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Huge pressure from parents and feeling totally confused - what to do?

(98 Posts)
CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkey Wed 20-Sep-17 17:15:05

I'm a first-time poster, so sorry if this isn't the best place for this sort of post - I wasn't sure where to put it.

This might sound crazy, but I didn't feel like I could talk about this with anyone in real life, so hope you don't mind me asking you all for some help.

I just feel so much pressure from my family to decide on what I should be doing for the rest of my life and I haven't got a clue sad

I come from a fairly big family, with loads of cousins and siblings, and everyone just seems to be doing so well (Dad in a fairly high-up position in finance, Mum is a dentist, and all my siblings and cousins are in things like law, finance and medicine - either studying or have already been working for a few years).

I'm the second-youngest of five, so saw three of my siblings get great results at school, go off to uni to do amazing degrees and then go into great jobs. They all worked so hard to get to where they are now, and they've done so well.

I also went to uni, but felt really pressured by my parents and school into making certain decisions. I liked the look of a Languages university course in Cardiff, but my Dad suggested that I apply to Oxford. I ended up getting in and have now finished my degree, graduating last summer. I liked the degree and some bits of living there and the whole experience, but the pressure that I felt during the course just reminded me of the pressure that I had growing up.

Education is sooo important to my parents, and it is really important to me too, but now that I've finished my degree, I just don't really know what to do with my life. I feel so tired and exhausted.

Since finishing last year, I've been doing stuff like giving music lessons for local kids where I live and have a part-time job in a restaurant while I figure out what to do with my life.

I think my parents find it really embarrassing that I'm aimless and not doing anything specific with my life. They keep on saying I should try and do a law/finance grad scheme when they ask what I'll do with my life, but it's so hard to talk to them and my siblings as they're always so busy and I don't want to disturb them. I feel a bit like the family embarrassment blush

I do want to be successful and to go into something where I can earn a good salary and progress, if that doesn't sound too money-grabbing. But I've looked at what my parents and siblings did, and honestly none of it appeals. My parents are a bit like Tiger-parents blush and I really don't want to disappoint them, but I also think I have a right to enjoy my life and be happy with the job I do. Just stuck on what I can do.

AtrociousCircumstance Wed 20-Sep-17 17:20:04

Firstly, a huge congratulations on getting into Oxford and getting your degree.

Secondly I think you are doing exactly the right thing. You need this time to decide for yourself what you want to do. You don't have to conform or fit in to how your family thinks you should proceed. If you choose something for them - to get them off your back - there's a chance it won't be the right career for you.

I think the fact that you are resisting just doing what you know your parents want shows independence of spirit and a strong mind. You are working, you are engaged, you are taking your time.

Don't be rushed. You are on the right track - and once you work out what you want to do, it will be YOURS.


Loopytiles Wed 20-Sep-17 17:24:01

Are you living at home? That will make it harder to be independent. If you're serious about wanting to earn OK money and be an independent adult then you'll need to investigate your options, which will be many.

You can't go back and change your choices, but you choose what you do now. What your family think, or do for a job or earn, is by the by.

There is lots of careers advice out there you could access.

Loopytiles Wed 20-Sep-17 17:26:33

I felt similarly after my degree and never fancied doing most jobs, but I wanted / needed to earn money so had to pick something that seemed better than other options and give it a go by applying for things.

You might get lucky and find something well paid that you really like - my DH did. Most people don't though IME, sadly. Good research and careers advice might help.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Wed 20-Sep-17 17:27:49

I would consider going abroad, somewhere with terrible communications (so your parents can't nag you from a distance)
And just do your thing, call it a year out, whatever.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 20-Sep-17 17:29:07

Do you have any savings?
If so can you go on some kind of gap year (5000 miles away from parental influence) so you can get some space to sort out your priorities?

NapQueen Wed 20-Sep-17 17:30:19

Do you have any money?
If so - travel! Get yourself onto a group travel, get yourself as many miles away from the family pressure. Take a year away.

geekone Wed 20-Sep-17 17:30:28

You are young don't worry about it too much. My advice would be get a couple of jobs build up some funds and go see the world while you can. Volunteer with kids abroad do kids camps and work with underprivileged kids get a job at a ski centre and enjoy a couple of months in the cold. Then start looking at options there are lots but you might find yourself invigorated after seeing the world. Good luck flowers

NapQueen Wed 20-Sep-17 17:30:39


OneFliesOver Wed 20-Sep-17 17:33:31

You're doing all the right things. We had the best careers advisor at school, who kept telling us that we should never get hung up on prestige or money but rather think about what we loved to do. People who do jobs they hate rarely make it to the top (and have shit working lives). People with a flair for something and who persevere get far. The top chefs make more money than the worst lawyers.

