Hi Greta, I really want to be a writer but my parents want me to be a doctor. What do I do?
Hi – thanks for writing in. It can feel really hard when other people seem to be making decisions for you.
I’m assuming that your parents are people who love you and want the best for you, and they’re acting out of concern for your life. In this case, their insistence on a particular career for you may be another way of saying ‘we want you to be secure in life’.
So, if you can demonstrate that you can be secure doing something else, then try taking them through that scenario. It often helps to have an alternative vision to give them, which shows you’ve thought things through.
I’m guessing you’re still living with them (I don’t know how old you are), so I’m going to assume you’re still under their roof.
The thing about living with parents is that their opinion is in your face 24/7. Their worries, their thoughts, their questions, their ideas, their ideals, their beliefs, their own successes and failures, and their relationship with their partner/spouse completely surrounds you.
As a result, drawing healthy boundaries – or even expressing your opinion – can be difficult. It can really feel like a major crisis when parents ‘draw the line’ and insist that you go a certain path. Actually, it isn’t the end of the world at all. Here’s why.
If you know yourself enough to know that you want to be a writer, you probably are a writer. Remember, writing is what makes writers. Being a writer doesn’t depend on what you call yourself to earn money – that’s just a label. Plenty of well-known authors worked two jobs or more until their writing could pay for itself. Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, was a physician and a writer.
So, even if you become anything else in life, it won’t change the fact that you’re a writer. In fact, there are so many careers that involve writing; you can use it in so many places and certainly continue to write as a doctor – so don’t lose heart.
Perhaps more important is to understand what you excel at and what fulfills you as a person. If you have no aptitude or inclination to become a doctor, there’s bugger all point going down that road because you won’t be happy and you may not even finish your training. In life we tend to stick at what we love or what we’re good at.
I don’t know how communication has been with your parents on this matter – it may have been difficult or painful.
It may help to drop the subject while you sort out your own feelings and try to put words to them and a plan in place. If you have access to a careers advisor or a counsellor, I’d encourage you to go and have a chat.
Oftentimes in life, people don’t know who they’re going to be until later on – regardless of what they train as. Sometimes you have to live a bit of life – or a lot of life – to find out what you really want from it. So it’s okay to feel confused, a bit lost, a bit sad or a bit angry. It will get easier to reconcile who you are with what you do – but it may take a little time to get there.
In the meantime, write for yourself and develop your voice as a writer. You can do this any time, with or without your parents’ permission.
© gvons 2015