Good or Bad Idea: Letting Parents Influence Your Decisions|
Sigh. This is a difficult one. Look, I can preach all day about pursuing your passion and following your bliss, and there is much truth and logic to those positions. However, most of us (even as we get into our 30s and 40s) still want the adoring nods, smiles and ”good for you’ pats on the back that accompany approval from the adults who know us best. After all, they have wise perspectives, are full of knowledge, and in many cases, are financing this pursuit of ”bliss’ you are seeking to follow. They should have a say about what you do with the rest of your life, and there is nothing wrong with wanting them to ”get’ and approve of your decisions.
If you are blessed with a valuable think tank, you should engage your sounding board. That is a blessing! It is just important to remember that you should balance your yearning for approval and the advice that may accompany it with trusting your gut instincts. If your plan is well researched and thought out, trust it. Very few parents could have predicted that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Rent the Runway, Birchbox, or Apple would be career options for their children. But they are, and they are good ones.
To that end, many never would have imagined that a person in a field based in a traditional science, like medicine, would also be well-served with a degree in English, marketing, branding or communications (while getting all of their pre-med course work in of course). However, one look at those in medicine and the multiple areas they now explore in their careers, illustrates that what was once the norm is no longer. It is valuable to not be so concerned with following a path, but rather with forging a better one.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, for example, is a cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television personality. Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields are dermatologists who are also successful business women. (They created a little product line the likes of Katie Perry, Justin Bieber, Jessica Simpson, Vanessa Williams, and many more have endorsed: Proactive.) A diverse undergraduate course load or set of interests can be incredibly beneficial and should not be shunned because stating that you are majoring in communications fails to get the same approval rating at the family dinner party as a major in biology. Trust yourself.
At the end of the day, wrong or right, my decisions have served me well. And I believe that if you work hard, stay focused, and take fear out of the equation, whatever decisions you make can serve you well, too. However, by denying myself an early opportunity to tap into what I truly loved and also what I truly despised, I am convinced that I wasted a lot of precious time, missed out on additional experiences, and failed to cultivate talents that were organically there because I felt that they were in contradiction to what I “should” have been doing.
Try with all of your might to avoid getting caught up in society’s version of formulaic success. There are no perfect decisions and there are no roads ahead that are forged with promises of perfection, ease and a picture-perfect life. There is only the life that you create. I just hope that after reading this, you will build that life (in college and after) based on your truth and make a commitment to be honest with yourself. It’s hard enough to pursue dreams. Make sure that the dreams that you are pursuing are your own.
Do your parents or other family members influence your major decisions? Tell us in the comments section.