Congratulations! You’ve discovered a career you’re in love with and can’t wait to share it with the whole world! But wait, did you forget your parents live in this world as well and they’re watching you from everywhere? From social media, through your webcam, from under your bed – yes, even under your bed. That monster you feared was lurking under your mattress as a child was never an actual monster; it was just your parents’ pending, incremental disappointment in your life choices. Which is honestly scarier than whatever the Boogeyman had planned. So play it safe, girl!
You never know who’s watching, especially your parents’ posse of alert aunties and uncles who will be quick to inform them of your sinister, non-medicine, non-engineering related extracurriculars before you can even say, “I never wanted to go to grad school anyway.”
We’ve all been there. While we regard our parents as our guiding lights, we know they have a tendency to become spotlights: projecting an eternal scrutiny over our every move while holding us in a bubble. But not to fear! Our parents want the best for us and will eventually come to terms with our life choices, but till then, here is a handy step-by-step guide on how to carry out your big reveal.
Step 1: Realize your love of ________ and immediately go through the five stages of grief.
So you want to make a career out of a non-medicine, non-business, non-engineering activity? Badmaash! When you came to this realization, your first reaction was to deny, deny, deny! Which was quickly followed by the other four stages of grief; anger (you can almost feel the chappal hitting your back); bargaining (deliberating how you can pass off your passion as a hobby like the way you passed off your high school boyfriend as your SAT tutor for two years); depression (on par of Raj and Simran’s when they couldn’t be together); and finally, acceptance (yes, you would skip out on Netflix to do this, which is more than you could say for anything else.)
Step 2: Pick up a hobby that hopefully distracts your parents from your passions.
Even though you’ve come to terms with what you want to do in your life, you’re not going to quite tell your parents how much you like doing ___ just yet. You’ve got to raise their expectations of you first! Especially, the traditional ones. Pick up a diversion hobby such as learning how to polish steel dishes, cooking a mean Dhokla, or racking up prospects on Shaadi.com. That way, mom is armed with an arsenal of praiseworthy topics to divert the next aunty who asks what you’re doing with your life. Careful not to charm her too much or she might ask if you’re interested in her son, because you are all about dreams over dulhans, baby.
Step 3: Debate whether you should tell your parents now or work really hard until they can’t ignore you.
Kanye always talks about starting from haters never believing in him ever succeeding to his tremendous success today. That could be you! OR you can keep your passion a secret until you’re the Kanye of your field. If and when that does happen, watch how your parents will brag to their friends about how you always had it in you (you didn’t) and how they always supported you (they didn’t).
Step 4: Fantasize about grudgingly getting a “respectable” job and then running away to your true love of doing ______.
Every brown girl knows this classic motif in Bollywood: a scene begins with a girl getting married against her will to a man of her parents’ choosing. Towards the end, she realizes she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life tied down to someone she barely knows and she runs out of the wedding into her true love’s arms, her dupatta fluttering behind her like wings. Except, in this scenario, Mama’s boy is actually your excruciating forced job and riding off into the sunset with your forbidden lover is your dream job. Get a couple of friend to stage your grand escape! A Spotify mix of music from Karan Johar’s films pair nicely with you gallantly sprinting out of your gray cubicle through the masses of disappointed relatives into the arms of your camera, ballet shoes, paintbrushes, whatever.
Step 5: Realizing none of these will be as consoling as the truth
By now, your wall is probably decked out in a vision board of avoiding confrontation, but the truth is no amount of playing hide-and-seek with your goals will be as gratifying as telling the truth. Some of us may receive an unanticipated amount of support while some of us will never garner quite the backing we may need. Parental pressure is not unique to immigrant children; what is unique is the burden of their immense sacrifice of breaking cultural and linguistic boundaries to provide us a better life. That’s why we can’t wait to spend our first paycheck on them, even if it means eating carrots for lunch for the rest of the week (slightly autobiographical.)
The problem with the road less traveled is it takes longer to get to a destination that both you and your parents are proud of. They’re scared of the journey, not where you’re going. Let them be the GPS and unlimited data to your journey for greatness.
Step 6: Make your parents as part of your process as possible!
Humans are creatures of habit, and the more “unconventional” your dreams are, the more your parents will hold back. Try to keep them as involved as possible! If your dream is to be a filmmaker, share your movies with them, no matter how small! A common reaction to creative professions are expecting you to have an expert level of skill right off the bat – despite parents hailing our shitty fingerpainting art for so many years. Keep their expectations realistic by trying and failing and monitoring your growth. After all, our parents just want happiness for us. In the end, the most they care about is you. Followed by shutting up all their Aunty friends.
There you go! Hopefully this guide helps you in ushering your parents into your truth as much as possible. We at BG hope all your dreams come true! Now, what to do with that white boyfriend of yours…
Nikita Redkar is a freelance writer in New York City who currently interns for Fusion Network where she writes about diversity in pop culture and how it’s shifting the current landscape of racial and gender politics. When she’s not writing, she is taking classes in sketch comedy and reading bizarre astronomy theories. She likes cute animal gifs and dislikes long walks on the beach, plagues, and other cliches.