Pressure In College

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Good morning!

Eric and I got sucked into The Marriage Ref again last night! I hope they never cancel the show. We may or may not have a crush on the host, Tom Papa. ;) His little grin is so cute!

I was up around 5:30am and was off to work!

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I still have about 200 bars to make today!

breakfast called…

A fresh juice composed of cucumber, ginger, carrot, beet, and apple:

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I buy a lot of my juice produce from the discount bin at our grocery store. It saves a ton of money. This is a beat up apple that was going to be tossed had I not saved it. :)

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Beets make everything look pretty… Or like blood splatter as one reader commented. Ew.

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Rainbow sorbet!

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Use your good glasses… Also, use your good towels. ;)

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I got a set of these wine glasses from my sister (they gave them out as favours at their wedding) and I fell in love with them the first time I used them. I bet she never thought they would get so much use! I use them for green monsters, juices, wine, cantaloupe margaritas, etc. :mrgreen:

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I had my juice along with a GF + Raw Glo Bar.

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A very energizing breakfast!

Pressure In College

One of the things I get emailed about the most is my A Year Can Change A Lot Series (found here). This series documents how I was able to leave a miserable situation and find a career that I was passionate about. This led to quitting a stable job and despite all fears, deciding that I would do whatever it takes to be happy.

It is not an easy road. Many of you have emailed me with your stories. I received this email a while back and with Becky’s permission, I will share it with you:

“Hi Angela, Thank you, thank you, thank you for your AYCCA series. It really hit home with me. I have been miserable in school for a while now. You see, I started off doing what I thought I should do– a hard science degree– because my parents have always wanted me to pursue medical school like they did. I took hard sciences because everyone said that it opened the most doors for me even if I did end up changing the idea of going to med school. I am almost finishing up my 3rd year of my science degree and I have to say this has been the most miserable 3 years of my life. Instead of embracing the college experience like all of my friends I am stressed out and unhappy. Sometimes I tear up in the middle of class because I am so lost in the coursework and I feel so in over my head. Sciences just don’t ‘click’ with me!

I have to spend all my free time studying, just to pull a B average and even that disappoints my parents. They tell me I need straight A’s or I will never get into med school. I just feel so depressed right now. In my heart, I know that science is not for me. I don’t have a burning fire to do this. I feel like I would be a huge let down to my parents if I didn’t at least get my degree and then see what happens. They tell me, ‘Becky just stick with something once in your life and finish it.’  How could I do otherwise?

For the past 3 years, I have been going through the motions of college.

So many times, I have wanted to switch my major. I have always had a love of the arts. I am creative and I love to write poetry. I have notebooks and notebooks filled with my poetry. I also love to draw and I have been designing logos for friends on the side for a bit of extra money. This stuff keeps me sane.

Luckily I have a supportive boyfriend during all of this time. He has told me from the beginning to switch my major and go into the arts. He doesn’t really get along with my parents because he sees how unhappy they can make me. I know they just want the best for me, but I am having a hard time figuring this out for myself when they have such strong opinions about it all.

This email is way too long and I will be surprised if you are still reading, but thank you for putting yourself out there and giving me hope that I can do something now before it is too late. I feel like I am either going to make the change now or 30 years from now. What is worse? I just feel stuck and I wonder if you or any of your readers are going through the same situation or have been through it?”

Luckily I have never had pressure from my parents to pursue a specific degree, but I can imagine how hard it would be. I personally feel that it is always best to listen to your heart. I feel that many people ignore it and then when they are 50 they decide to finally make a career change and do what makes them happy. I say don’t wait. Life is too short to delay your happiness. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and I would have died knowing that I was doing what I loved. If you know in your heart right now that you hate what you are doing, take steps to change that. See a career counselor at your college. I could have saved myself 7 years pursuing something I knew wasn’t for me if I had listened to my heart. I would probably have a heart to heart with my parents and tell them how I felt. I don’t think you can ever communicate too much. Maybe if they knew how unhappy you really were, they would be open to discussion?

