Stop giving a damn about what others think. Stop giving a damn about how many extra bucks you will or won’t make. Stop giving a damn about pleasing others through your career. Just stop it, like yesterday.
What the hell am I talking about, you may be wondering?
Well, let me start off with a little story.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Samantha (yes, me, Samantha) who would grow up hearing that she was going to be a doctor, and that being a doctor was the best thing to do, because they made so much money! Little Samantha accepted this up to high school, where she was Big Samantha now, and ending up making a fool out of herself trying to follow her “fake dreams,” or dreams that weren’t hers because she decided not to look into or follow her heart.
“So, you want to be a doctor?” My ninth grade self sat across the dean of a private high school I was touring.
“Yes! I want to be a neurosurgeon so that I could help people. I went to Bangladesh when I was 10 and saw how poor they were,” I answered, not bothering to acknowledge the unease of the dishonesty of my statements that my subconscious tried to push towards me.
“And your favorite book is 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey?”
“Yes,” I said, the stench of lies dripping from my character as I fumbled to explain how this book that I barely had even read had helped me.
How. Fake. Was. I.
Ohhh. Myyyy. Goooood. Nessss.
I cringe. A lot.
At the time being, being the naive girl I was, I thought that the meeting went pretty well. But now, I wonder how much of fakeness I was stinking during those few minutes in the dean’s office. Cringe. Cringe, cringe, cringe.
Anyway, fast forward two years later, when I was an eleventh grader. I didn’t want to be a doctor, I realized.
I was never chasing after a dream I wanted. Heck, being a doctor was never my dream. Me being a doctor was my parents’ dream.
To give a little background, my parents immigrated from Bangladesh before I was born, and they had to go through struggles that I, alhamdulillah, never had to experience. And alhamdulillah, my family and I are so well off now that the struggles my parents describe to me seem as if they are of a different world. And it’s because my parents knew the pain of the financial struggles they suffered through their first ten-ish years here in America that makes them to even more not want for their daughters to experience the same struggles, or worse.
So given that background, I can sympathize with why my parents pushed so hard from the beginning for me to be a great student and to attain the prestigious title of a doctor. They wanted me to be free of their struggles. They wanted me to be an independent woman, to be wealthy enough to support myself and others, to be able to afford the luxuries they could afford–they wanted me to be happy. What they didn’t know at first was that their definition of happy did not meet my definition of happy.
Personally, and not that there’s anything wrong if anyone else does otherwise, I don’t primarily use wealth to measure how successful a person is, career-wise. There are more things I measure success in careers by: how happy a person is, how they are able to support themselves and how they are contributing to society. Money may influence one or multiple of these factors, but it is not the main standard of measurement. For instance, I know that I need a certain amount of money to be able to survive in terms of being able to afford food and a house or apartment, etc. Considering that, let’s say I have two options for a job: being a teacher or being some businesswoman who earns big bucks, enough to afford a Porsche or two alongside a mansion and hundreds of Prada purses among several other things. And let’s say I would choose being a teacher because that’s what would make me happiest.
Sure, the salary wouldn’t enable me to as many so-called luxuries as being that businesswoman would, but I would be happier. Much, much happier.
The luxuries I would have–the luxuries of seeing my student’s faces light up as they understood something I helped them understand, the luxuries of seeing the lit faces of my students as they would walk into class in the mornings, the gift of being able to pass on the light of knowledge–are things that would be more valuable to me, reward-rise, than a considerable excess amount of money residing in my bank account. Whatever job I would do, I would have to work hard in anyway, and it’s important that you enjoy what you are working hard in. While I would enjoy teaching and welcome the challenges of giving those students who needed it extra help and keeping young children under control, I wouldn’t enjoy the challenges and work that I would have to do as a businesswoman.
And there are people who would choose being a businessman or businesswoman because they enjoy the tasks they would be assigned with doing, and would enjoy the monetary rewards. They would enjoy creating and developing— just making cool things and seeing others use their awesome creations in their own lives. Perhaps, they would indulge in philanthropy given the financial flexibility. And their wishes and reasons would be just as valid my wishes and reasons would be.
Either way, just remember that at the end of the day, it’s you who’s going to be living your life, it’s you who’s going to be working in whatever career path you choose. Don’t choose a lifestyle because others tell you it’s the best option; they aren’t wrong, but they aren’t right either–they may be right when regarding themselves and how they may like to live, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are right about you and how you would like to live.
You really, really have to look into your heart to see what you enjoy doing. Even then if you are unsure, there are career aptitude tests that can help you learn more about yourself. I knew that I was always into art, whether in the form of writing or visuals. I didn’t realize how many career options I had the chance to explore until I recently got some career advising from my college. Alhamdulillah, there are so many options where I can link my interests and hobbies.
So do what you want to do, and do it for you.