Your Parents Vs. Your Dreams


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Read this article in other languages: Español, Italiano

As this blog continues to grow steadily, I find myself getting more and more emails from readers (which is great by the way, keep them coming). I’ve noticed that one topic comes up over and over again.

Parents.

Seems there are a lot of us out there who have big dreams, who want to do something meaningful with our lives, away from the safe and forgettable… but we’re worried about what our parents will think.

We’re worried about abandoning them. We’re worried about disappointing them. We’re worried that, if we are to trust our guts and follow our hearts, that we may end up being disowned by the very people we owe our lives to.

What to do?

I’m lucky

I’ll state right up front that I’m not the best person to address this issue, since methinks I have it pretty easy compared to most.

See, while my parents aren’t exactly thrilled with the lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself — if my mother had it her way I’d marry a nice Irish girl and build a house next door — they haven’t offered up much resistance to it. As long as I’m happy and not hurting anyone, they’re pretty cool with however I choose to live my life.

I’m also fortunate in that my two older brothers have built houses very close to home, so my parents won’t be all alone or lacking in support as they grow older and less independent.

Oh, and I’ve never been a parent myself, so I have no idea what it’s like to have my kid abandon apparent sanity and chase a crazy dream.

So yeah, I can’t really tell you anything here from personal experience. But I’ll share my perspective anyways. Hopefully it helps.

Mr. and Mrs. Coelho

When folks email me about the parent issue, I like to bring up Paulo Coelho.

You’ve heard of him, right? One of the most successful authors alive today, he’s sold several billion books (give or take) worldwide. He doesn’t just write, he inspires. The world is undoubtedly a better place for him and his work.

But flash back to when Paulo was a teenager, and his parents had him committed to a mental institution. On three separate occasions.

Why?

Because he wanted to be a writer.

See, Mr. and Mrs. Coelho didn’t think “writer” was a practical career choice. They were full sure that their son would end up starving in a slum somewhere if he pursued his passion, and so they tried to talk him out of it. When he wouldn’t listen, a trip to the local nuthouse for a little electro-shock therapy seemed in order.

Thankfully, Paulo resisted his parents resistance and managed to become his best self anyways.

But what if the young Brazilian had succumbed to all that opposition and given up on his dream? What if he’d been a good son and obeyed his parents? Sure, he’d probably have become a successful lawyer and helped a lot of people anyway, but he would have had nowhere near the positive impact that he’s been able to achieve through his writing.

Fact is, the world today would be a little less bright had Paulo been a parent pleaser.

But here’s what I love most about Coelho’s story. When asked if he’d forgiven his parents for how they treated them, he responded

I did not need to forgive them, because I never blamed them for what happened. From their own point-of-view, they were trying to help me to get the discipline necessary to accomplish my deeds as an adult, and to forget the “dreams of a teenager.”

Why your parents don’t want you to be you

When parents offer resistance, I believe it’s for four primary reasons.

1) They want to protect you

The higher you set your aspirations, the bigger the potential for disappointment. Your parents don’t want to see you fall. They want you to succeed at everything and never get hurt. Of course, the world doesn’t work that way. Shield a kid from pain and she’ll never really live.

I truly believe that going all out to achieve your dream is reward enough in itself, even if you never quite reach it. Just in that journey you’ll feel alive more than you ever have before.

2) The fear of change

We’re all a little selfish, and we all resist change. Many parents don’t want their kids deviating from the norm because then the parents themselves will have to figure out a new reality, a different and uncomfortable reality where their kid doesn’t follow the rules and act predictably.

But hey, everything changes. Nothing stays the same. We adapt or we die.

3) That unflattering light

Then there’s the possibility that you going off and living your biggest dream will shine an unflattering light on the unfulfilling life your parents might lead. Because when we see someone else doing something that we’re too scared or lazy to do, it’s easy to feel bad about ourselves, and to resent that someone for “making” us feel that way.

Usually this will be subconscious if it’s there at all. So expect it, and forgive it. It comes from a place of low self-worth, of regret and despair. It’s nothing to do with you.

4) They really do need you

If you’re an only child or somehow your parents’ life support system, you can’t just drop everything and head off into the world to chase your biggest dream, leaving your parents to fend for themselves. I totally get and respect that. Giving up your own ambitions to care for loved ones is nothing short of heroic.

You need to be careful here though. I get the impression that many sons and daughters tell themselves that their parents can’t live without them, when in fact that’s just a convenient excuse to keep them from taking a scary leap.

Momma doesn’t always know best

A friend of mine dropped out of school at sixteen. His mother, herself a school teacher, almost killed the chap. She wanted him to follow in the footsteps of her eldest son, who had finished top of his class in high school, aced all four years at a fancy university to secure a prestigious degree, and landed a damn spiffy desk job before his grad hat hit the ground.

Fast forward a decade, and the eldest had abandoned the corporate life. The big paycheck didn’t compensate for all the uninspiring work and mountains of stress. He found himself much happier helping out his uncle laying hardwood floors, prestigious degree be damned.

And by that time, his younger brother (the dropout) had become highly-successful running his own garage, showing remarkable business smarts while turning his passion for everything on four wheels into an auto repair shop. He’s more artist than mechanic.