Today’s question: Have you ever been in Becky’s shoes? Have you ever felt pressure from parents to go into a career you weren’t passionate about? What did you do?

~~~

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. – Margaret Young

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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin April 20, 2010

Fortunately I never got pressure like that from my parents to pursue a certain degree or major, but I can certainly relate to how she’s feeling. Right now I feel like I go through the motions at my job and am not passionate about it. My life has changed drastically in the last year as health and fitness has become a central part of my life. I started to blog so I am doing something regularly that I am passionate about and hope to move into a position in the health/fitness area. I’d love to work with other people to help them make a change and embrace a healthy lifestyle like I have.

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2 Jessica @ How Sweet April 20, 2010

I never felt pressure, but I knew I just wanted to be a trainer, and my dad kind of ‘coerced’ me into finishing with a business degree. In my experience, my parents have always been right, and I am so glad I have that degree.

I agree with you, Angela. Life is WAY too short. If there is a way to change things, do it. If it can’t be done immediately, take each and every step in that direction. If it is miserable now, it probably won’t get much better once school is over. And this is YOUR life – you want to do what you are passionate about.

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3 Heather (Heather's Dish) April 20, 2010

i did for a while, and i actually got a degree in something i didn’t love because of it. but the more i work the more i realize that you can do what you’re passionate about without a degree in that specific area (minus healthcare and law). the key is to become an expert in something…and expert doesn’t require a degree but a firm base of knowledge that you can get from reading, writing, studying, joining organizations, interviews, etc.

all that to say that if i had it to do again, i would have changed majors, but since i didn’t i’ve had to find ways around that fact! life’s too short to worry about mistakes!

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4 Meghan@traveleatlove April 20, 2010

I never had pressure to pursue a certain career, but I did have a “never good enough” father which impacted every part of my life for many years. It took a lot of self work to realize that those expectations are just a projection of someone else’s dreams or insecurities. Your life is yours alone, and you are the one who has to go to sleep happy at the end of the day.

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5 Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 20, 2010

What a tough situation. I’m all for saying change majors!! If you are this unhappy now, I hate to say it, it isn’t going to get better- what comes next? Being miserable in med school, then hating being a doctor? You have to do what you’re passionate about it. They never mention in college how your major affects your life afterwards- you need to find something that will let you work AND be happy in life. College is 4 years- life is a lot longer. I can hear the passion for arts & poetry just from the email- it would be amazing if she could find a way to incorporate that. All that being said, there’s still the difficult situation of the parents- I think it’s important to get them to understand how much this is impacting you. Maybe write it all down, or set up a meeting with them so you can all sit down to discuss it when you’re calm & not angry with each other. Or both. Good luck to you Becky- I hope you find a way to be happy & passionate in school & your career- and life! :)

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6 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

I love this ‘College is 4 years- life is a lot longer’

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7 Shannon, Tropical Eats April 20, 2010

I can def understand what Becky is going through. I pursued a degree in Business Administration bc I thought it was the “safest” degree to graduate with. Luckily I discovered the Marketing–a specialization option for the Business Administration degree–and instantly fell in love with it. I loveeee the creativity aspect of it and cannot wait to begin a career within the food industry utilizing all of the skills I’ve gained from school.

Overall, I truly believe in the quote “Do what you like, like what you do.”

Here is another favorite quote of mine: “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

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8 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Great quote!

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9 Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete April 20, 2010

I was in your shoes, Becky. I pursued a premed bach degree for 2 years, then a mechanical engineering degree for 1 year until I finally realized that I did not want to be unhappy anymore. The competition with the premed students was insane, and it was to the point that no one wanted to help each other b/c they didn’t want their comrades to get a better grade on the test than them. I wasn’t grasping the material, not because it was hard, it was because I wasn’t interested. I was devastated when I finally changed my major and added 2 more years onto my undergrad degree. I wasn’t going to be a doctor anymore but it turned out to be the best decision of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without my environmental science degree (what I finally chose as a major), and I have not looked back since. I’m currently pursuing my masters in env eng/science and I couldn’t be happier. Please go with your dreams. Stop wasting your time. Your parents will understand in time if they truly love you and want you to be happy. :)

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10 Jessica April 20, 2010

I’ve definitely been in Becky’s position. My parents set a high bar, not only academically but personally. I was expected to be a certain person, and it was very black and white. It was their way or the highway.

I’m 28 now, and I lived much of my teens and twenties walking the fine line they put in front of me. Even when I thought I was walking straight, they just raised the bar a little higher. The moral of my story is, …STOP! They may love you, but they don’t know how to love you outside of controlling you. If you’re this miserable, there’s a reason, and it’s never going to stop unless you draw your own line. Take control, do what makes YOU happy, and let the chips fall where they will. There will be fallout, but it won’t be worse than a decade wasted in the wrong direction or continually being hurt when you can do nothing but disappoint their ridiculous expectations. If you do what you love, you’ll always be successful, maybe not monetarily but who wants to chase money?

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11 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

I love the quote ‘If you do what you love the money will eventually follow’

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12 Emmanuelle April 20, 2010

Like Beth I never had pressure from my parents to pursue a certain degree, they always supported my brother and I in our choices, even though they didn’t always understand them. I studied Languages and Economics and work now as a PA, and my brother is a baker (French buttercream-laden goodies anyone?). Now I’m miserable in my job and am on the path of changing careers completely, it will take a few years still and it’s a completely different story so let’s leave it at that.

For Becky, I would also say to speak to your parents. You can’t go on feeling miserable forever, now’s the time to switch major. You say you would be a huge let down for your parents, but would you bear being a let down for you? Listen to your heart :-)

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13 Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 20, 2010

I’ve felt a little pressure to continue with this architecture thing. I have considered going into psychology, or my favorite, going to culinary school. But it was so difficult to get into the school, and I don’t mind doing the work, so I guess I’m just sticking with this major.

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14 Heather (Where's the Beach) April 20, 2010

Thankfully my parents never pressured me on what career path to take. I, however, pressured myself into taking a job for the money rather than for the love of the job. 8 years later, I was crying every single morning before work and even during the day at work. I affected every part of my life. I was miserable beyond words. If I had it to do all over again, I would never have chosen a job for the money. All you can do is live and learn though. I don’t think that anyone should ever have to be so miserable and hope that Becky can change her situation somehow.

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15 Allie (Live Laugh Eat) April 20, 2010

I have some pressure from my parents but the pressure mostly comes from my classmates. I am graduating in less than a month and I have yet to apply for a job or go on an interview. I don’t even have my resume updated from last year. You know why? Because I don’t WANT a desk job and don’t want to be an investment banker and I don’t WANT to go to grad school….

The last couple of years have been less than optimal for me. I’ve had a less than stellar (okay, pretty bad) experience at school and one thing I’ve realized is that my happiness is far more important than anything else. I also am the type of person that will not be satisfied unless I am doing something I love and not feeling like I am wasting my time.

Thus, I am going to pursue what I love and that is baking. I have no baking degree and the only experience I have is in my own kitchen. BUT I’m willing to give it a try and I hope someone gives me a chance.

My parents paid $200,000 for my education for me to NOT have to get an hourly paid job but they too want me to be happy. They’re supporting me no matter what (I hope).

Follow your heart my dear!!

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16 Katy April 20, 2010

I wish I could accuse my parents of my bad decision, but they’re entirely supportive. I just wouldn’t listen to my heart. I was working at a daycare to support myself and LOVING it as I attended law school (which I hated). 2 weeks into law school I knew I should leave and pursue a teaching license. 4 years of work, and I still dream of doing that. I still won’t let myself until I at least pay off the law school loans, though. Listen to yourself now before you get in deeper!

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17 EaterNotARunner April 20, 2010

I can relate to that feeling 100%. I was a math major in college because it was easy (yes I am a nerd) and my parents saw it as a path to making a lot of money. Looking back, I wish I had pursued what I was interested in….I probably would be a lot happier in my career today. Don’t wait!

