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Thread: The Parent Problem

  1. #1
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    The Parent Problem

    don__t_give_yourself_away_by_youareviolentred-d550kjj.jpgThis is an image created by a very talented artist who is not me.
    Check out the original here and read the story behind it.


    Initially, this was going to be part of my other post, but halfway through writing "I Have a Dream," I realized that this subject matter is substantially heavier than that, and probably deserves a discussion of its own.

    So here it is: Pressure.

    For a long, long time before I reached my current plan of action (see the link above), I wanted to be a musician. Even when that idea was hazy, I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life, and this fact created some very real and important discord in my family. Everyone close to me has plans for me. Everyone wants to give me advice, and everyone's advice conflicts with everyone else's.

    On the one hand, there's the market to worry about. My stepmother and grandmother are brilliant at reminding me of all the ways I could not find a job with whatever my current major is. It drives me crazy. But they have a very good point--what if I get my degree, can't find a job, and end up working at Mickey D's for the rest of my life?

    On the other hand, I have my uncle and many of my friends telling me to do what I want because college is about finding yourself, and since nothing is certain, everything is equally uncertain. Besides, what if I do go for the boring, sure job? Will I be any happier than if I'd tried for something I loved, failed, and ended up at Mickey D's?

    Ultimately, my solution was to compromise: I'm double-majoring--one major that I want, one major that's safe. A big part of the reason I'm getting a business degree is so that I'll have the security of knowing I can find a job (and so I can get my family off my back). In some ways, I feel as though this is a cop-out on my part. In others, I feel like it's the only responsible thing to do. After all, I'm no longer a child, and there's no safety net to make sure everything turns out okay in the end.

    I'm also lucky, though, in that I feel I can achieve my creative dream without a college degree. I want to be a writer, and virtually every writer I've ever spoken to has told me that you don't need a degree to be a writer: you just have to write. This is not the case with every dream. What if I wanted to be an anthropologist? It's said that an anthropologist can't find a job, and yet they can't be an anthropologist without getting the degree, either.

    I don't think my situation is at all unique. In addition to being a time of wonder and excitement, college is also a time of extreme pressure. Families want the best for their children, and often have very different ideas of what "the best" means. Sometimes the wishes of the would-be student get overlooked in the grand quest for the American Dream.

    Who among you can hear me? Who among you has a similar story to tell? Are you having to deal with this pressure, and if so, how are you doing it? This is your place to ask questions or just to blow off some steam.

    Since I'm still in college, I'm really in no place to be giving advice, but this is the conclusion I've come to: Whatever anyone else says, in the end you're the one who has to live your life. You're under no obligation to follow anyone else's suggestions, no matter how hard they push you. They won't have to live with the consequences. You will.

    Sorry. I know how unhelpful that must seem.

    And now for a word from Doris Day:


  2. #2
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    I've always loved the Arts. I've been in a drama group since I was 4, and I took dance for 6 years, and I've been in choir for years, and I love it all. But I'm also a flutist. I want to be a touring flute soloist, but I also want to act and sing in musicals. I love them both. Unfortunately it's ridiculous to major in both. My mom is pushing me to major in flute, as she says I have more talent there, but I love the Arts SOO much! Advice?

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