So one son did everything momma wanted, while the other listened to his gut and went his own way. They both ended up in their happy place, but the eldest needed a big detour to get there. Gotta be careful who you take directions from.

Honoring your parents

I feel my biggest loyalty lies with the world at large, and the potential I have to make it a better place, to reach as many people as possible in my lifetime and leave them better than I found them.

If you want to truly honor your loved ones, go out in the world and live your absolute best and brightest, make the most of that gift your parents gave you. And you have to be okay with the fact that they may always resent you for doing so, and you have to forgive them that resentment.

The alternative is for you to live your life the way your parents expect you to and never reach your dreams. And if you do that, it’s not just you who suffers, but everyone who stands to benefit from the gifts your best self has to offer.

I also like to believe that there’s an abundance of love in the world, and if my parents were to suddenly disown me for some reason, that other, more supportive people would step up to take their place.

They say family is everything, but I don’t believe you have to be related to someone by blood to have an extremely strong and fulfilling connection with them. On the flip side, many of us have family members who are terrible people and do nothing but drag us down. It’s just not smart trying to remain loyal to folks like that.

Have your parents ever held you back?

Like I said, I don’t have much in the way of personal experience to draw on here, so I’m interested to hear from others in the comments. How have you dealt with parental resistance?

UPDATES

Further reading/viewing on this topic:

  1. 6-minute TED Talk by Lisa Bu: Honoring your parents and obeying your parents are not the same thing. You don’t need to obey your parents to honor them, and quite often obeying their wishes that conflict with your own, will bring them dishonor in the long run.
  2. Mark Manson’s article on boundaries is a must-read for anyone who feels their parents don’t respect their wishes.
  3. Derek Halpern has a great video recommending the try-it-and-see approach when it comes to family resistance. That is, you tell them that you just want to try following your dream for a year, and if it doesn’t work out, then you’ll try it their way.

Would you be interested to learn from people who have successfully followed their dreams in spite of parental resistance? I am considering putting together an interview series with many such people. If you’d like to know when these interviews are available, enter your email address below.

“Yes, I would like to hear how other people have successfully dealt with parental resistance to live their wildest dreams.”

Absolutely no spam, I promise!

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163 Comments

  1. After my father died nearly nine years ago, I became a quasi-parent to my much younger brother and sister. I plan on leaving the country within the next couple of years to pursue my newly found dream and am worried about leaving them and my mother. In fact, the reason I’m waiting as long as I am is because I refuse to leave without seeing my sister graduate high school. This places some odd constraints on me, as if doesn’t work well with the timing of my goals.

    As it is, I try to balance my goals with my family, all of whom are important to me. My mother is worried for the reasons stated in the article, but will eventually come around. Everyone else is for it. I suppose that in the end, my commitment to family is holding me back more than my mother usually does.

      • Niall, I’ve spent YEARS trying to figure my life out, typically changing my mind every few weeks to every few months. I think I found my best path forward and am just trying to stick to it more than anything.

      • I don’t think it ever stops, man. There’s that saying that the price of getting what you want is getting what you wanted. Best we can do is take our best shot and enjoy the journey.

      • Niall,
        What a great and refreshing blog to peruse at this point in my life. Simply Wonderful, Thank you!
        I was going to post a reply to others, but this one seems to be the one hitting closest to home. Especially, when you say:
        “If you want to truly honor your loved ones, go out in the world and live your absolute best and brightest, make the most of that gift your parents gave you.”

        You see, I am a daughter AND a single mother. My boys are now 22 and 18 yrs old, and it is time for me to follow my dreams and allow them to follow theirs (with my support, of course). My widowed mother, on the other hand, is 66 yrs old and I have lived with her for the past 3 1/2 years while I worked part-time and attended college full-time. Sidenote… I’m 40 years old.

        However, that is not stopping me from graduating with two Associate’s degrees and flying to India to teach English part-time. I feel this is the time for action.

        My plans/goals: Move to India, marry my Indian fiance, get TEFL certification, teach English part-time, maybe have 1 or 2 children, do humanitarian projects for others, live minimally and eco-friendly, etc, etc…

        Whatever happens, happens.

        I am going into this adventurous dream with open eyes and a big heart. I truly want to help people.

        Your blog posts inspire me much! I look forward to reading your book.

        Now… to transform and cram a 23 year Accumulation of Shit into 2 suitcases and a carry-on. Ackkk! Let’s see how “extreme-yet-practical” I can go.

        Thanks again!

        • Wow, Sara. What a journey you’re on! If you find time when the dust settles you should consider sharing your story. I’m sure many people would find it inspirational.

          Good luck with the packing!

  2. Thanks for relaying the Coelho story. I’ve read The Alchemist several times and had no idea that his family actually had him committed for his writer aspirations. I’ve been fortunate to always have my mother’s support for my unorthodox approach to career and work, and I suppose my father as well. But as they (and I) get older I do wonder how my responsibility to take care of them in their later years will play out.

    • Hey Vic, thanks for the comment. Yeah, that whole caretaking thing is tricky. Like I said, I’m very lucky in that I have two older brothers living very close to my parents, but I’m not sure I’d feel right if they were doing all the looking after while I was off gallivanting around the globe. I’ll have to see how it plays out when the time comes.