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18 Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg April 20, 2010

I think my parents were a little worried when I decided to go to grad school for poetry/creative writing (who makes money writing poetry?!?), but they held their tongues because they knew that it was my passion and what I needed to pursue. If you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make it worth, and luckily, this was always the message that my parents chose to send to me.

Plus, I think they could see that I was putting enough stress and pressure on myself as it was already, and they didn’t need to add any more!

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19 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 20, 2010

I think university is an awesome experience and one that allows you mature and develop as a person. Whether or not you pursue a career in your area of study doesn’t really matter.

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20 Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg April 20, 2010

whoops– make it WORK :-)

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21 Anne P April 20, 2010

How sad to read how you’re feeling, Becky :( I’m with everyone else – screw tradition, screw what everyone else wants you to do, and do what YOU want to do. Like you said – it’s either going to happen now or in the future, so why wait? There’s no point in living life for other people, and the longer you wait, the more stressed out about it you’ll become.

Good luck and you can do it!! :)

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22 grace b April 20, 2010

Good luck Becky! While I have never faced pressure from my parents I certainly feel my own pressure. I’ve been having some doubts about where my major (Religion) is going to take me and wondered about tacking on a second minor (finished my Political Science minor but I would love to minor or double major in Environmental Science). And while I don’t feel like my major dictacts I take a particular job I’m just afraid that I’ll end up not even using it or being proud of it in the future. But in the end I know that I need to make job choices based on what I want and what I feel and when it isn’t satisfying anymore, I’ll change it.

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23 Nicole @ making good choices April 20, 2010

Great post! I went to a private college for undergrad and my masters for a degree in special education. While I was going to school I loved it. It wasn’t until I finished school and taught for a couple of years that I am considering changing careers. I don’t have any pressure from my family its more from myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a change soon! Thanks for the post.

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24 Whitney @ Lettuce Love April 20, 2010

I hope your reader realizes that she is not alone! We have all been there. I went to college for business (finance degree) and it was a good idea at the time because I’ve always loved business but recently I have found myself wondering what would have happened if I had gone to cooking school. If you know what makes you happy, you just have to do it. Don’t wait to start your life.

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25 Alanna April 20, 2010

I have absolutely been in Becky’s shoes! The first two years of my undergraduate degree I was enrolled in an Economics program. I was so unhappy and it took EVERYTHING in me to just make C or B grades. The work was so tedious and dry and like you Becky I would find myself tearing up in class or not being able to catch my breath, or receiving an exam back and having to hold back the tears. I took an Anthropology class as an elective and it was a giant breathe of fresh air, I was so content and happy while working on the material for that course and knew that it was really what I wanted to do. I dropped the Economics program the next fall and picked up a Anthropology/Folklore major. I finished my program and am starting my Masters in the Fall. It was the best decision of my life and I am so much more happy because of it.

Don’t wait, do what makes you happy!

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26 Kendall April 20, 2010

This one line ‘Becky just stick with something once in your life and finish it.’ resinates with me the most.

I get that feeling from my mom and my brother the most. I understand that they want the most for me, but I, like many of the women who have commented here, don’t want to settle.

It has come down to an ultimatum from my mom of “Well you’d better pick something before you are 25.” Or comments from my brother about which career I should go into because of the great paycheques, and then rolled eyes when I say that wouldn’t be for me.

As I write that down it doesn’t sound very supportive of my family, and it probably isn’t, but I know they want the best for me even though they might not show it in very supportive ways.

That being said, it is still VERY hard to continuously stick up for yourself on anything future related when you yourself have NO idea what you want to do.

Challenging it is to figure that out, but as it stands I know that it is something worth holding out for.

So Becky – I guess in answer to your question, yes, I too am going through the same sort of situation.

Let’s keep our chins up shall we?

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27 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Thanks for sharing..I wish you the best with everything! *hugs*

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28 nut April 20, 2010

I did 2 university degrees because …IDK why. I did them. Both are in the sciences fields…the second is a professional degree in a healthcare field. So that is my profession now. The thing is that I hate it. It sucks my soul from me…it has contributed to a ton of unhappiness and (dare I say) depression.
Unfortunately, I also have 7 full years of student loans, student line of credits, a car (and monthly payments), insurance, living, groceries, etc etc etc…basically I have a lot of debt and nothing.
I would love nothing more than to work at a job that pays less…but the truth is that I can barely scrape by by working my job…
and my job pays in the range of 26-35 bucks an hour…while I cannot find that in other jobs.
My interests are in nutrition, creative writing, journalism, culinary arts, etc…blogging fulltime..book deals..these are my dreams :)
unfortunately, positions in these fields would pay far far less..I would take the pay cut, if it were possible…but its not..
my bills MUST be paid…I am barely able to afford rent now.
The sad thing is that I am almost 29 years old…and I see “no way out ‘ for a while…trying to trooper through with a good attitude…TRYING…if i can appreciate the little things now, then I think it will make me stronger.

I admit tons of jealousy when I see others with book deals…or quitting jobs to pursue their dreams (i dont understnad how they manage the money…i suppose my debt is deeper)…or i see people changing careers…or buying fancy kitchen equipment…I honest to god own one fork ,knife and spoon :) not cool.
anywya, sorry for the rant..

i just keep feeling there must be a better way out of my 9-5 hated profession..but its not there…maybe someday..unfortunately i will be like 40 years old :)
but better late than never i suppose

i just sincerely REGRET ever having done the 2 degrees i did (the second one i knew immediately it didnt FIT ME…but i did it anyway…i could not stand the idea that I would “not finish something”…that would be too horrible …

if i knew then what i knew now

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29 Miranda April 20, 2010

I never got pressure from my parents with regards to school. The only times they were involved with my schooling choices was 1) when I was in gr. 11 and wanted to drop out of French Immersion. They said no, I stuck with it. 2) My dad didn’t want me getting into social work as he was worried for my physical safety and emotional well beeing.

I got into social work, and have been here for 6+ years.

Currently I hate my jobs. I have 3, 1 part time, 1 full time and 1 casual call in. I work so much just to keep my head afloat. There is no moeny hear, I am not being challenged skill wise or being satisfied emotionally.

Currently I am looking into going back to school to do something completely different.

Finger Crossed!

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30 Miranda April 20, 2010

Ugh, sorry for the typos!

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31 Astrid April 20, 2010

I am in the same situation. I am finishing up a masters degree doing research I barely care about. I spend most of my time dreaming up new recipes, creating art, and writing. I’m currently trying to put my mind together and figure out exactly what my goals are in life. I have gotten too bogged down by everyone else’s expectations, and never listened to what I truly wanted, what I truly get giddy about.
My things: cooking and baking, paint and drawing, working with people and helping them, teaching, theater.
The one thing that always holds me back is money…I wish it didn’t exist!
It is aactually really nice to know that so many of us are in similar shoes. Looking for that magic sign of inspiration to change our lives around and make ourselves happy.

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32 Estela @ Weekly Bite April 20, 2010

In a way I can understand what Becky is going through.

My parents just wanted me to get a degree…. everything else was up to me.

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33 Meg April 20, 2010

I actually work in a career center at a university and have seen success come from many similar situations! My advice would be to talk to a career counselor at your university. They are certified counselors and can help you not only figure out what to do with your major or help you change your major, but they can also give you advice on how to approach your parents regarding this situation. Even if you just need an unbiased opinion, the people in your career center can help! :)

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34 Kristan April 20, 2010

I am an academic advisor and I see this all the time. Students want to please their parents, be able to have a job when they get out of school, and make money. I tell students all the time you have to live your life how you want to, you only get one. It you want to paint then paint but realize that you might need to look into additional jobs until your paintings sell. I loved psychology but my parents didn’t know what I could do with that degree. I did my research and found a career I would love to go to every day and not care if I didn’t make 6 figures. I enjoy my job everyday and that is what everyone, including parents should wish for.

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35 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Love this

