Pressure In College

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on April 20, 2010

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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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

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Pauline April 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

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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Pauline April 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

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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Jennifer April 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

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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s April 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm

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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s April 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

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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Laura E April 20, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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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Liz April 20, 2010 at 9:15 pm

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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Kristin April 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

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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Susan April 21, 2010 at 8:04 am

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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[email protected] April 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

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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Meg @ Be Fit Be Full April 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

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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Sophie April 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm

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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Kaye April 23, 2010 at 1:01 am

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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