I think something that many students struggle with is deciding what they want to do with their life. Specifically, with their career. Deciding this is a daunting task and something that I personally believe schools and parents do not necessarily prepare you for. How are you supposed to decide at 18 what you are going to do till you retire at 65? Choosing your major and career path in college is scary and something that I definitely struggled with.
Going into college, I had no idea if I wanted to do nursing or psychology or be premed. I was interested in all of those fields and I could not make up my mind as to which one I wanted to pursue more. Thus, as a freshman, I became a psychology major and put myself on the premed track. This meant I was taking science classes that would aid me on my MCAT exam along with my psych courses. It seemed like I had everything together.
I went through my freshman year of college taking both sets of classes only realizing at the end of the year that I was still confused about which path I wanted to take. I say I was confused, however, now looking back I think I was more scared. I was scared because in my heart I knew what my choice was. I knew what I wanted to pursue and what I genuinely enjoyed learning about. However, I was scared to allow myself to choose that option because I knew that my indecisiveness was the only thing that was protecting me from accepting my truth. I carried this fear all through the summer before my sophomore year of college, until I simply couldn’t lie to myself anymore.
A week into my sophomore year of college, I had a complete breakdown. I was trying to read my molecular and cellular biology textbook and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t care about what I was reading about and I kept asking myself why I was putting myself through this. Why was I forcing myself to take classes that I didn’t want to take? Why was I forcing myself to be something that I knew in my heart I wasn’t? Why was I doing this? The answer to all of my fears lied in a simple word: expectation.
There is a great deal of expectation, specifically with Asian immigrant parents that their children become doctors and engineers and lawyers because those jobs are stable and rewarding paycheck wise. Although my parents have never directly said this to me, I knew it was their dream to see me become a doctor. Their expectations were what I was so scared to let down. I was scared I would disappoint them with my choice to not be premed and intern, not be a doctor. I was so scared to tell them how I really felt that it took me almost two years to build up the courage to talk to them.
I remember bawling my eyes out in our car, trying not to look my dad in the eyes when I said that I just wanted to be a psychology major and that I was struggling in my premed classes. I was prepared for the worst. I was prepared to get yelled at and told that I was stupid and that I was disappointing them on all levels. However, to my surprise, my dad calmly said that he wants me to be happy and if premed does not give me that then I should not waste time in a field I have no interest in. My mom was equally as supportive saying that all she wants is for her kids to be happy. I was completely speechless. My parents are the type of parents that give you tough love and do not really care if what they say hurts your feelings. So, knowing how my parent’s operated, I was so shocked that they were so okay with my transition away from premed. I was so shocked that I even asked them why they weren’t upset and why they weren’t yelling at me. They said simply that I gave premed my best effort and if I am that miserable taking those classes, then no parent wants their kid to suffer like that.
I write this article to emphasize that college is your time to figure out what you want to do in your life. Do NOT pursue something just because your parent’s want you to or because you think it will make them happy in the long run. Because their happiness won’t matter if you wake up every single day of your career hating what you do and wishing you had pursued your passion. I am so incredibly grateful that I have parents who were supportive of my decision, but I know that not everyone is as lucky. Talk to your parents and make them understand what you want in life. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself like I was for so long. At the end of the day, this is your life and you deserve to pursue whatever career you believe will give you the most fulfillment in your life.