Work, Career, Career Advice, Now + Beyond

I didn’t let desi standards convince me to give up on my liberal arts dream

To my parents, the words “I want to be a writer” meant the same as “I am setting myself up for failure.”

I’m a liberal arts major.

And coming from a desi family, pursuing a liberal arts career did not, initially, tide over well with my parents. It left me feeling hurt and lonely in my struggle to convince them to let me pursue my chosen career path, one that doesn’t make as much as money as the medical and technological jobs they originally wanted me to pursue.

I remember the day I told my parents that I didn’t want to be a doctor and that I wanted to be a writer instead. Things shifted, and not in a good way. To my parents, the words “I want to be a writer” meant the same as “I am setting myself up for failure.”

At that time, I was a junior in high school. I was born and raised in the United States, my parents having immigrated from Bangladesh before I was born. They went through struggles that I will never comprehend, both cultural and financial. And I know that they don’t want me to face what they went through. Just like many immigrant parents, my parents worked hard so that their children would have more opportunities.

They wanted me to be happy, and to them, me not pursuing a career in STEM sabotaged that.

In my culture, it is not uncommon for STEM studies to be valued and promoted while looking down upon liberal arts studies. And because of this, I actively try to avoid certain aunties and uncles (and their subsequent judgment!) whenever I am dragged along to Bengali gatherings.

Now I am in college and I am majoring in Religion and Culture. I’ve never been so happy and content with what I was doing in my life.

Everything finally makes sense.

I switched my major multiple times before arriving here. I started freshman year as a business information technology [BIT] major and even gave biology a chance despite absolutely despising AP Biology in high school. All this to prove to myself for sure that STEM majors were not where I would be able to maximize my potential.

I will only be able to grow best as a person, serve people better, and accomplish more in general if I follow my dreams and study something that I actually care about.

While there are still some disagreements between my parents and I, I am glad that I’m choosing a career path in which my success is measured by my happiness and not by how much I will be making. I’m still not 100% about what I’ll end up doing career-wise, but being a teacher or a professor are two jobs that I would find extremely rewarding.

My parents, while still not giving up on gently pushing me to add technological studies to my bachelor’s degree, are now very supportive of my decisions. They see how much I am accomplishing and my passion for my studies, and at the end of the day, they want me to be happy which wealth does not always guarantee.