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Doctor, lawyer or engineer: The first generation nightmare

By in Opinions

Still not sure what you want to do with your life? Are your parents pressuring you to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer? Do you want to pursue another field? Well, trust me, you are not alone.

This is a common occurrence in the lives of many students, but there is something acute about this experience for first-generation Canadians — also known as immigrants or children of immigrant parents. I am a first-generation Canadian myself, born in Canada after my parents immigrated from South Asia.

Many of us have heard of the stories of struggles within our families, and the adversity our parents or grandparents faced trying to make it in this country. These stories often serve as reminders — parables that teach us to work hard and choose a career with which we could support our families.

The toy stethoscope was a stepping stone for me. It was the beginning of being pushed towards a field of my parents’ liking rather than my own. Except as I grew older, I successfully dodged the parental expectations for becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer.

And you can too.

Here’s the thing — many immigrant parents sincerely believe that these three career paths are the best ways to find a future of stability in which you’ll be able to support yourself. And why shouldn’t they? We all know that these three fields can provide a good income.

The problem kicks in when you find yourself at odds with your parents because none of these career paths sound like the right fit for you. If you’re wanting to go into one of these fields and it fulfills your parents dreams at the same time, that’s awesome — but not everyone is in the same spot.

The sad reality of the immigrant narrative is that many of our parents had hopes and dreams for their lives and futures that just didn’t transpire. It’s unfortunate that this is a common theme, but we all know from those cliché coming-of-age movies that our parents’ dreams aren’t necessarily our dreams.

The nightmare that comes with being a first-generation kid is that there are often numerous barriers that make communication between you and your parents extremely difficult. I’ve essentially grown up in a whole different world than my parents which creates obstacles including language, culture, religion and so much more.

But you can wake up from this nightmare. You don’t have to be the vehicle for your parents’ dream to live on. You don’t have to spend years upon years of studying for a career you don’t want. You are truly able to do whatever.

The key is to get your parents to understand and that won’t be easy. Whatever life path you choose to pursue, your parents need to see that it is viable. Until you’re making a stable income and you can afford your own necessities, you might still be at odds with your parents.

So is it worth it? I can’t really answer that for you. Maybe you’re not sure what you want to be and you’re not totally against following your parents’ directions. You might end up loving the career that you stick with. The thing is, you don’t have to rush to figure it out.

I still have no idea what I want to do, but I know I don’t want to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer — no hate, y’all are all great, I just can’t do that personally.

I will definitely have some conflict and arguments with my parents because of this, but I would rather have that than spend the rest of my life unhappy in a career I don’t want.

Aqsa Hussain/ Layout Manager

Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor

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