I vividly remember sitting at a wedding next to an old friend of my parents, whom I hadn’t seen in several years. I was enjoying the event – until she began asking me the typical questions college students are used to answering: where I was going to school and what I was studying.
When I told her I was studying journalism, she looked both confused and disgusted. She then proceeded to ask why I didn’t want to follow into my father’s footsteps by becoming a doctor. Who, she asked, would even hire me?
[bctt tweet=”When I told her I was studying journalism, she looked both confused and disgusted.” username=”wearethetempest”]
From a young age, it’s ingrained into the minds of Arab and Desi children that the best thing we can become in life is a doctor. You either work hard to become a doctor and live successfully, or choose a non-STEM career path and become a failure struggling to make ends meet.
Muslim parents are so caught up in the ideal of medicine and the prestige of being called “Doctor” that they are losing sight of the fact the Muslim community is in desperate need of Muslim lawyers, politicians, journalists, social workers, and more.
It is problematic when students who decide to pursue a career in communications, humanities, or social sciences are put down and criticized by their own parents or other people in their community. Fortunately, this was not the case for me, but it’s unacceptable to pressure students into pursuing careers in fields they are not interested in because of what is perceived to be prestigious and respectable.
The 2016 election has shown that we really need Muslim representation in politics and in society now more than ever – not just in Congress and at the national level, but also at the state and local levels. How else can we expect our voices to be heard and our rights protected? How can we complain about being misrepresented and stereotyped in the media if aspiring Muslim journalists are being discouraged from entering the field? Muslim journalists can play a vital role in preventing anti-Muslim rhetoric from becoming the norm in Western mass media. Muslim students should be supported and encouraged to enter these challenging fields, rather than reprimanded.
And why force your child to study medicine if their heart isn’t in it?
The medical field is stressful, demanding, and mentally exhausting. Not everybody is cut out to study organic chemistry or work 24 hour long shifts at hospitals. If students are motivated by the wrong reasons early on, they can end up wasting time, money, and credits studying what they come to find is far from what they want to spend the rest of their life doing.
[bctt tweet=”Why force your child to study medicine if their heart isn’t in it?” username=”wearethetempest”]
There are Muslim kids who are passionate about the arts and politics and writing, and they should not be scolded because of that. Parents should be supportive of their children’s unique passions and talents.
[bctt tweet=”Muslim parents should be supportive of their children’s unique passions and talents.” username=”wearethetempest”]
So to the auntie at the wedding who asked why I would ever want to become a journalist: it’s because I am passionate about writing and sharing other people’s stories. I believe that in America, we need more Muslim reporters and news anchors. Through hard work, dedication, and faith, I believe that I can be the change I want to see in the media.
I don’t have to become a doctor to be successful. I’m not here to please you or the community’s absurd expectations. I’m here to make a difference doing what I love.