  3. This post just reminds me to be the best parent I can be, and to support my daughter in whatever (safe) endeavor she chooses.

    Thank you for bringing this subject to light!

  4. As you already know, Niall, this is an issue I’ve been grappling with myself for the longest time, and this advice is a slap in the face no matter how many times I read it (and I mean that in a good way!). It’s something we all need to hear… we’re faced with a choice: we can either do as Mommy and Daddy want us to and forever wonder “what if,” or we can follow our own paths and find out.

    My personal experience is this: I have a thing for Russia. When I expressed interest in going to the Motherland, my mother, though she knew I’d been studying the language for close to a year, freaked out and informed me, “Nothing good ever came from THAT country.” Perhaps there’s a bit of old, Cold-War-era logic at play here, but the fact of the matter is this: My choices are to either to forget about going to Russia like she wants me to, or to go there anyway.

    I hate to admit that I chose the former the first time around. By no means is this an easy decision. But, I’m learning from my mistakes. I know that, when it comes time to apply for my university’s study abroad program, I won’t make the same mistake again. No matter how much I love my mother, I can’t spend my whole life catering to her.

    In short, every word in this post rings absolutely true. <3 Thank you so much for posting, Niall!

    • Thank you, Natalia. I can only imagine how difficult such a situation is. Wishing you all the best as you work towards your dream, and I hope your mother will come around and see how much it means to you.

  5. Great one, Niall. Although my parents are very supportive, I still find myself worrying over their opinion (knowing where we disagree) and wanting to please them. Understanding is the hardest part: I badly want others to understand me, and most of all my parents.

    And I really love how you articulated your mission in life. Loyalty to the world at large. Good, good stuff!

    • Thanks, Esther. I’m at pretty much the same place with my parents, disagreeing with them about a few things, but still wanting to please them. My dad, for example, doesn’t really get the whole veg diet thing, but he’s never put me down about it.

      Cheers!

  6. Niall – there should be a separate post for Asian parents.

    They don’t want you to be you, because they want:

    1) you to be a doctor

    2) you to be a pharmacist

    3) you to be a dentist

    4) any profession in the medical field so you will be able to provide free medical care to them in old age and they can tell all their friends they are getting free medical care. and make you give their friends free medical care.

    • It’s really coincidental to see someone post up about Asian-American parents. One of my friends here in Atlanta focuses her coaching on this very issue (among only two other specific areas). She had told me that Asian-Americans are very pressured to become medical professionals, which was an interesting an new concept to me, and writes about it at her blog at http://crystalkadakia.com

      Niall brings up a great point which I’ll comment on in more detail, but I thought you could use Crystal as an excellent resource/specialist in the Asian-American area you mentioned!

        • It’s not just Asian American parents. Nigerian American parents as well. They can be as unyielding as the worst of Asian American parents. But no one really talks about it. And that whole “Chinese Mothers are Superior” article by Amy Chua could have been written by a Nigerian woman, only some major substitutions would have been made, but the bottom line would remain the same: certain immigrant parents heap ridiculous amounts of expectations on their children.

    • hi there,
      you are taking about asian parents wanting children to b in medical field ,i tel you something i am doctor myself, even though my parents are not happy.i do not how to make them happy ?

    • Vishnu, you’re absolutely correct on that one! My mum is Asian and she is forcing me to become a doctor. She doesn’t care whether i want to be one or not. If i call her my “mum” and still live with her i have to do everything she says. I will be 16 in July, its illegal for me to live on my own in Australia. so i really don’t have a choice.

    • im a thirteen my mom wants me to be a doctor or some fancy career ive told her what i want to be a countless number of times but she keeps telling me that it could be ny hobby and that i wont make money i have a passion for designing i love fashion she keeps telling me that why cant i be more like thi person i just want her to understand that i am me and why cant she understand me for me no one understands me sometimes i just find myself saying and thinking that i cant wait to turn eighteen i have so much drama

    • OMG! I was hoping someone would say that. I’m this innocent Chinese teenager with some wild dream. I would like to become an actress and mentioned the topic to my mom. She said that I had to do something in the medical field.

      I know she wishes the best for me, but it’s getting extremely annoying and I want to carve out my own path of life. I don’t want to let my parents get involved in everything of my life. Dang it, they even chose the college I go to.

      Help… someone!

    • hi. I agree with you. I am 16 years old and i am facing the same situation. My parents are doctors and they want me to be the same. But i feel that biology isnt my cup of tea because i have never been able to score in it. i always get above 90% though. My marks increase only due to my good writing ability. so i have decided to be an author. i am an avid reader too. what is your opinion over this, Vishnu and Niall?

  7. Hey Mr D,

    Great post yet again. I fight with this on a daily basis – might be that divorced parents are the worst, a constant pulling on the mental chord strings.

    My mum is great – supports me in whatever I do, tells me to do it even if it goes against her immediate happiness.

    My dad? What a fucked up mess that is. Probably the main reason I choose not to live a normal lifestyle as he was so fed up with his while I was growing up. Now he expects me to do the same. “Why don’t you just get on with it?” he says to me.

    Get on with what? Being miserable and working in a stressful job to afford a load of a shit I don’t need, don’t impress people I don’t care about – (stole your quote from Caroline’s video here!)

