Your parents have tried to influence your personal or professional life at least once in your lifetime. It happens to all of us, and it’s definitely not something to be ashamed of or angry about. Our parents rarely understand the issue of a changing market, where the demand for different skills outpaces those that were during their generation.
My story is very similar to everyone’s that grew up in a Post-Soviet nation, where the stability of your job was pretty much guaranteed, but the opportunities you had for growth were almost nonexistent.
Because of this, when I first entered the job market and starting hopping around different careers, my parents were furious, as they’d call every single one of my jobs a "dead-end," or not a “real job.”
They still refer to me as somebody who doesn’t have a profession, because I prefer to work remotely from my employers, in the comforts of my house, and that simply does not click with them in any way.
I loathed the idea of becoming a lawyer
In any Post-Soviet country, becoming a lawyer, an economist, a financial expert or a politician is the ultimate success that one can achieve. Why? Because it has longevity, and it won’t stop due to several outside problems.
That’s pretty much what my parents believed, and believe to this day. Why do they believe this? Because they decided to swim against the current in their childhood, and choose different professions like journalism and sales—different than what they went to university for.
They’ve changed around two dozen jobs ever since making that decision, and call it the worst experience of their lives. So, I understand where the desire for stability comes from.
Recognize your mistake and stop it right there
I’ll be using myself as an example a lot in this article, because I hope I can be a good case study.
When I was 18, my parents immediately pressured me into going to university for a Political Science degree, which seemed remotely interesting at the time. I didn’t question it too much, and agreed. I got into university, and within three months, I was already thinking of how to drop out.
The process that young people have to go to higher education facilities is just so demoralizing. It’s a very tight schedule, a very demanding environment for learning the best way you can, and finally, you're trying to remember heaps of information so you can pour it on a piece of paper at the end of the semester, and then forget about it for the rest of your life.
But, my case was a bit different, because I managed to get a job in a marketing agency while still being a sophomore: a rarity in the country that I come from. Within a single week of working in that company, I immediately understood that the university would never give me something I could use in the real world, even if I was studying marketing. Because of that, I dropped out and pursued a career in marketing at a slightly earlier age than others.
The moment I realized that I didn’t like what I was studying at university, I made the decision to stop right there. I didn’t think about those two years I had already dedicated to the studies; I was thinking about the coming two which I’d waste on it, and decided not to.
Needless to say, my parents almost cut ties with me, and told me I’d never be a successful person without a degree.
In order to prove them wrong, I decided to destroy the myth of startups failing too much, and created my own one, revolving around an application.
Proving somebody wrong is actually a great motivator
I had no idea why I was creating this weird application, but I knew that I absolutely had to make it work so that my parents acknowledged that I didn’t make a mistake.
I see this strategy in quite a lot of my friends, where they get accused of something that wasn’t their fault, and then go all out to prove their accusers wrong. In the process though, they make amazing products, provide great service, and overall, grow as a professional.
Unfortunately, though, my startup failed, and I was still unsuccessful in the eyes of my parents.
However, in 2018, most of the people I was studying with started to graduate and enter the job market. None of them chose employment in the field they were studying, and nor did they find great jobs, due to lack of experience.
Luckily for me though, I already had two years of experience, and could access those jobs easily. I seized the moment and let my parents see the reality, by telling them to ask their friends about their children’s employment.
It worked to calm them down a little bit, but I still fight a terrible battle with them nearly every week about going back to university.
What can you learn from my story?
My story is here to show you that wasting even more time on an unproductive thing, just because you’ve already wasted a lot of time on it, does not justify your decision. In fact, it’s one of the worst ones you can make.
I told my story so that you could see the absurdity of me trying to please my parents with my career success, rather than focus on what I truly wanted from a job.
It did help me grow as a professional in what I do, but the mental health that I spent during the process was unnecessary.
My advice would be to not focus on what other people think, even those closest to you.
The moment you find a job which you don’t loathe waking up for is the moment you achieve success, and only one percent achieve. And no, I’m not talking about the one percent that are now billionaires or millionaires. I’m talking about the one percent that goes to work with a smile, and comes back home with an even bigger one.
The jobs are out there for the grabbing. All you need is less peer pressure, and knowledge of what you want to do.