Have you ever felt compelled to either enrol in a particular university course, apply to a particular organisation, or perhaps even embark on a particular career path as a result of the pressure imposed upon you by your parents?
Be completely honest!
Personally I can recall exactly what it was like.
The parental pressure was too much for me. I eventually succumbed to it and I actually ended up spending three years doing a degree and I can honestly say I pretty much hated every single minute of it.
Fortunately since then my parents have realised that it’s probably better for me to make my own career related decisions.
They let me choose what other courses to study, what jobs to go for, what industries to work in, and even what business to start, even though I have embarked on a path totally unlike what they probably had in mind for me way back then.
Funnily enough they let my younger brother and sister choose their own university courses – quite possibly because they saw how much I had despised the course they had ‘suggested’ would be the best for me at the time.
Just another one of the joys of being the first born …
OK enough about me. Let me tell you a bit about Saxon – an Uber driver I met a few weeks ago who is also studying finance part-time here in San Francisco.
It didn’t take me too long at all to realise that he had been completely consumed by the pressure of studying to get a job in finance.
I always enjoy talking to Uber drivers, so when I chipped away at it a bit more, it became apparent that it was not only the pressure being imposed on him by his parents, but also by his parents’ friends.
No … you did read that correctly. Not his friends. His parents’ friends.
“They’ve all given me a complex that I have to work in finance“, Saxon said.
Along with the words “pressure” and “complex”, Saxon also made reference to the words “stigma” and “fear”.
Now the pressure of applying for your first job, or embarking on the first steps in your career is bad enough. Why should any 22 year old have the added pressure coming from so many external forces?
I am certainly not saying that parents shouldn’t give their input. But why should their friends stick their noses in it?
The poor guys was seriously troubled.
“I’m just not the corporate guy“, he said. “If I end up accepting a job in one of those big banks and had to put a suit and tie on every single day, I just know how much I’d hate it“.
Even in a 20 minute Uber ride (and without me having to ask much more), Saxon was able to articulate what he is passionate about, what is important to him, and even where he would like to work.
But the one thing I did explain to him is that his degree is not a waste of time, but it certainly doesn’t mean he will have to become an accountant or an investment banker.
“My greatest fear is being pigeon holed into something I hate“.
Fortunately Saxon and I both know that now this is not going to be the case at all.
Before I got out of the car, we made a plan. He’s going to follow up on a number of my suggestions and most important of all is that I know he is going to be happy.
As for his parents’ friends? Who cares!