    No thanks.

    • Good for you, Will. There are a lot of dads out there who say things like that to their kids, and unfortunately most of those kids never realize the stupidity of it. If only more parents were like your mum.

      Thanks for the comment, and for checking out my interview with Caroline :-)

  8. Parents often see their kids as a way to live vicariously the lives they didn’t live, or, if they “like” their credentials, kids are a way to make copies of themselves. That’s what I see, everywhere I look. Parents who allow their kids to make their own decisions without intruding too much but also provide emotional support and some guidance based on experience are rare. You ARE lucky, as you say.

    I don’t want to look like I’m shamelessly self-promoting, however, point number one in this post of mine:

    http://life-sucks.org/i-hate-life/

    and this short post in its’ entirety:

    http://life-sucks.org/what-is-happiness/

    deal with the same general issue and give a similar but different approach.

    Keep up the good work, Niall, yours is the first blog I started following, when I started reading blogs a few months ago. I thought, “who’s this guy who’s going to do what pleases him, rather than going out of his way to please ‘society’?”

    What I like is that you have a lot of very SIMILAR ideas to me but you’re coming from a completely different angle. And one thing I’ve learned is that absorbing new plausible angles and understanding them is a great way to expand one’s own consciousness and live a better life.

    Getting new ideas, etc…

    Keep going and keep posting!

    Dean.

    • Thanks, Dean. Just checked out those posts, liking your take. “Make sure your decisions are your own.” Absolutely.

      And don’t worry, I have no intention of stopping any time soon :-)

      Cheers!

  9. i’m not really successful – tho i love being me – but if i were more successful one day i’d say: “the key to my success was not to listen to my parents”. :)

  10. Niall… I could write a novel here about this, no word of a lie.

    My parents, even my brother, have done nothing but stifle and frustrate me since I was like 13. Granted, it was to get away from computer games BUT they also overdid it and insisted all of sudden that I stop liking childish things and grow up and get some ‘ cop on. ‘

    Thing is, their idea of being grown up and having cop on was vastly incompatible with how I see the world, to say the least. I did try and please them. However at one point, I was afraid to even think the way I wanted because I thought it was wrong and that their way was the ONLY way. Needless to say, it made me miserable.

    I did break free from this mental prison. However, I rarely talk to them about personal issues because they will shove the idea that my viewpoint is wrong down my throat and that I need to grow up and be realistic ( its also because I’m an introvert, even more so than my father ) Its also for this reason my laptop and other electronics I have with personal information on them are password protected and I don’t like family members going onto my laptop to check something.

    Its tough and I do appreciate what they did for me ( I was meant to be sent to a special school when I was younger – they had none of it ) but it doesn’t mean I should slavishly do what they want because of that. I want to live my own life in my own way.

    Identically, this same thing was what resulted in me beginning to question why things were the way they were from a fairly young age so I guess lifestyle design is a natural progression for me as a result. So I guess it can’t have being all bad.

    • Tough environment, Adrian. Fair play to you for rising above it and seeing it for what it is.

      I go back and forth between getting frustrated with people like that and feeling sorry for them. I found myself frustrated with an incident recently, but then thought a bit about it and realized that it was all external shit, nothing to do with me. Projection is a dangerous thing.

      Thanks for the comment, man.

  11. I left my life in the states to move back to Ireland to care for two family members one of which has alzheimers and the other suffered several strokes. As painful as it was to have to put my dreams of life in a new country on hold it would have been completely against my core values in life of living for the benefit of others. But like most things like that are neither black or white but rather a shade of grey. Every action has a reaction and that reaction on a personal level reguarding this event at times has been that of frustration and depression.

    The truth of the matter is there are a million and one reasons not to do something. Just because it may appear your life has reached a dead end and the wounds of that ball and chain around your ankle seems never to heal and its difficult to see the forest beyond the trees the lesson to be learnt from that experience is that of appreciation and gratitude for the things that are good in your life. Just because there are certain constrictions in our lives does not mean we should throw in the towel and give up on our dreams but instead maybe we should dive deeper into what is most important to us and what small goals can we achieve that help keep us motivated and inspired.

    Its not about setting out to building a wall and being overcome by the illusion of the greatness of that task but rather in focusing your effort in laying that first brick as best you can and repeating that process tirelessly,soon before you know it you’ll have that wall and you’d have achieved your goal.

    In terms of human evolution one of our under appreciated qualities is our ability to adapt to changing environments and respond to those challenge in a positive and productive way.

    Family is important,lets face it when things get ugly community is what saves us but what is equally important is the practice of letting go and accepting the choices that we make and the circumstances of our lives.

    Situations are what we make them,places are that too and wishing you where somewhere else,someone else or doing something else in my opinion is missing the point. Life for me is in being where you are when your there and doing what your doing when your doing it. Mindfully orchestrating a life that above all is fulfilling and of merit to others no matter the scale of your actions.

    Make the most of what ever situation your in and take every opportunity to grow. Compassion is both necessary to others and ourselves.

    Thnaks for the post Niall,this one hit home for me too.

    • Brilliant comment, Niall. Lots of great wisdom in there. I especially like this bit:

      “Just because there are certain constrictions in our lives does not mean we should throw in the towel and give up on our dreams but instead maybe we should dive deeper into what is most important to us and what small goals can we achieve that help keep us motivated and inspired.”

