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Career Path Decision - My Experience

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

So your parents only see two worthy career paths: doctor or engineer. But you want to be a psychologist? A social worker? An artist? Designer? A profession that your parents don’t see fit. If your parents support your career decisions, that great! Consider yourself lucky. For many other people, including myself, my career was predetermined. Growing up the only option I really remember having was being a doctor. It was as if my mind was conditioned to believe that that was the only profession that fit me best. More importantly, it was the only profession that I could think of having that gave me worth. You see, I genuinely believed that I was not good enough if I didn’t make my parents proud. If I became a doctor, my parents will love me, I thought. My mother attended and completed two years of medical school only to have been forced to drop out because her father didn’t want her to be in a mixed environment. This ruined my mother's dreams. As the eldest of five children, I was seen as the child to continue my mother’s dream. Whenever I would go to family gatherings, I was always told that I would be the great doctor that my mother couldn’t be. It was frustrating.


Long story short, I got accepted to medical school to a university that was out of the city of where my parents lived. How dare I leave my parent’s sight. So, the “family decision” was for me to decline. Instead, the closest profession in the city that was worthy in my parents’ eyes to being a doctor was being a biomedical engineer. I remember filling out the application form, feeling so empty and numb. I knew nothing about biomedical engineering, except that it was a cool job that designed cool gadgets for doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that profession. Its just its not for me. Psychology, on the other hand, was and always has been. I knew I wanted to study the human mind and behaviour since I was 13. (Thats another story I shall write about someday) When I expressed this desire to my parents, they said, “You can study whatever you want AFTER you complete your bachelors in something that is worthwhile, that will guarantee you a job afterwards”. I remember crying. It was impossible to change their mind. I wasn’t strong enough then to argue further. They stuck to that belief and made sure that I wouldn’t make a mistake. Must I remind you that to them psychology was useless. After all, I really wanted and needed their approval and love. I wanted them to be proud of me. That was my ultimate goal. But I deep down knew that I would be so unhappy.


So on the application form, I chose biomedical engineering as my 2nd choice and psychology as my 1st choice. I didn't tell them. I was hoping that I would try to convince them why they should allow and support me in my decision to being a psychologist, rather than an engineer. However, when the results came in, I was told that the psychology program had filled up its quota for the year and that biomedical engineering had a few more seats left. While my parents joyfully celebrated, I was devastated. This is it, I thought. I just have to accept it. And so, I spent the next year learning calculus, physics, chemistry, material science, doing calculations and writing hours of lab reports. It was one of the worst years of my life. I was depressed. Stressed. Anxious. Miserable. I hated every minute of the lectures. The only great part of that year was meeting people and administering a psychology test that I came up with on my classmates. It was my thing. Friends of friends would be directed to me to have this test done. That was my happy place. When I realized that, I knew that I would be wasting 3 more years of my life studying something that would do nothing to my personal growth and individuality. SO I decided to QUIT biomedical engineering. I had to tell my parents. How? I was terrified. I practiced and prepared my speech infront of my mirror. I recorded my voice. I was so nervous. I couldn’t imagine seeing their disappointment in person so I decided to call.


“Hello, Dad” I said.


“Yes?”


“So the international office is asking me to pay the tuition fee for the second year. But if its okay with you, I don’t want to continue in this program. Its really been affecting my mental health and I genuinely don’t think I’ll be a good biomedical engineer.”


Silence.


“Hello?” I said


Silence.


“I was thinking I would take a gap year, work and save money. I know you want me to be in this program, but I don’t feel comfortable letting you pay thousands of dollars for a degree that I am not happy with. I’ll work and save enough and I’ll pay for my own tuition and expenses when I have enough next year” I said. I thought that if I told him that he didn’t need to help me financially, he’ll be somewhat okay with my decision. I believed that I owed him this and on that note he said


“Okay”.


The stress of this conversation and the relief after the phone was sooo worth it. I was free, in a way, and it felt so good. The next years that followed were some of the toughest as I taught myself how to manage money, be self reliant and adaptive. I was expecting struggles coming my way but I was also excited for the new chapter.


What I didn't know then was that my father would disown me in two years after this phone call. This I was not ready for at all.


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