Think about what interests you and follow that. Definitely do not do something because it's "prestigious". I have lots of friends who dropped out of "prestigious" jobs after 5-10 years, when they realised that they had only one life and would have to do their jobs for most days of it.

greyfriarskitty Wed 20-Sep-17 17:42:23

I had a friend at Uni in the same situation, except her parents pressured her as far as a PhD. When that finished, she had literally no idea what to do, because she'd never done anything she wanted to do for herself. So I agree with previous posters - go and try lots of things, follow your instincts, see what you like and the hell with what they think. (Oh and she worked in a restaurant for ages after her doctorate, and was very good at it too).

I went to Cambridge and over half of my friends changed their careers after a few years - people dropped out of management tracks and became teachers, gave up being accountants for being a ski instructor, stopped being a journalist and became an academic.

I'm not in a particularly prestigious job either, and often haven't been, but I take that as a sign of my intelligence, that I'm able to make different choices. grin. Try that argument on them...

guilty100 Wed 20-Sep-17 17:43:12

Gosh, this sounds so suffocating.

I suggest you do what you want to do. But figuring out what you want may be quite difficult, because right now your world is full of the noise of others' expectations, to the point you can't hear your own voice.

Why not do something totally different - like going abroad and teaching a language for a bit. I know so many young people who have done this and they've all had a fantastic time. I think it would help you to get far, far away from your family and to take your own time to figure out what you want.

Think of it this way - if you go into a grad scheme now and your heart isn't in it, that's a bigger waste of time and money than just sitting back for a bit, earning some money doing something low key, and enjoying life while you figure out your next move. (And there doesn't have to be a next move if you don't want there to be).

Happiness is far more important than success. Chase your happy and you might well find out it ends up being your success (and I think everyone is jealous of those people who have a job that is also their passion, it's pretty much winning at life).

senua Wed 20-Sep-17 17:46:22

I feel a bit like the family embarrassment

Eh? You went to Oxford but feel an embarrassment?

Tell them that Oxford (Dad's choice, remember) has opened your eyes to the world's possibilities and you are having a Gap Year whilst you decide your direction.
I agree with going away - ski school or a summer job in the antipodes. Get yourself away from family.

carefreeeee Wed 20-Sep-17 17:49:25

I know what you mean about the pressure of family achievements even though to an outsider you would appear to have done extremely well so far.

I think you need to allocate yourself some thinking time - say a year - and get away from your parents. Tell them you are going to have a year out and will get back on the career ladder afterwards. Take on some low paid work in another part of the world and have some fun, meet some people who aren't high fliers. eg. you could do holiday type work in a ski or summer resort, or au pair work or american summer camps - anything that will cover living costs. After a complete break you might feel less pressured and ready to take on a new challenge

Sometimes parents need to be reminded that the most important thing in life is to be happy and to be a nice person.

TinselTwins Wed 20-Sep-17 17:50:05

1. Make yourself independent of them for finance & housing of you haven't already
2. Care less! You can live them and also not invest yourself in having their approval! This is much easier if you stick strictly to point 1.
3. Don't try to convince them to change their outlook, you'll fail and it'll just keep the conversation going for longer. Just shrug and say "maybe you're right" then change the subject and just carry on doing what you want.

TinselTwins Wed 20-Sep-17 17:51:06

"You can LOVE them" not "live" them

hidinginthenightgarden Wed 20-Sep-17 18:00:18

My parents were like this and the more they pushed the more I lost interest. Luckily I always knew what I wanted to do so that wasn't a problem, but I felt like a disappointment so much of the time.

Ttbb Wed 20-Sep-17 18:01:49

You are right not to rush into things. But you are an adult. You need to be able feel like you can do whatever you want with your life-your parents are probably just worried because they are picking up on how dependant you still seem on their opinions/a failure to actually DO anything. You need sone time to think yes. But thinking alone isn't going to achieve anything. You say you don't know what you want to do so find out. Apply for internships and vac schemes, volunteer, spend more time discussing career options with your family members (they all seem to have quite carried away experience so it would be helpful to hear what they think of their chosen career paths).