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36 Megan E (sweeton) April 20, 2010

I wholeheartedly, 100% agree with Angela. Don’t wait! This comes from my own experience just recently.

Three years ago I was accepted into an Ivy-League Ph.D. program in German Studies. It sounds amazing, and it’s an accomplishment, but it took me about a week to realize that the road to being a professor hardly resembled all the talk about “getting paid to teach/study/do what you love.” My heart was not in it, and I found the work irrelevant to my life and values. I couldn’t relate to my fellow students and their fervor for academia. I stuck it out for two horrible years, trying to tell myself that it was just an adjustment period, that it would get easier and better, that I’d come so far and was supposed to be really smart and why did it feel so difficult if this was what I wanted?

Everything in your letter hits home with me, the willing yourself to do something, the struggle to succeed, the tears and sadness. I went to therapy for depression. I isolated myself from everyone. It’s almost difficult for me to talk about, it was such a dark period in my life. Last Spring, I was finally able to quiet the other voices and listen to what I wanted. So I quit my program and never looked back. I feel AMAZING and I know I am doing the right thing.

Please believe in yourself. It is YOUR life, not your parents’. You can do anything you put your mind to, that’s not just a saying or some words. It’s true! And more importantly you deserve to do what you want to do and be happy with yourself. Take the plunge. Don’t look back.

Go Becky!!!

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37 Tracey April 20, 2010

My husband and I LOVE watching the marriage ref. Alec Baldwin cracks me up whenever he is on the show!

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38 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

They are all positively INSANE and we love it.

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39 Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 20, 2010

A friend of mine is in medical school right now because her parents threatened to cut her off financially unless she majored in bio, went to med school and became a doctor. She was too afraid to stand up to them and is going into a career she dislikes just because of that. It makes me so sad. My parents were and are supportive even as I pursue a career (journalism and freelance writing) that will never make me rich. Happiness is the most important thing.

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40 Lisa April 20, 2010

I’m really lucky to have parents that don’t care what I do as long as I’m happy. I think there was more pressure on my younger brother to NOT have certain careers. He was leaning towards becoming a police officer and my parents weren’t happy about that.

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41 Lisa April 20, 2010

Becky, I definitely know how you’re feeling. I experienced similar feelings over the past two years.

My Dad doesn’t pressure me per se, but he wants me to be a lawyer. I myself thought I wanted to pursue law, but I actually really love anthropology. I’m in my 4th year of my degree and am looking forward to pursuing graduate work, but it took me a while to realized that I love it…

I thought that I should be a doctor or something more respectable than the vague title of “anthropologist”, so I took some science classes and, while I thought they were interesting, I found they were extremely limited in scope and did not provide me with the critical framework present in anthropology.

I’ve even thought about stopping my degree and doing nursing for fear that I won’t find a job when I’m done anthropology, and the demand for nursing where I live is HUGE. I started looking into other nursing programs and was feeling the stress pile-on.

I was miserable: I couldn’t focus on my school work, couldn’t sleep, was really emotional. I then decided to just “go with the flow” and focus on my classes, not worrying about the future.

I realized that I AM an anthropologist, that I want to be one, and that I absolutely love the discipline. But, if you have already realized that the sciences are not for you, leave them. “Break-up” with the discipline, seriously! I think the thing that helped me decide what I wanted to do the most was asking myself the question “If I died tomorrow, and I could only ‘do’ one day of work, what would I do?”. For me, the thought of being a lawyer, doctor, or nurse for that one day made me feel dissatisfied. But an anthropologist….that’s something else ;).

Ask yourself that question, and whatever the answer is, DO IT. Practicalities, money, all of that will follow suit. You may be stressed for the first little while, and it will be tough, but it WILL be worth it. Don’t waste your life doing what your parents want to do, because the truth is, they aren’t you.

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42 Life Lite April 20, 2010

I am so hoping to pursue something of my own one day. It’s not that I hate my job, in fact I like it for the most part and I love the people I work with. I never dread going to work. But at the same time I want more. I want to be my own boss and spend my days working away at my passions. My Husband is in law school and our lives and my career are pretty much on standby until we find out what job he will have and where. I am the sole provider right now but I am literally counting down the days until we find out. I’m so hoping for a drastic move that will give me no choice but to leave my job (which is not transferable to most locations) and have the opportunity to really focus on what I want for a while. Here’s to hope and time!

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43 Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman April 20, 2010

Thankfully my parents never forced any career on me. I wanted to be a writer since I was little and they nurtured that and supported me. I was one of only a few of my friends who knew what they wanted to do right away—no fumbling with majors or possible careers. I think it’s so important to really question you passions and see where you want to end up. Then work toward it. Life can feel really long if you’re not doing something you love.

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44 Shannon April 20, 2010

I’ve been in Becky’s shoes! I had tremendous pressure from my parents to major in business. They were only willing to pay for my tuition if I majored in business and graduated with a good job. I got the good job, at a firm that lured me into a free graduate degree, provided I work for the firm for 4 years. I got myself stuck on this automatic, easy, successful path that a lot of people would love, but I was miserable! Soon after starting the firm, I decided that I NEEDED to pursue my passion (speech pathology). I started taking some on-line classes, and I am starting a full time grad program in the fall! It’s a few years too late, but sometimes I’m so excited that it’s actually happening that I tear up thinking about it :)

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45 Camille April 20, 2010

I have changed my major quite a few times throughout my past 3 years of college and before I landed on Nutrition, a major which I am actually passionate about, I dabbled in every field. I fully intended to become a film reporter at one point (and this would still be a dream career for me!) but my mom didn’t support the decision at all. She told me it had no financial security. I already had my food in the door by the middle of my freshman year, so this wasn’t true at all. I ended up abandoning my dream because my family didn’t support it. Luckily I found something else I am just as passionate about, but I still hope that I can pursue my first love at some point.

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46 NC April 20, 2010

I’m from India , and in my family all my cousins are either an engineer or a doctor , reason being they are proffessions that pay you well and are respected ( atleast to my parents who are both accountants and earn pretty well..) Growing up we were told this what we should pursue … I was good at Math and Science , so never saw any issue with it , till it came to deciding to be an engineer/doctor .. unfortunately I liked being an architect .. I loved architecture , I sat in for the exams for the engineer/doctor ,and told my dad if i did both would he allow me to sit in on the architecture exam ( to each proffesion in india you sit in a exam where they rate among the other students applying for the same school.) so he did , and I did great even scored the highest in architecture , still my dad thought I should not pursue that .. I cried so much … and went onto be and engineer and work as an engineer … because that was expected of me .. , but in my case being an engineer did not make me miserable , since I did not hate it , but it wouldn’t have been my preference , if you absolutely feel miserable doing it , then I would defintely suggest , changing your major , I don’t hate what I do but I always wonder if I would have been better if I had gone that route…

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47 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Its never too late :)

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48 Anna April 20, 2010

I could’ve written this letter myself. For 2 1/2 years, I killed myself doing a dual degree engineering program at one of the best engineering schools in the country. My parents are engineers and were so proud that I was continuing the legacy, but they did know I was supremely unhappy. My dad thought (and still thinks) that I should just stick it out, regardless of how depressed or defeated I felt, but my mom was much more understanding and ultimately encouraged me to make the switch to a humanities major. While my dad still doesn’t get what it is that I’m doing, he realizes how much happier I am. I just wish I had admitted defeat earlier and saved myself a lot of sleepless nights and awful exams.

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49 jen trinque April 20, 2010

Oh dear, Becky, listen to your heart!!! I truly believe we are all meant to do special and amazing things on this earth, but we can only truly do them if we are following our guts. If you think about the schooling you are doing now, and the kind of job it could lead to, how does your body feel? Probably like a tensed up lead ball! Then think about something you’d enjoy pursuing, something creative. I bet your heart and body feel so much more freedom!

Your parents probably think they know what’s best for you, but you are 100% the only person who can ever really know! If anyone (family, friend, or professional) every tells you they know what’s best for you, run the other way!

I think you already know what you want…go for it! Your parents will still love you, and even better you’ll feel like yourself again.

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50 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

