Do you still remember what you want to be when you grow up?
During my visit home last week, my mum told me about a conversation with her hairdresser who was worried about her child becoming a hairdresser. When asked why she was worried, her reply was the job has no career prospects it would mean a bleak future. Hearing this made me fumed with anger. I was brought up in a family and country where the system and people judge others for what their ambitions were as though a person’s fate is thus sealed by his/her choice of career and where success is measured, not by one’s happiness, passion or interest but by the amount of money earned. I resent against such a society and people who indirectly contribute to the discrimination by harbouring such attitude. It pains me to know that people still hold this belief today. Career-wise, I believe everyone should be free to be what they like to be without fear of being judged, ridiculed or discouraged.
To that worried hairdresser/parent, I’m sorry if your attitude towards your child’s career choice is a direct reflection of how you perceive yourself and I’m worried about your child for different reasons. I worry more about your child’s self-esteem and happiness than his/her career choice. I worry about the child finding out this is how his/her parent think of him/herself. I worry the child may not get the support and understanding he/she needs to pursue his/her career, without which, the path is certainly going to be tougher. If your child has an interest or talent in the skills of hairdressing, your support is of even more paramount and I worry that your child may feel discouraged for your lack of support, in which case, you are denying your child the opportunity to further his/her interest and potential. You may say I’m not qualified to say this as I’ve never been a human parent. While that is true but you were once a child too and you are somebody else’s child. Maybe you ended up in a career which was not of your choice because of a lack of parental guidance and you now feel obliged to guide your child to the ‘right’ way but it isn’t guidance if it doesn’t come with understanding and support. After all, isn’t understanding and support what we all crave, whether as a parent or child?
What do I want to be when I grow up? In hindsight, I would like to be a farmer or a park ranger. These jobs would have been perceived as rural and backward from where I came from and I would have been ridiculed, if not discouraged for saying that. How wrong they were. I believe that every trade has its master and what matters, if not, the only thing that matters is where your interest and passion lies (without being influenced by the opinion of others). As for the practical (economic) side of things, I believe the money (and prospects) will follow when one is engaged in their true passion. Some may disagree and that’s okay but I think it is a sin, if not an irresponsible behaviour, to discourage others from pursuing their interest simply because it might not sound practical or isn’t mainstream. I’m a living example of no good comes out of doing something which is forced or a result of external influence and pressure. A career choice is not and should not be meant to please anyone but the person’s interests.
“By another spring I may be a mail-carrier in Peru, or a South African planter, or a Siberian exile, or a Greenland whaler, or a settler on the Columbia River, or a Canton merchant, or a soldier in Florida, or a mackerel-fisher off Cape Sable, or a Robinson Crusoe in the Pacific, or a silent navigator of any sea…I can move away from public opinion, from government, from religion, from education, from society.” Henry Thoreau
Featured image from www.peanuts.com