How Your Happiness Is Contingent On You Making Decisions For Yourself

by Eric Ma

As a child, I remember my parents saying, "You can be anything you want to be when you grow up — but try to either be a doctor or lawyer."

While these career limitations were set early on in life for me, I knew in the back of my mind, I was never going to achieve them.

The thing is, parents tend to have this preconceived notion they can live vicariously through their children, which is not the case by any means.

Since I have immigrant parents, I knew all about the long, excruciating hours they put into the restaurant they owned.

In retrospect, I realized my parents did not want my sisters and I to deal with the copious amounts of stress that come with owning a restaurant. However, the other stress I encountered was the constant pressure of trying to achieve my parents’ career aspirations.

Luckily, my two older sisters had absolutely no interest in becoming a doctor or lawyer.

And, although my parents were saddened by the news, they ended up reaching a compromise with my sisters, so everyone would be happy. Both of my sisters decided to major in business while they were pursuing their undergrad degrees.

My parents accepted business as a viable career option because it was broad enough to do just about anything, and it had a high level of job security, which wouldn’t make my parents worry too much post-college.

When it was my time to apply for colleges, I knew my goals and dreams were going to be different from my parents' or sisters'.

The two things I was the most passionate about were my writing and eye for fashion.

For some odd reason, however, I decided to ignore my passions and selected business as my major as well. So, I applied to college with business as my intended major, and I got accepted to one of the top business programs in the nation.

Over the course of the next two years, I quickly discovered I did not love what I was studying in school at all.

Because I did not attend college for my own aspirations, I came to the realization I was chasing after something unobtainable: my parents’ aspirations.

As an individual, one of my mottos in life is never to regret the decisions you make.

For the very first time, I regretted my decision of not majoring in either journalism or fashion merchandising.

The day I decided to switch my major to something else was definitely a nerve-racking decision for me. Just the thought of having to inform my parents terrified me.

Needless to say, it was something that had to be done.

When I first told my parents my decision, they weren’t exactly ecstatic about the news. However, they eventually came around to the idea when they realized how much happier I was.

You see, the funny thing is, when one door closes, another one opens.

I was so worried about not graduating on schedule since I had so many business credits, but all was not lost. A lot of my general education credits did transfer over, which would allow me to graduate an entire semester earlier than expected.

In addition, I was able to acquire four internships this summer. Two of the internships have allowed me to develop my writing capabilities and identity as a writer. The other two incorporate both fashion and business together, which, honestly, is the best of both worlds for my situation.

None of these opportunities would have even been available had I stayed as a business management student.

To my parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up, thank you. I finally feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.