yup– ‘I truly believe we are all meant to do special and amazing things on this earth, but we can only truly do them if we are following our guts’

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51 Janna ~ Just Flourishing April 20, 2010

Believe me, I’ve been there. I hated my Psychology major for the first 3 years of college, switched into Marketing in my last year and thought I would love it. Got a job in Public Relations and HATED it. Throughout those years, those my parents were supportive, I could tell they weren`t completely happy with my choices.

I am now pursuing a my RD and they`re still not happy. They want me to go to med school. But I know, that the pressure only stems from them wanting me to be happy and successful. I also know that I have to do what I want to do, not what someone else wants me to do. I guess it`s something you learn in time. YOU are the only person who can make yourself happy. You can`t live your life to please others.

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52 K April 20, 2010

Yes! My parents definitely had me pegged to be the academic kid who would go off to University, get a degree etc. but I opted instead to pursue ballet with the idea that I can go to University anytime but you can only dance for so long (it’s a super short career) The whole time my parents have continued to push me to quit, and go to school and just dance on the side but to me that is giving up and letting go of my dreams. For the past few years we kind of had a compromise going on where I was taking correspondance courses while continuing to dance, however this year they basically told me I needed to pick; full-time school or dance. We have had MANY discussions, involving lots of tears, about the situation and while they don’t like my choice they ultimately have accepted it and it made me so happy when my dad said (after another one of those phone calls) “we might not agree with everything you choose to do, but we will support you in whatever you end up doing”.
I would recommend talking to them, maybe even write up a list of points. I think deep down, all parents just want their kids to be happy and successful, so if you bring it to them in a mature way and point out various options etc. I think they might just come around (or at least to the extent my parents did).
Good Luck!
-K

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53 Caroline April 20, 2010

I never had a strong drive like Becky does, never had a strong interest in any particular area. My parents let me study what I wanted, though my dad did always express concern about my French major. Now I’ve figured out what I want to do, am back in school, and feel terrible having wasted my parents’ money on one degree when had I taken a slightly different direction, I’d only have to take a few major specific classes to get my new one. I seriously wish I had the money to start paying them back, but I’m stuck in a boring, low paying, dead end job.
Basically, if Becky knows what she wants and knows how she wants to apply that degree to a real life job, she should go for it, but writing and art is something you can always do on the side and slowly shift over to once you build up a bit of a nest egg.

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54 Coley April 20, 2010

I think you ultimately have to do what makes you happy! I switched majors 4 times before finally graduating with a nutrition degree. I was always in the sciences though, so it didn’t set me back all that much. Is there a way for you to pursue another science degree that you may enjoy more? Then maybe minor in arts?

It’s tricky because you want to do what makes you happy, but there is a lot more to think about. You don’t want to make your parents unhappy, and you do have to think about the added expense of starting over in another major.

It is your life, and you can’t live it to make others happy all the time. If your parents only want you to be successful and happy, then in time, they will understand if you change your major.

Life is short, don’t spend any amount of time doing something you hate!

Good luck, Becky!

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55 Amber C April 20, 2010

oh my! story of my life! I have absolutely been in Becky’s shoes and I still am. Last may I graduated college with my BABA, just to have a degree basically to make my parents happy. Talk about going through the motions! However, I could not decide on a job that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life (sitting in a cubicle isn’t for me). Recently I decided to go back to school (starting from scratch) to pursue a physical therapy assistant program. Of course the parents love this idea, until more recently that I also decide I would like to be certified to teach yoga (which is my true passion). Parents like this idea? nah, not so much. However after seeking out a path that makes them happy for so long, and not myself, I decided that I have nothing to lose by pursuing my dreams. Life’s way too short. I think the moral of the story for all of us (most of us making the transition to or from college specifically) is that we want our parents to be proud of us, but more importantly, we want to be proud and happy with what we choose to do in life and hopefully given the choices that we make, our parents will follow. It’s really tough sometimes to separate what we THINK we should do from what our parents say, and what we FEEL we should do in our heart.

“Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”
Harvey MacKay

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56 Maura April 20, 2010

I consider myself pretty lucky & have never felt pressure from my parents to pursue any specific career. However, many of my friends have and I’ll tell you why. They are in the exact same shoes as you are. I was a science major in college and I am currently in the process of applying to medical schools. Naturally, many of my friends from college are in the same boat. Some of them by their own choice, others not-so-much. I’ll ask you the same question I always ask them: Would you ever want to be treated or seen by a doctor that didn’t have a passion for being your doctor? I know I wouldn’t. In the end, your happiness is way more important. Be true to yourself. It is your life, not anyone else’s. Spend your time doing what you want to do, not what you think you should be doing. Best of luck. It will all work out :)

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57 Maureen April 20, 2010

I will tell you a story a very wise high school teacher told me over 30 years ago. He had a friend whose parents wanted him to be a doctor, even though this is not what he wanted he went through school and became a doctor. The day after he graduated from medical school he had a nervouse breakdown and was never the same again. As a parent I know you want your children to respect you but I do not believe we have the right to dictate what you do for a living. I say follow what you are passionate about and you will be successful. Also what is the point of spending even more money on a degree you do not want.

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58 Sam April 20, 2010

YES. My parents wanted me to go into a “solid” field – something where jobs were guaranteed for the long haul. I didn’t know what I wanted to do going into college but soon discovered that I loved Psychology (I did realize the career implications attached to this major). However, my parents were not comfortable with my pursuing that so, instead, I went into Accounting. Toward the end I really disliked it and questioned many times what the heck I was doing, but I finished my degree because my parents were paying for it and I figured I’d be able to fake it til I made it – act the part until I eventually enjoyed Accounting.

After college, I got a job as a staff accountant at a small tax firm. I loved the people I worked with, but after a year and a half of tax accounting and taking FOREVER to study for just one piece of the CPA exam, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take being in a field I had zero interest in. I found a new job and resigned from the firm.

My parents weren’t crazy about the idea but by this point I was 100% on my own and I was ready to face them and say, look, I love you and I appreciate the sacrifices you made to put me through school, but this isn’t working. I’m sorry, I know this is what you wanted, but I can’t stand it. I am not happy.

I took a position as an Executive Assistant (some accounting knowledge was required so at least I’d used my major for something!) and haven’t looked back. Now, I’m not saying this is my idea career. It certainly is not and I still have the occasional minor breakdown wondering what I ultimately want to do with myself. But it’s livable. I’m actually making more now than I did as a beginner at the tax firm and I am content to be here for now while I figure things out.

One thing I wanted to say that doesn’t get covered in a lot of these “should I finish my degree even if I hate it?” discussions is that I have definitely found my degree to be a detriment to my current situation. Don’t get me wrong – having SOME degree is important. However, having a degree in something that I hate and having to put it on my resume pigeonholes me.

Potential employers say, oh, I see you have an Accounting degree, well, you’d be great for this other position and we’ll come to you whenever we have accounting questions.” And when people ask, so what’s your degree in? I say, Accounting, and they say, oh, that’s awesome, let me ask you about this. I can’t escape this darn degree.

Long story short, if I had a college redo, I’d either major in Psychology and deal with the consequences, major in Psychology and then consider going all the way to PhD, or major in something versatile but useful like Management. I would not finish the “good” degree just to have it because that opens up a whole new can of worms once you get into the work force.

Btw, my parents got over their disappointment pretty quickly once they saw just how unhappy I was. I should’ve confronted them sooner.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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59 Jil April 20, 2010

I’ve never felt…say SPECIFIC pressure from my family – but definitely pressure in general…to have a degree and a white collar job. My entire family works in either banking or law. They don’t expect me to necessarily go into those specific fields but it’s expected that I work a corporate type of job – I honestly don’t know what my parents would do if one day I was like “I want to pursue acting” or something like that.

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60 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Its interesting to think about isn’t it?

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61 Dawn April 20, 2010

Wow, Angela! What a great opportunity for Becky to get a lot of advice.

I was never forced into doing anything I didn’t want to, but I always felt that I had to take whatever job was available.

