The Full of Promise Rising Stars (FPRS) are so successful in their teenage year and their twenties for precisely the same reason why their thirties will be drab and their forties an exercise in complete and utter misery. All of their early successes are motivated not by an internal need to excel in these particular areas but, rather, by the constant need to win the approval and acceptance of adults. The fantastic grades, the awards at school and then, later, at college allow them to play the role of the perfect child whom everybody praises for being good and obedient. Such kids are celebrated by adults for embodying those adults’ dream of seeing an unproblematic, “perfect” child.
The tragedy, however, is that in the process of trying to embody the dreams of adults, such a perfect child never gets a chance to figure out what his or her own dreams are. The entire goal of such a kid’s existence is to please. When s/he grows up, however, there are no more adults to please. Now, you suddenly become an adult, and the criteria you need to fulfill to be successful at this new stage of your life are completely different. Those same adults who praised you and encouraged you are now competing with you. The daily boost of self-esteem suddenly disappears.
Many FPRS attempt to reduce the psychological burden of feeling like their promise amounted to nothing by having kids and pushing them into the role of adult-pleasing little prodigies. These are the parents who boast that their kid could read at three, speak Chinese at five, won 5 dancing competitions by the age of 6, had the best scores at all tests in primary school, etc. This allows them to relive vicariously their own stellar moments of FPRSness. Then, of course, their children become FPRS, and the entire cycle repeats itself.
An alternative way out of the inevitable disillusionment of FPRSness is to do what one was supposed to do during the teenage years and the twenties and start figuring out who one really is, outside of anybody else’s expectations or desires. Of course, this is a task that becomes progressively more difficult as one grows older. More often than not, a successful journey out of the FPRS destiny includes renouncing all the people-pleasing achievements of the previous years and finding a completely new direction of personal development. And that can never be easy.