The Dangers of Allowing Family to Pressure Young Women into Taking a Specific Career Path

As a young woman navigating her way through the early stages of her professional development, I have had my fair share of emotionally anxious calls to my mother (or anyone willing to listen to me rant) about the intimidatingly endless possibilities that my future will spawn from.

In my mother’s eyes, the day she cradled me as I formulated my first sentence full of gibberish she just knew that I was destined to be an attorney. Just a few months old and the plan was in full effect. I imagine in that moment she caressed my face and whispered: “Aw, your first opening statement.” Needless to say, my destiny was pre-written.

Although I’ve grown substantially since that period of time, the decision to take that path still weighs heavily on me. However, I’m beginning to come to terms with the idea that it is up to me to rise above family pressure and live the life that I want.

There’s no going around the fact that family is extremely important to me. Going beyond my immediate relatives, I have a support group whose unconditional love and constant guidance keeps me focused. Let’s face it. Whether we like it or not, we often look towards our family for reassurance and perhaps approval. However, it is self-destructive to allow the constant overly enthused (partially nagging) “career suggestions” from any source to overshadow your personal aspirations.

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Live the life you want.

Often times we forget that life is short. You are under no obligation to please your family, if it is at the expense of your own happiness. Imagine waking up every single day and going through the motions at a job that you have no passion for. Not only will it most likely reflect in your work, but it will also affect your sense of self-realization. There is not one pathway to success. It is okay to take the road less traveled as you journey towards your goals. Ultimately, you have one life to live. No matter how much your family may insist, your career decisions belong to no one but you.

Stop and think. What fulfills you?

Listen to your inner voice. Take some time out of your day to truly consider your passions. What are the things that you find yourself gravitating toward during your down time? Is there something that you constantly find yourself talking about when asked about your interests? Or perhaps you have a secret talent that people may not know about? In this case, it is okay to start small. You may begin with a simple concept (i.e making a difference), and expand by digging deep within yourself and (as elementary as it may seem) consider the five W's. Writing out your interests, where you aspire to be professionally, and the avenues you can take to get there can provoke deeper thoughts and hopefully provide clarity in creating an achievable goal. 

Weigh your options.

I am a strong believer that the accumulated pressure some young adults feel to pursue a career that has followed them since birth can make that choice sound that much more agonizing. Don’t be a victim of that line of thinking. Although you should not take on something that you are completely disinterested in, consider how you truly feel about the choice. Not how your parents, neighbors, friends or long time associates feel- how you feel. Sometimes your family sees something in you that you may be overlooking. Family members have your best interest at heart, consider their advice and do what you feel is right for you.

Don’t let it be solely about the money.

Sometimes, it’s not all about the Benjamins. If you are passionate about what you do, you will enjoy discovering new ways to elevate you and your craft. Naturally, the energy that you continue to invest in your skills will reflect in your payback. We live in an advancing, inherently different, world than when our parents may have grown up. Don’t allow anyone to criticize your desire to be an amazing make-up artist or a star chef because being a brain surgeon or engineer sounds better on paper.

Let go of the stress. Hold on to your faith.

Everything will work out. Don't let the pressure of the future that hasn't even happened yet diminish your health (physically and mentally) in the present. For me, faith has acted as one of the grounding forces in tackling and overcoming obstacles that are seemingly daunting. Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, understand that no one can take away what is meant for you . When it comes to accomplishing your dreams, the bravest thing you can do is never give up.