      I think you also hit upon a big key above: knowing your core values. And knowing that the core values of others will be different. And respecting those differences.

      Major respect to you for your integrity.

      Cheers!

  12. Great post ND. I postponed my adventures early on because of my mom’s concerns, among others. It was a long time before life finally gave me the opportunity again to live my dreams. No regrets though. I believe it came when it was suppose too, because as I look back on it now, I don’t think I could have ever appreciated everything in the way I do at this time, if you can understand what I mean.

    A topic of mine that I would very much like to get some feed back on is developing and maintaining relationships, especially with the opposite sex, given our lifestyles and personal choices. Have any thoughts. May be the subject of another blog post.

    By the way. I recently got a google+ invite. If you would like one let me know. You will get 150 free invites when you join, and that will give you another communication tool in your digital toolbox.

    Cheers, Michael

  13. For a while when I was growing up, life was just my mom and myself. Because of this I’ve got a very special spot in her heart. She busted her ass as a single parent, so she has a special part in mine, too.

    But this relationship makes her very VERY protective and over the years she has become more and more terrified of the great big world we live in. She only wants to travel to ‘safe’ places (meaning, very Americanized for tourists)

    This is unfortunately limiting, and she worries herself sick about my views of life. She sees recklessness where I see courage, and she sees foolishness where I see fortune.

    I don’t think I will personally know how she feels until I have children of my own though.

    Thanks for the post, Niall, great stuff as always. =)

    • Thanks, Tim. I feel the same, can’t really know how our parents feel until we have kids ourselves. I’m sure some day I’ll have a better perspective on all of this :-)

      Cheers for the comments.

  14. I wish I had had the opportunity of reading this post when I was 18 and chose not go to college to a different city mainly for my parent’s concerns, and my own concerns about them being sad. That was the first and last time I stopped doing something out of fear of hurting my parents, I don’t regret it, though, because I ended up doing more or less what I wanted although it took me longer, but I regretted it for a long time and blame my mother for it, for not being supportive, rather the opposite. It took me a while to realize the ugly truth: I was the only one to blame for not being strong enough and do what I considered good for me, and for using my parents as an excuse when I was scared to death to pursue my dream career out my city.

    I guess I am the person I am, thanks or despite my parents. They are extremely protective and always opposed a strong resistance whenever I wanted to do something out of home, which seemed to be the only safe place and where the real love was (according to them). It might be the safest, but it has always made me feel constraint, so I’ve always been fighting against my parents or their expectations, trying to explaining them what I wanted and who I was, which it has been great to strengthen myself and decipher my personality and motivations.

    I’m fighting less and less now, not because they understand me (the female part of my family still don’t) but because I know they never will. My only aspiration now is that they accept me as I am and that they are sure I love them and I will be there whenever they really need me. Still a lot of work to do in that regard…

    • Thanks for sharing, María. I know it hasn’t been easy for you, and it still isn’t. But it sounds like you’ve come a long way and are in a better place with it now. I like what you say about not fighting so much anymore. I think that’s a really good approach, since there’s little we can do to control the fears and projections of others.

      Muchos abrazos.

  15. Holy Cow! Coincidence? I think not!

    Mr. D, you’re cool. No, more like AWESOME. I randomly came across your blog’s link from Benny the Irish Polyglot. He’s the reason why I got the courage to dive into my upcoming language-learning adventure in the first place. Paulo Coelho’s the reason why I decided to stick it to everyone who ever shook their head when I told them about my dreams and just go for them. Actually, came across his “Warrior of the Light” book at my local library by sheer chance sometime ago. (strangely, the book didn’t even come from the library branch I was in that day) Never even heard of him before. Definitely changed the way I live my life now, though.

    Now I’m 18, just graduated from high school and made the craziest decision of my life to learn the languages I’ve always dreamed of learning: Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and French. I’m travelling to Bolivia, Brazil, Italy & France for 3 months each (inspired by Benny) with money that I’ve saved up for YEARS. (But of course hoping to do some couchsurfing, WWOOFing, HelpXing, WorkAwaying . . . you name it!)

    Geez, talk about going against my parent’s wishes!!! You said it, alright! I had to fight my way through just to tell them that I wanted to take a year off.

    Hope it all works out!

    Do you couchsurf? Would love to treat you to a coffee or a drink sometime (perhaps in Spanish after my trip)!

    All the best with your dreams! It’s always nice to realize that there are other fellow maverick go-getters out there in the world!

    Cordialmente,

    Paco

    • Thanks so much for that, Paco. Your comment was exactly what I needed to see this morning :-)

      I love the sound of this adventure you have lined up for yourself. Let me know if you’ll be writing about it anywhere, would be great to follow along.

      And yes, I’m a Couchsurfer. I’m sure we’ll meet on the road at some point :-)

  16. My mum seems to have the idea that I should work as an economist or mathematician. And while I have talent for maths, I’m far more interested in personal development and helping people.

    It’s okay, I don’t blame my mum, because I see where she’s coming from. I’ll just go ahead with my dreams anyway, and I’m sure she’ll come around when she sees me living a happy, fulfilling life doing things I love!