Only recently I’ve started doing what I really love, and it has made such an amazing difference in my life. My work does not feel like work! I love doing it, it is rewarding on so many levels, and I wish I would have started this a long, long time ago!

My advice to Becky is this: Sit down with your parents and have a heart-to-heart talk with them. Explain how you are feeling. You need to follow your heart, and do what makes you happy! If science isn’t your thing after all this time, chance are, it never will be. If you know what you love to do, pursue that.

Good Luck!!! and let us know what happens!

Angela, thanks for your blog, I love it!

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62 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Thank you Dawn :)

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63 katie@ Fab.Fit.Full. April 20, 2010

I had a similar experience choosing between a performing arts college where I could excel at dancing or a business school to pursue an actual career. My parents were supportive of ANYTHING I wanted to do which was amazing, but for me it came to being honest with my goals, abilities and future plans. I knew that I wanted to have a family and a comfortable life, but I also wanted to be inspired by whatever I was doing. Right now I am studying marketing and dancing on the side, which is making me very happy at the moment. I think it is all about balancing your wants and being honest with yourself about your capabilities.

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64 Kristin April 20, 2010

Oh Goodness can I relate! I did come out of college with an English degree with honors….but have spent the years since wandering and miserable. Last summer my therapist had me take a personality test, and when I came up as an “Artist” I had a lot of bells go off. The intellect was very important in my family, and starting in middle school I forced myself to academic excellence because that was what was expected of me. Denying my creativity…or limiting it to ‘hobby’ was probably the worst thing I ever did to myself! At 36, I’m only now allowing for the possibility of a more creative lifestyle….and after denying that for over 20 years, believe me it’s hard to let go and play with that idea. But it’s never to late…and at least I’m now finally moving in the right direction!

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65 Carol April 20, 2010

You HAVE to do what you want to do. I studied accountancy for three years. The first two years were okay and I just trundled along but I did find the course extremely boring. Third year was terrible. I was swamped with the workload and finding the coursework hard and STILL with the boring.

I felt sick, ill, stressed and depressed. I knew what I had to do. I managed to switch to another course and I made sure to finish up my study year. I knew that my parents would be disappointed but I know that they would rather have me doing something I would be happy in rather than make myself unwell over it.

Anyway to cut a long story short I am now studying law and I love it! I just wanted to let you know that you have to do what is best for you. I hope you get to switch majors if you choose to do so. Staying on and doing something that you don’t like just isn’t worth it, trust me! x

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66 Gaia3465 April 20, 2010

I’ve never had pressure from parents, but I definitely am miserable. I left college after 3 years of not knowing what I wanted my degree to be. Flirted with audio arts, and right when I switched it to journalism, I left school. I was going through an identity crisis.
I have moved all over because I want to constantly move. Now I am with my boyfriend in Ohio, working as a receptionist at a salon and spa. Love the people here, hate the job. I don’t quite know what I’d like to do. I love baking. I love health. I love photography. I love motorcycles. My dream job would be photojournalism. Or doing photo shoots for magazines. Anything that would be creative and demanding. I just don’t know how to get to what I want. Don’t know the steps I should take. I feel so lost.

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67 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Whenever I am lost about ANYTHING the first thing I do is google it. You may be surprised how much info is at your fingertips!

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68 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin April 20, 2010

I can definitely relate to Becky’s story!

I spent the past 3 years in an undergrad program for biomedical science and I hated it! About a month ago I realized that my true passion lies in health and nutrition, and so I made the switch to Nutritional Studies. I have to do an extra 2 years of undergrad, but it’s totally worth it because I know I’m on my right path now. :)

Good luck to Becky! I really hope you follow your heart and do what you want!

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69 Alicia April 20, 2010

I have to remind myself to look before I leap and not get ahead of myself.
I want to start my own business, but I know now that my day-job subsidizes my other interests. As long as I stay focused it won’t get in the way and it allows me the flexibility to pursue lots of different things.

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70 Jessica @ The Process of Healing April 20, 2010

My heart goes out to you Becky! I agree with Angela. I know it’s hard, I KNOW, to change the direction of your life, especially when you feel you will be letting others down. But I bet you if you have a heart to heart with your parents and tell them how you really feel, they will understand. They love you, after all! I was in school to be a teacher and I HATED it but I stayed because I thought it was the “right” thing to do. Bad decision. I ended up depressed, unhappy, moody, etc. until I woke up and realized that hey, life is too short to be unhappy!! I was afraid of what my parents would say but I went to them and explained it all and told them what I wanted to do, go to culinary school, and they supported me 100%! I quit school 1 semester before I was supposed to graduate to pursue culinary school. Some may think i’m crazy but I followed my heart, and that is what is important. Parents want the best for their children so they will push them to be all that they can be but they also love you and want you to be happy!

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71 Therese April 20, 2010

I didn’t have that sort of pressure thankfully as I grew up in a very blue collar family and was one of the few to actually go to school beyond high school!

But, I have to say Angela, THANK YOU for posting the link to your journey from hell and back. I’ve honestly done NO work this afternoon from reading it all. This year I went back to school to finish up my degree (ten years later) and was contemplating on getting my Masters afterwards. Recently, however, I have come to realize that a) I’m not prepared to commit my life to it, and b) I don’t think I actually need it. Reading your experience has confirmed that my time and money are best left to put towards things that will actually HELP my career and life in general. Like you, I’ve always wanted to help people but never knew exactly what it was, specifically, I wanted to do. But I’m starting to slowly figure that out and reading your posts today as cemented the fact that things are changing for the better in my life in regards to figuring that out. You and your story truly give me hope that I’m not crazy and that I CAN and WILL do this! Thanks!

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72 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

Thank you so much Therese. I am glad you enjoyed it. Good for you for making the first steps to creating happiness in your life!
I must say I did giggle when I read ‘your journey from hell and back.’ I guess it is true what they say ‘some day we will laugh about this’?? lol

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73 Laura April 20, 2010

I am going through Becky’s situation right now!! I finally broke free of the pressure my family put on me and while it has NOT been easy, it has been totally worth it because I am finally making decision that I want to make for myself!

I would love to exchange emails with Becky so please tell her to contact me if she would like and we can talk about it!

I love when you post about your story Angela. Since I am living in the middle of a similar situation, reading your story again and again gives me the strength and courage to keep pushing out of my miserable career and into the right career for me. I can’t wait until I am on the other side like you and can share with people my story!

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74 Liz April 20, 2010

Becky, I just read your story and my heart is breaking for you. I am an attorney who after 15 years, decided to no longer practice law. Law was never a good fit for me from the get go. I went to law school and did well. I had good jobs and received praise from my bosses. The thing is, I confused being good at what I do with being happy with what I do. My personality is so ill-suited to being an attorney that it is almost funny. I hate conflict and arguing with people, yet I have been a civil litigator for my whole career. I left my job over a year ago, without another one lined up. I have NEVER done that before, yet I do not regret the decision for a moment. I don’t know what I want to do next, but I do know that I no longer want to practice law. I’m certain of it. This is a decision I was not strong enough to make when I was younger, but I know myself a lot better now.

My advice to you is to talk to your parents. If you can not find the words, print out the letter you wrote to Angela (and all of the wonderful comments) and show it to them. I am a parent now. Although my oldest is only 4 years old, my hope is that, when the time comes, I will encourage my sons to do what makes them happy. I think, as parents, that is what most people want for their children. Perhaps your parents believe that the prestige and financial security that come along with being a doctor will lead to happiness – and in many cases it does, but not for everyone. All of the money and position in the world will not be able to fulfill you if you miserable inside.

I wish you the best.

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75 Amy April 20, 2010

