I was born and raised in New York City. As a South Asian, specifically North Indian, I come from a family in which respect, morality, humbleness, education, and religion are given priority. I was taught that education is the most important thing for an individual in order for them to live a good life. As a child, I was told that I should consider becoming a doctor because “it is a respected job, that doctors make a lot of money, and they live a good life”. I always thought that Indian people only respected you if you were a doctor and nothing else. That bothered me a lot and so, I decided to pursue becoming a doctor. I realized through my first year of college that becoming a doctor is a long and hard road, difficult for a stress manic like me. It feels too common a profession because we have so many doctors in the family. I had always wanted to pursue a career in which I can teach, act, or dance. I wanted to be different. I just couldn’t find the heart to do so because I was lead to believe only a profession in the medical field would lead to stability.
As of now I’m battling with this insecurity of wanting to be something other than a doctor. Knowing that you have three aunts who are in the medical field and other intelligent successful relatives puts more pressure on me. I’m tired of feeling that I am inferior. I think I already know what my relatives think of me in terms of smartness and education: “she’s ok”. Whenever I didnt do so well, my parents would talk about how hard my aunts studied. The thing is I am not them and they are not me. I am good at different things, like history and dance. If I could do anything, I would consider being an actress or a dancer. I love to perform, act, sing, and dance. Everyone says I am really good at it but making a career out of it? I don’t know. I really wish I was more intelligent like my aunts, but I know I’m a hard worker. I just hope that it will take me somewhere great in life, because they always say when you work hard, you will succeed.
As I get older, I believe my parents would support me in whatever I would want to pursue. However, they continue to urge my brother, hoping that he would become a doctor, an engineer, or something in the medical field. The only thing that gets to me is that sometimes I wish I was like those kids who have the motivation and determination to become a doctor, because that would make me feel better about myself. I put pressure on myself because I know it would mean the world to my parents. The question is ‘would that make me happy?’ I don’t know.
I’m in a dilemma. I don’t know exactly what I’m heading for in terms of a career. I no longer want to become a doctor now because I am tired and fed up of hearing about every desi wanting to be doctor or every Indian parent saying how the medical field is the best field. I have some idea of what I want to do. I’m now considering being a pediatric nurse. I want to work with premature babies, young toddlers, or children who are battling with cancer and other certain diseases. I will be successful once I know that I’m happy with what I am doing.
Its hard to not compare yourself. You go to junior high, they put you in the Alpha, SP, or regular class. In high school, they put you into honors and non honors classes. In college, your exam grades determine whether you are above, below, or on average. At every moment, you are comparing yourself. Nothing seems to be about learning these days. It’s all about getting good grades, a better degree, a better job, earning more money, and settling down.
Balancing both worlds, meaning Indian vs. American culture, can be confusing. The only advice I can give as of now is to do whatever makes you feel happy, no matter what people have to say. They aren’t living your life; they haven’t stepped into your shoes. Life isn’t about impressing other people in the Indian society, including your family. Its about taking it slow, learning life lessons, exploring new things, and meeting new people. I learned that it’s my life to live, and my life to enjoy, not anyone else’s.