    • I like to think that most parents come around eventually. I’m pretty sure Mr. and Mrs. Coelho would have been very proud of their son after he became the best-selling Brazilian author of all-time.

      Thanks for the comment, Vlad. Hope you’re enjoying your trip :-)

  17. Great post, Niall!

    I’m a big Alchemist fan and wasn’t aware of Paulo’s crazy parents.

    I’m lucky myself that this has never been an issue. They could actually probably try to talk me out of some of the stuff I try and that would help.

    Rock it!

  18. Fantastic post as usual, Niall. You have a knack for covering the things that people think and talk about in their small circles, but don’t blog about very often. :) Your ‘missing people’ post hit me squarely in the face this way, too. :)

    Yep, I’ve dealt with this, as have several of my friends… particularly with quitting a PhD program. Parents don’t seem to understand why we don’t just go for it if we had the ability, though I know 100% that leaving my math PhD was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The older I get, the clearer it is that while most people mean well, there really are NO experts – not bosses, parents, friends, or even professionals – that can absolutely tell you what’s best for you all the time. Intuition, gut, and a strong sense of self make a great filter. :)

  19. Wow, looks like I get to be the first mum to comment on this!

    My own experience has been the usual one: my parents gave me unconditional love, yet with a possessive flavour. I still hear mum’s voice in my head when I’m making big decisions.

    Now I’m a mother of a young man myself. Ever since he was born I’ve been getting ready for this chapter of life as I really really need to do this right. It is a brutal fact that there is no way to protect your loved ones. But there are ways to suffocate them, meaning well and all. I don’t want to end up doing that.

    To let your child spread his own wings and fly is the ultimate test of motherhood. Not for sissies, I tell you. There are moments when you feel like Gandalf sending Frodo to Mordor. But if you know your frodo really well you trust him to be alright no matter what.

    Only it would have been a bit easier for the worried wizard had there been mobile phones or internet…

  20. Great post Nial! First off, I want to thank you for bringing Paulo Coelho to my attention. Just read all about him. Can’t wait to read The Alchemist now…

    Secondly, I am about to begin a journey through Central and South America. I suspect it will be many years. I don’t see myself setting down for very long. My parents are worried about the violence, drugs, and unrest in these foreign countries.

    I just tell myself, “It’s my life, and it’s the only one I have. I need to live for myself.” A person has to realize at some point if you spend your life living for other people, when you come to the end you’ll be left with regrets.

  21. Niall, I’ve been reading your blog all morning and was tempted to comment on each and every post. However, this one got me hooked ..

    Without going into my full life story, I spent about 10 years being incredibly angry with my Dad – the smouldering, under the surface kind of anger. I never expressed it to him directly, but it was always there like an elephant in the room.

    I had a long list of stuff I blamed him for. Stuff he’d done or not done which impacted my happiness, stuff that I could only interpret as unfeeling or uncaring on his part.

    I was pretty angry with him.

    Fast forward 10 years and, thankfully, he’s still alive and well – because with the benefit of hindsight, I realise it was all my crap – projected onto him.

    Was he a perfect father? Nope. Did he care and do his best? Yep.

    The truth is, I wasn’t happy at the time and he was an easy target – ask any therapist. Now I’m happy and fulfilled, I’m not angry and don’t need to blame anyone.

    I guess the point I’m making is that it’s easy to blame parents when stuff is messed up in one’s life – but that doesn’t make them ‘guilty’.

    What I’ve personally found to be useful is to accept them as fallible human beings and take responsibility for my own choices and whatever the consequences are.

    The alternative is to spend the rest of my life blaming them, or someone else, or society, or .. and never get off my fat arse and make the most of my time here.

  22. Interesting comments and full of honesty.

    Regarding blame…

    I fail to have met people who it left feeling better about themselves or others. Yep, blaming seems to never make us feel better. We must nevertheless avoid falling into denial and rather be able to ascertain what has happened to us.

    I know my parents raised me blaming me for who I was and I transgressed this blame by trying to please them by putting the real me in the shadow and trying to become someone I wasn’t. From such a system, a self propelled process of blame and shame was produced. This process is in my opinion what we must have the courage to identify and leave in order to live our true purpose and create a life to be truly happy.

    I guess the point I want to make is those of you like me must not wait to save them all before we start moving forward (as they may not want to be saved from THEIR dream, even if it appears to us like it sucks or make us weep to see them like that or be less tham what you feel they could be).

    Namaste!

  23. Honestly, my parents have offered resistance to my career decisions every day. They wanted me to be a medical doctor, I pursued a career in Political Theory and philosophy. Although, vocally my parents offer resistance and daily commentary, they have never, like your parents, stood in my way to attaining my goal. In fact, my parents continually push me forward, encourage me to strive in my academic life, despite their disagreements in my decisions.

    So, although I think my parents often disagree with my personal decisions, they tacitly have a breaking point. If I cross this imaginary point, they may be a bit more adamant to get me back behind this line. However, I don’t that breaking point is absolute and it is contingent upon how I frame it to them.

