Monday, July 15, 2013

Reflections of a High School Youth Ambassador - Pressure from Parents to Pursue a Certain Career Path, Not Good

Many students are very fortunate to have their parents involved in their academics. However, for some of them, this is both a blessing and a curse. I understand that parents want the best life possible for their children, but unfortunately, many of them, without even realizing it, mandate a career path for their child that the child may not have any interest in whatsoever. They do this rather than guiding the child to discover their own interests and select their own career path.

This is especially the case amongst many immigrant families where parents immigrated for the sole purpose of providing a better education, and hence a better life, for their children. This was the case for me. Growing up, I was pressured by my parents to excel in academics, which, I must admit, did result in me earning better grades. However, I always felt that there was something wrong with me because I liked reading and writing instead of math and science, which is what my parents wanted me to like. They pushed me to win science fairs and master my times table, which I was neither good at nor fond of. Before I was even ten years old, my parents had instilled in me that in order for me to be successful in life, I would have to grow up and become a doctor. They didn't care what kind of doctor, they didn't care how many years of school it would take, and most shockingly, they didn't care if that was what I wanted or not. It wasn't what I wanted.

During this time, I felt so trapped in school, and trapped within my own life. I pretended to be interested in things that I wasn't interested in, just to make my parents happy. I never shared with them the beautiful poems that I scribbled in my notebook on boring rainy days or the fairy-tales I wrote that my little brothers seemed to enjoy so much, for the fear that they would laugh in my face and tell me that I was wasting my time. My parents finally realized that I was not wasting my time when my grandmother called from Europe one day. She was in tears because of a poem that I had finally gathered enough bravery to write on a Mother's Day card for her. It was then that my parents saw just how much joy words on paper could bring to someone. From that day forward, I was never again ridiculed for preferring to read fairy-tales instead of my science book. I shared every story and every poem that I wrote with my parents, and I didn't have to pretend any longer. I was able to enjoy school more; I was no longer trapped. I greatly valued my parents guidance, but I think I valued their trust in my intuition even more.

I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I were to pursue the career path that my parents want me to. I would have missed so many life changing opportunities such as enrolling into the International Baccalaureate Program, which is one of the best decisions I've ever made, or even joining Lyrical Storm, a poetry performing group. I honestly don't think I would be as happy or as confident in what I want to do in the future as I am today. Because of this, I find it particularly disturbing when I ask one of my peers what they want to be in the future, and they respond with "a doctor" or "a lawyer," and then when I ask them what makes them want to take that career path, they admit that it's because of their parents. There is an incredible amount of pressure on them to meet their parents irrational expectations, and I sympathize with them because I was once in that same situation. I find this so unfortunate because I feel that life is so short that everyone should live it doing a career that they enjoy. I believe that people should put more worth on their happiness than on their salary. The next Picasso may be somewhere getting ridiculed for pursuing his interest in art. The next Beethoven is probably being told that he is wasting his time on the piano. I strongly encourage parents in to guide their children to pursue a career that makes them happy and not just one that will pay well.

Djellza Ramadani