Raisinsaretoddlercrack Wed 20-Sep-17 18:01:59

I completely understand how you feel. I come from a family where education and a prestigious career is considered very important. I also went to a grammar school which was proud of the high numbers of pupils going on to do very academic subjects at university. I felt pressured to do a very academic degree that I hated and didn't end up finishing it. My choice of psychology, social science or geography wasn't considered academic enough and I was persuaded to do law. I will always regret bowing to the pressure.

I ended up travelling a lot, partying a lot and building up some varied experience temping. I now have a family and a very rewarding job that I love. I doubt i will ever be a top earner but I feel like I am doing something that makes a difference so I am happy. I still feel like a disappointment to my family but it's better than making decisions for the wrong reasons and regretting your life. Focus your energy on pleasing yourself and not your family.

AlphaStation Wed 20-Sep-17 18:16:27

Congratulations to your degree. flowers Now that you've fulfilled your degree, you've fulfilled a challeging project that has taken its toll, and it's no wonder you're feeling a bit disoriented and tired. If you've noticed sports stars, when they've won some challenging marathon or ski race, often throw themselves onto the ground from pure exhaustion. Finishing a degree might be a bit similar to that, in certain respects, you don't just rush on to the next and next challenge, like a machine. If your parents are embarrassed its more a problem they have, than you, in my opinion. I think it's wise to take a break, one year is nothing compared to the length of a lifetime, which my well stretch into eighty or ninety years. I'm not sure what degree you graduated in, if it was languages or something else, but if it was languages it isn't necessarily crystal clear that the next step must necessarily be in finance or law, in my opinion. If you do what you love, you'll become successful - or at least successful enough - and good parents will love you for doing something you love, and doing it well. The user Atrocious said it well: "Don't be rushed. You are on the right track - and once you work out what you want to do, it will be YOURS." Flies' point is also valid: "I have lots of friends who dropped out of "prestigious" jobs after 5-10 years, when they realised that they had only one life and would have to do their jobs for most days of it." Or like senua said: "Tell them that Oxford (Dad's choice, remember) has opened your eyes to the world's possibilities and you are having a Gap Year whilst you decide your direction." The world is full of opportunities, especially for you. I suggest you read a lot, books that is, on varied topics. Read philosophy. Read about mathematics and medicine. Read about hiking. Read about environmental change and the challenge with all that. Read and do music, or art. Read only with enthusiasm, pick topics that interest you. Reading is a lost art. That way you might discover what you really enjoy. Most importantly, don't compare yourself and your progress with that of other people since life isn't really a competition where the one with the biggest pile of money on his deathbed is the winner. If you start by reading Nassim Taleb's book Fooled by Randomness, you'll see why it might be important. (He is also on YouTube btw.)

underneaththeash Wed 20-Sep-17 18:24:28

Do you like children? Who about using your languages and au pairing for a bit in another country. Our au pairs tend to be graduates who are deciding what they would like to do whilst earning a bit of money, meeting new people and travelling.
It's something that I wished I could have done myself.

HighwayDragon1 Wed 20-Sep-17 18:29:31

Go abroad, travel, be a nomad, have amazing experiences, do everything and go everywhere, get life experience and be interesting.

Then decide what you want to do.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Wed 20-Sep-17 18:42:38

Work with animals, the bigger the better. Being kicked and shat on by something that's ultimately your employer is good for the soul. I had a bad patch at school, bullied, constantly nagged about my achievements etc. Helping with the milking got my head straight.

missymayhemsmum Wed 20-Sep-17 18:54:37

A lot of people need a year or two to 'decompress' after uni, I think, especially Oxbridge. Try lots of things. Sign up with an agency and try out lots of different workplaces. Travel. Work abroad. Volunteer. Work out who you are, what your values are, and what are your unique talents and what your mission in life is.

If there is pressure from your family, then tell them that you intend to spend the next two years broadening your horizons and gaining a variety of experience while choosing a future career. After all, any further study is going to cost a lot of money, you need to be sure it is right for you.

CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkey Wed 20-Sep-17 20:58:13

Wow - thanks so much for your advice. Just reading through all of your replies now. It's so sad to read about people on this thread who've been in a similar situation or who've also felt like they're under a lot of pressure from family, friends or others. I'll read through all of your replies, and promise I'll get back to you all. Thank you all sooo much.

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