Having been there, I definitely say live what you love! What’s that saying? “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive!” Or “Leap and the net will appear!” I think kids know what they came here to do (before society/family brainwashes them). I always *knew* that I would be a teacher, so I got straight A+’s, got told that I was “too smart to be a teacher,” ignored those comments, went to university, hated it with a passion, moved back home, studied via correspondence in a field that truly interested me but unfortunately would not allow me to become a teacher… and am now teaching my own workshops without having to follow some outdated curriculum! It didn’t happen half as easily as I just wrote it, but being unhappy every day of your life is infinitely more difficult than following your heart and learning to go with the flow! I think we all have a feeling of what we want to do, but you just have to be open to outside-the-box ideas and just do what you love, day by day… It’s a journey, not a destination! I haven’t read all the comments, but for Gaia3465 and anyone else feeling the same way, I have to recommend a couple books I’m actually reading right now: “Refuse to Choose” and “The Renaissance Soul.” I’m not even halfway finished either of them, but just picking it up at the bookstore and reading the cover changed my whole perception of myself. I would feel so trapped and suffocated if I had to choose only one career path! We have to listen to our feelings – if you’re miserable now, “toughing it out” isn’t going to help you! I get concerned looks and comments from people all the time because nothing about my life is “stable” or “steady” or “safe,” but when I was so unhappy in university, no one even seemed to notice. People being unhappy in their work is so common that it’s become completely normal… so much so that if you come home from work happy simply because you love what you do, people think that you’re not working hard enough! And yet if you go through the motions like a zombie everyday and come home drained and miserable, THAT’S contributing to society! Basically, right now, you’re not happy and it doesn’t sound like your parents are that happy either. If you decide to follow your heart, your parents might not be happy (although I’d be willing to bet that they won’t be quite as upset as you think… who knows, you might inspire them… in time!)… but YOU will be happy! You’ve got my support! *No one* has ever made great things happen by playing it safe.

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76 Angela (Oh She Glows) April 20, 2010

fabulous… “Leap and the net will appear!”

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77 Kelsey April 20, 2010

i think most people will be able to relate to Becky. sadly i know many of my friends who didnt stand up for themselves and choose the path they wanted. theyre stuck in a state of anxiety and grief over the path theyve chosen and continue to walk on.

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78 Lynda April 20, 2010

I’m in a job right now that I hate,hate,hate. I would love to go to college or take some courses in health & dietary but that is something that I can not afford to do.

I’m in my early 40’s and I have just discovered what I want to do with my life… and that is to find a job in health and fitness. It so far out of reach it makes me sad. But I’m going to try and find a way to make my dreams come true. Right now, I’m working on my blog and I love it. It’s a little glimmer of hope. :)

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79 Jenna April 20, 2010

Love this post and I can really relate. I wanted to be a college professor because I had a lot of pressure from my parents to choose a career they thought was worth my time. I eventually finished my Master’s Degree and taught for a couple years after my program ended but truthfully I was miserable. So I quit. Then, I got a job working for an amazing company but it just wasn’t where I saw myself in 5 years.

Life is really too short to do something you are not passionate about. Now here I am, making jewelry and blogging. I love every thing about my life. I may not be super “successful” yet in jewelry or blogging but I know that I am at least on a path that I chose, not anyone else and that feels just as good.

I always think of this quote when I think of my career change:
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” LP Jacks

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80 Lizzie April 20, 2010

i can relate to the person who sent the email 110%, I’m a BioMedical sciences major, its insanely stressful but my parents are pressuring me to stay at a school I really dislike to study for a field I don’t even know if I want to go into..everyone keeps telling me to stick it out, and because I’m about to finish up my sophomore year of college I feel like its to late to switch anyways..

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81 Julie @savvyeats April 20, 2010

Man, this was ME a year and a half ago. I was seriously unhappy in my Chemical Engineering degree, and was finally convinced by my now-fiance that I should change my major because I was so miserable. I switched to Food Engineering, which wasn’t a huge change, but worked for me. Now, I kind of wish I had gone all the way and switched to Food Science and just ditched the engineering part… I don’t plan on doing any engineering when I graduate next month!

I’m going to make it work for me, but I urge you (Becky) to go with your gut and make the change. You will be so much happier in the long run. Do you want to look back on your time in college as miserable?

Becky, please feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. I know how you feel!

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82 Eunice April 20, 2010

I had a similar experience, but it was related to religion, not school. I walked away at 20 years old, even though it meant sacrificing my relationship with my family and everyone I had grown up with. It was hard, but I never second-guessed myself. When you feel something in your gut, you have to listen. In the end, your parents are still going to love you. Do what makes you happy, Becky.

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83 Gloria April 20, 2010

I am there right now. My dad always want me to do something related to science or the healthcare field. I started my first year last fall, I picked life science mainly just for my parents. But I really hate it. Can’t do chem at all, tear up in class or when I am studying. I decided this is not going to work for me, why should I do something I hate and suck at? I am planning to switch to psychology and anthropology, not sure how am I going to tell my parents yet, too scared to.

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84 Staceyhttp://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ April 20, 2010

200 bars, wow. Pretty soon you might have to hire some more staff :)

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85 sarah April 20, 2010

I am still studying my arts degree, I guess I am sort of in Becky’s situation because I don’t really get science and stress is inevitable when we’re in uni. However, I only had strong parental pressure from my parents during my high school years and first year of uni because my parents believed that I was for sure going to get in medical school. Med school has always been my goal and will still be. Though I am doing my arts degree in psychology with spanish and german, my parents have given up on trying to talk me into doing hard science papers. At a point they even told me that I can do whatever it is that I am comfortable in doing, but I told them I still have passion for med school, I am just taking my time, so that I can learn other things besides science. The world doesn’t revolve around science, there are many things that can affect our health and I believe medicine is about socialisation as well.

I know how it’s like to not conform with the crowd and listen to your heart.

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86 Kait April 20, 2010

I’ve never been in Becky’s situation before, I have been very blessed to have super supportive parents. But right now I am finding myself in the situation where I’m less than a month from graduation, I don’t have a job, and I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve been applying for and interviewing for jobs, but until I’m actually at one working I don’t think I’ll know what is right for me. But after reading this post, I know now that if I’m unhappy with a career in the future I shouldn’t wait to find something that will fulfill my passions.

Thank you for posting this, it helps provide so much clarity and so much inspiration!

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87 Lia April 20, 2010

(First Comment!)

I actually had the opposite issue, I wanted something different then what my parents thought I should do. It took a lot of soul searching and some pretty hard choices to make me realize that I can been running away from a path that was perfect for me, just because everyone wanted me to do it.

I just got my Masters (Archival Science) and while I’m currently job searching in my field – I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made to follow in my Mother’s footsteps (same broad field, different focus)!

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88 Allison @ Food For Healing April 20, 2010

my parents are very supportive and have never pressured me into ANYTHING. I love them for that. they just let me follow my dreams, my mom made a suggestion awhile ago, saying I should get into Nutrition, and thats what i am doing currently!

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89 Lisa (bakebikeblog) April 20, 2010

I have felt pressure – and still do at times. I have, however, learned to make time for the things I enjoy…..fitness, photography, cooking and blogging :) It is now so a part of my daily routine that I am one happy girl!

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90 Kelly April 20, 2010

For me it wasn’t intense pressure from my parents, but I definitely had the general feeling that they thought I should pursue a business degree because that would leave me with a lot of options and help me make a lot of money.
I decided not to go down this road and to become a teacher instead. Once I got serious about what I wanted to do and showed I had a plan, my parents supported me 100 percent. Of course, there are always days I wish I would’ve listened to them haha…but really I know I wouldn’t have been happy going down a road that wasn’t my own.

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91 Mo April 20, 2010

Wow. That made me quite sad to read.

My wish for Becky (and others who have similar feelings of pressure from family) is that she find the courage to send her parents the same post that she sent to OSG. It would be very hard, I am sure. But I think that deep down they just want her to be the best, most happy person that she can be. But they are stuck in that mode that parents get into and get stuck on – having their kids live their dreams and not allowing them to pursue what THEY themselves want to do.

Maybe they just need to be told? Maybe once they read something like what she wrote they would feel sad that they have done this to her? Maybe they would tell her to do what makes her happy… God, I hope so. Especially when she already has a pretty defined passion – that is huge! I really hope that she gets to live the life that she wants.

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92 Sara G. April 20, 2010