    Overall, I believe my parents have, although verbally, not been supportive, they have always been okay with my decisions, because they trust my rationale. They can be frustrating, in terms of ‘relationship’ advice and at times may micro-manage my life. But for the most part, are probably the reason why I have set my own high standards and in 24 years was able to attain 2 master degrees and am currently finishing up the last year or so of my phd.

    Great post!

  24. Thank you for the article. I just looked up the subject after my parent made a comment about how “You never knew what you wanted to do”. “You took too long to pick a profession”. Which isn’t true. I always knew what I wanted to do. It just wasn’t what she liked or wanted. In my family’s culture, you’re not really in a lucrative field unless you are a doctor, a lawyer, or and engineer, etc. That’s pretty limited, but understandable considering they had to escape the poverty of their country. I do agree with them that education is important. But what I wanted to be had to have the “clearance” through them. I’ve managed to find my way and explore different career paths that have enriched my life in so many ways. I never thought that my life was about picking a profession as if that was my whole existence. My life is journey and luckily I have been in a culture that has given me the freedom to choose–something my parents didn’t have. I agree with the writer that we would be different people and are denying the joy we give to others if we don’t follow our gut. Even if we do follow what are parents want, eventually our spirits will take us to where we need to go, but it will be that much later for taking the long route.

    I just have gotten tired of listening to the same tape from my parent after all these years, and that they will never let me forget that they can make me feel guilty. So, I forgive them and realize that they might not know better but they did the best they could by at least thinking the best for me. I don’t regret not being popular in the family. I have dreams. It’s between me and my Spirit which way my life will go.

  25. I’ m very impressedi about your article.It really motivates me. Well ,I’m a teen and I want to be a fashion designer in my nearj future but my parents were unsupportive .They said it just a hobby not a right career path and it is too risky because a lot of money is needed to begin with…I also plan to work oversea and I had this passion whenever I design something new.Lastly,I just need to know your advice about should I continue my dreams or follow parents guidance.I m really in a hopeless state.

  26. Well this was really helpful, but my parents won’t listen to me.
    Well I want to be a musician and I have potential, beacause I’ve finished music school and I really like making music.
    Basically, music is my passion and I feel good while making it.
    But here in Lithuania, everybody thinks, that musicians earn cents. And my mother wants me to be an Odontologist, but I mean, it’s medicine, and I hate it.
    So nobody listens to me and says what I HAVE to do.

    I’m pretty desperate.
    so could you please give some help?

    • Follow your passion, David.. in the long run, what you enjoy the most will mean the world to you. My parents liked sciences too.. I took all science-related courses in highschool and was actually going to pursue a science-field. But then just before I applied to any science-related programs, it hit me that I love computers… I should apply to computers… I did, and now thank god I’m the most happiest person because of the profession I chose.. so follow your heart.. you will be more happier..

  27. At this moment, i am getting no sleep more than 3-4 hours per night, not eating almost at all since few days except the cheapest Chinese take outs, my partner in my trading business is giving up on me assuming i am no good to him, 125 dollars left in my bank account.

    And one look of failure from my parents, drops me in deep depression. Makes me feel that i am the biggest looser in the whole world, i don’t know no more how to convince them that i can succeed in my business, only if for once they showed some sort of support, i would get some life back in me !!

    looking forward to a word from you.

  28. I studied overseas in Australia for a few years and returned back home to see my parents. I thought while I was here I could do my internship because I am a health professional and what was meant to be a long visit is turning into a prison. I sincerely want to return to Australia but my parents go mental every time I bring it up and they do the usual extreme guilt trip saying that they are old and who is going to take care of them. I am the youngest of 3 brothers with 10 years apart from my older brothers. They have both gone away at my age and did what they wanted to do and now they live nearby but because my parents have a bad relationship with them I am expected to give up on my dreams because they are too proud to call them for help if they should need it. I haven’t slept in a year and every day I suffer from anxiety and depression yet my parents seem completely oblivious of it. When I tried to open up to my mom and told her I am really depressed she simply replied that it was “my fault”. When I tell them that I have dreams and things they want to do they reply that I can do what I want after they die.

    Every day I am conflicted whether I should follow my dreams or stay and do my “duty”. The sad thing is that I am able to fulfil my dreams, I have the means and support but my parents are against me and resist me at every stage.

    • Hey John,

      Interesting timing on your comment as I’m reading a book right now called How Good People Make Tough Choices. The author talks about moral temptations and ethical dilemmas. The former are right vs. wrong, whereas the latter are right vs. right.

      Sounds like you’re definitely facing an ethical dilemma. It’s right to stay and look after your parents. And it’s also right to go and follow your dreams.

      There’s no easy answer to your dilemma, but I recommend checking that book out for yourself. It provides a framework for working through such issues and making choices you’re unlikely to regret.

    • Hey John,
      How’s your situation now?
      I understand what you are going through.
      I am in the almost same situation as you, but slightly different.
      I am the only child and I was suppose to go somewhere far from my hometown to pursue my dream career but prior to my departure, my mom had a meltdown and threw me an ultimatum. It was either family or my dreams. She even said that she wanted to disown me if I were to go.I was in great shock and pain.This had been a year ago and everday I am feeling so sad that after I had given up so much(my then happy but not fulfilling job in another city, my comfortable flat that I had spent so much on, familiar friends) and I still fail to pursue my dreams.

