughter, but when I decided to leave Buffalo and move to Virginia, nine hours from home, mom really showed me just how supportive she truly is.  Years afterwards, she said, "I knew if I didn't encourage you to go, you wouldn't flourish like you could.  It's my job as a parent to give you the skills you need to be able to be a productive, strong, kind person, and be able to be on your own.  So, when you wanted to go, even though I wanted you to stay, I knew I had done my job."

So, more than anything you may have gotten from this post, today make time to consider whether you believe in a backup plan approach to life.  And be the type of friend/ family member/ spouse/ parent who helps inspire others to greatness--realizing, and reaching their own potential.

Are you encouraging of the dreams of the people in your life? 
What can you do today to improve how you express your love and support?

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