Wow. I felt like I was reading about my own situation from the beginning of this year! I’m a senior in high school, and am headed to college in the fall. I can’t explain how many times I’ve heard go medical, major in a science from my family. They told me that it was a better work environment, and medicine and science in general was the only stable career. It doesn’t help that my sister is pre-dental either. It took a year to fully convince my parents that being a doctor was just not for me. Everyone has their own strengths and going through with a decision that will make you unhappy down the road is not worth it. Your parents do not have to wake up everyday to study subjects for a career that will make you miserable. Although my parents always wanted a doctor for a daughter, I know that they will get over it with time. I’m planning on majoring in international business and go to law school studying international law.
I couldn’t be happier :) because it was a decision I made–not my parents.

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93 Lauren April 20, 2010

Aww, thanks for sharing this story! I have also had some pressure on me to go into medicine, except unlike Becky, I REALLLYY want to, so it’s ok! However, my parents do have high expectations in everything I do, so that is difficult. I was a competitive dancer for 15 years and felt TONS of pressure from EVERYONE. I was SO unhappy and so sick all the time. When I think back, it was the worst time in my life. And I still feel pressure to go back into the dance world and visit people, but the pressure is too much. What I put myself through “preparing” to go. Restrict, restrict, restrict. I am still fighting the thin mindset that I had as a dancer. The pressure in that world is too much to handle. I am slllooowwwwlyyyy learning to do what I want, for ME!! We all need to stop letting others dictate how we live our lives. It is one of my main goals I am focusing on right now! STOP pleasing others, and just be happy with MYSELF!! :)

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94 Jacquie April 20, 2010

I luckily was never coerced by my family because I actually got better grades than they did. They supported me for whatever I wanted to do; however, my grandparents made more of a fuss about some degree paths that I tried. I’m finally happy what I’m doing, but I won’t lie, I’m scared about what’s next because I have no idea what to do now…

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95 Pauline April 20, 2010

Three years into college — wow, that’s a tough one! Unless you have a clear idea of a career path that you actually want and that requires a specific credential that you can obtain within the next year or two, I actually don’t think you should switch majors just for the sake of switching majors. Science majors are well-respected in the job market (what little there is!) for their analytical skills. Just remember that when you graduate, YOU can set your own career path and you don’t have to go into scientific work. And since you’ll be starting your 4th year soon, hopefully that means that you’ll be done with your major classes soon; take some classes in stuff you like!!

I, too, was pushed into a physics major and barely scraped by with a C average before I realized that it was a stupid idea at the end of my second year of school. I switched to something practical that I liked well enough, and I also didn’t let it hold me back from also pursuing my less “practical” interests.

Whatever you do, DON’T put yourself through the torture of the med school application process. It would be just the start of a LIFETIME of misery and uncertainty and low self-esteem. It’s just not worth it — even if your parents are legitimately concerned with your well-being, the last thing they want in their heart of hearts is for you to be miserable for your whole life. The only problem is, they don’t know how to teach you how to be true to yourself and be happy while adapting to the very real drudgeries of adult life — this is why they’ve pushed you with a focus on things they can be more certain about, like a stable and lucrative career in med school.

The most important thing for you is to make sure to show them that you understand their concern for your long-term well-being and work to ensure that you’ve got a handle on your financial well being. Life isn’t all poetry and art and rainbows for most people, unfortunately, but if you are truly passionate about it you’ll be able to keep working on your creative endeavors and hopefully one day be able to turn it into a career.

Good luck with whatever you do!

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96 Pauline April 20, 2010

PS, I totally meant medicine, not med school. Med school has the very real effect of making people feel extremely poor! Whoops.

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97 Jennifer April 20, 2010

I can completely relate as my mother would not let me major in what my heart was set on (psychology) so because I enjoyed business classes in high school I went on to get a BS and an MS in Business Administration. I am 37 years old and still regret not taking my life in the direction that I knew I would enjoy and feel good about. No amount of $$ from a salary can compensate for knowing that you’re not spending your life doing what you love to do. If I could do over, I would have followed my heart and had a successful career instead of hating one job after the other like I’ve done so far.

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98 s April 20, 2010

yep, i can relate. i was premed/chemical engineering in college until i finally decided to pursue my dream of studying cognitive science. my parents had no idea what that was, and as i had wanted to be a doctor since i was a kid, i had a lot of explaining to do. fast forward 7 years, and i’m now getting a graduate degree in a field i enjoy. it’s not as lucrative, i suppose, than being a doctor, but i like my life a lot better.

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99 s April 20, 2010

oh, and i switched majors my junior year, the first few weeks. the upperclassman-major-switch is possible; i’ve seen it happen, even if people sometimes have to stay an extra semester or year.

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100 Laura E April 20, 2010

I’m sorry this isn’t related to your post but I just wanted to tell you that I love the quotes you end your posts with! Even if I don’t have a lot of time to check out blogs I always make sure to come read yours and everytime I read the quotes it makes me smile! Keep up the good work :)

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101 Liz April 20, 2010

I had pressure like no other! Just like Becky did. I was pre-med in college (my dad is a doctor) and it was like the best thing that ever happened to him. Got straight A’s (studying about 6-7 hours A DAY, not kidding) and then took the entrance exam and got into medical school. My dad had never been more proud. I knew this was not what I wanted for my life though. I worried that I would go through life always feeling like the dumbest person in the room. Not long after I got accepted into med school my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Everything changed. He just wanted me to be happy, doing what I loved. So I turned down medical school. People still tell me I’m crazy all the time, but I am so happy I didn’t dedicate my life to something so I could please my father. He’s proud of me because of who I am, not what I do.

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102 Kristin April 20, 2010

My workmate uses that line all the time! “Well, what if I get hit by a bus and this is the last chance I have to do X?”. It cracks me up – whether it’s a mid-afternoon cookie or a mini-vacation or just going out with her husband, she’s always saying you only live once, so you might as well enjoy it. Or as she says: “you never know when the bus will show up!” :-)

-Kristin

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103 Susan April 21, 2010

Oooh, I just have to chime in and say I always felt pressure from my parents to move far away and be ridiculously smart and successful. They were all so proud of me when I went into journalism and had big dreams of me being the top reporter at the CBC or Globe and Mail (or some other uppity left-wing news organization).

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my mom about my recent decision to switch careers and move to the city. She was making recommendations of places I could work and live. I all of a sudden got really angry at her and told her to stop pressuring me. She was really taken aback. She had no idea I felt pressured by her to perform. She honestly thought that everything I did was because I had a drive to, not because I felt like I needed to. It finally all “clicked” in that moment. A lot of the family pressures I felt came from my own insecurities, and my family really just thought they were being supportive of my goals! I’ve since learned that I need to better communicate with them what my intentions are, and they’ll always be beside me whatever those are :)

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104 Keri@unlazykeri April 21, 2010

I agree that it’s not worth doing something if it’s not going to make you happy. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but once I got into vet school (not an easy feat!) I hated it immediately. I’m generally not an emotional person, and I would cry every day, several times a day. I only lasted a month. I ended up dropping out of vet school and getting a job (which I also didn’t like but I knew it wouldn’t be permanent). Now I am about to start a nursing program and I couldn’t be more excited or happier with my choice!

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105 Meg @ Be Fit Be Full April 21, 2010

While my parents never pressured me to puruse a certain degree, I have spent the last 9 years unhappy at different desk jobs. Just last Friday I finally gave my resignation and am finally going to pursue what makes me happy! Health/Fitness/Food!!! I hate saying that I “wasted” those nine years though so I just trying and think of all the things I learned and all the experiences that made me a stronger person.

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106 Sophie April 21, 2010

I can completely relate to how Becky feels. I am in the same situation. I hate what I am doing in university, but I know my parents would be really upset if I dropped out and went to culinary school. So instead I just go through the motions and I am completely miserable.

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107 Kaye April 23, 2010

I really feel for Becky! When I graduated from high school, my father had a good friend who told his 3 children, “I’ll only pay for your college if you major in engineering.” They all majored in engineering. My father thought that was a fabulous idea and told me the same. I hated engineering, I was good at math, but horrible with physics and anything past calculus. I was able to see the light soon and am now finishing my degree in Communications, which I LOVE. Defying my parents has given me a huge drive to succeed, I want to show them that I can be successful in something I LOVE. I don’t need another person to plan my life, no matter who they are.

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