  29. Wow, Niall. Reading this I felt like you were speaking directly to me. It is exactly how I feel and my relationship with my parents. I am the eldest son you describe. I took the detour.

    I am three months from graduating medical school and I am giving it up to pursue music. I never thought that my parents were controlling me because it was always MY decision which career to pursue. But my choice was not free. I was limited to “practical” careers. Medicine, Law, or Business. Pick one. And I was smart enough to do whichever one I chose. I picked medicine.

    As my childhood faded away, and my adulthood became filled with countless hours of studying instead of creating, I felt as if I was drifting. My depression, angst, and anxiety all increased. My father would tell me that I needed to just relax and live in the present moment. That’s when I realized how much I hated the present moment.

    But I still couldn’t quit. I had come too far. I was in too much debt. And I was lying to myself everyday about how I felt about medicine. And then it came time to match for residency. I did all the preparations. And a week before the residency match, I broke down. I finally gave in to my desires. The realization that I was about to commit the next 4 years of my life to something I didn’t want. I could no longer bear it.

    I wrote my parents a letter. They called me immediately. I broke down over the phone, sobbing, and telling them how I really felt. They told me to calm down. They told me I was having a manic episode. And I believed them.

    They convinced me I was bipolar. And it was hard to deny it. Even with my medical knowledge. Because I was exhibiting wild mood swings. I was talking rapidly.

    Today, it all finally came to a head. Last night, I was working on my new project so in depth that I had a feeling of elation so great it was a religious experience. And I am not a religious person. Later, I thought this might be the euphoria of bipolarism.

    I went to a psychiatrist to get a mood stabilizer. I told him everything. And he told me he didn’t think I was bipolar. He told me that I didn’t fit a lot of the criteria. He told me it was also unlikely given my age (28), that it would appear this late in my life and not earlier.

    Shocked, and feeling very validated, I called my parents. They flipped out. They called the doctor a lunatic. They said they couldn’t believe they were wasting money on him.

    And it finally hit me. What I had never even considered possible. That my parents were controlling my decisions. My parents have allowed me to make every decision in my life except one. My choice of career. They have always demonized my friends who were attempting less “practical” careers. So they made sure my career was practical. And I have always felt that I owed it to them. That they had given me so much. They deserved to have a son who was a doctor. But I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was too miserable. And too many of my friends were living their dreams and making them a reality.

    I don’t blame my parents. I am certain what they did was out of love. I know that they don’t realize they are doing it. But it is time to break free.

    It is my life. It’s time I went and lived it.

    • Holy shit, Josh. That is one epic realization to have come to. Sounds like you’ve got a whole new life ahead of you. Congrats, dude! So many people never get to experience such an awakening!

    • Hey Josh,

      How did things turn out for you? I’m going through almost the same exact situation.

      From a young age, it had been decided that I was going to become a doctor. Around the age of 12, I’d developed my passions for computers. I played with them every single day. I loved them. My parents would constantly tell me to stop wasting my time and do something productive, which is a shame because I think I was actually quite lucky to have discovered a strong interest at such a young age.

      Then freshman year of high school rolled around and my father sat me down to have the talk about my future. He asked me what I wanted to do. I immediately told him computer science. His response was that he knew friends in the field who could barely support their families. Then I said I wanted to perhaps pursue business. He said any old schmuck of the street could study that and that I needed to think of something else. I finally came to medicine, and his demeanor had completely changed, calling me wise and proud I had made the right decision.

      So I went along with it. After all, as long as I wanted to do medicine, they’d give me everything. Education, support, approval, anything. It felt safe and comfortable. But I kept finding myself still wanting to pursue my hobbies. Every year or so I would erupt in anger and resentment to tell them that I wasn’t happy, that I’d rather be studying this or that. They’d tell me to stop acting irresponsible, to be realistic, and that “when you grow up you’ll understand.” So I half-assedly went through college, then barely made it to a no-name medical school, all the while telling them that I was not happy. I couldn’t jump ship because I’d lose everything, my family, my support, the only things I could find comfort in.

      Now I find myself in my last year of medical school, around that time when you apply for residency, and I’m not applying. I’ve decided to go ahead and finally do what I want. I’m not going to commit to another 3/4 years of work I’m not happy doing. I’m in a relationship that my father only agreed to support if I were going to pursue a residency, so now I’m finding myself having to string him along so that he does not compromise my relationship. He asks me about how apps are going, and when he hears my disdain, he keeps drilling it into my head that this is essentially a life-or-death situation. If I don’t find a job as a doctor, I’ll end up homeless. And although I can rationalize how false that is consciously, I think years of that sort of talk have convinced me that it’s true subconsciously, and so I live every single day in anxiety, questioning my abilities, about whether I will actually end up homeless.

      It’s my life, but I’m so afraid of losing my parents in the process of pursuing my interests. I’m knee-deep in debt now, I hate every second of my working life, and I spend my days looking at my friends in jealousy and resentment for many of them have gone on to do the very thing I’ve wanted to do since the age of 12.

  30. Hey mate,
    I kindda have a issue at hand and you really seem to know what your talking about, so here it goes: so i applied for this spiffy job, my dream job and they really liked me and wanted me to come in for a trial. I thought i ought to be honest with both my parents but it backfired badly. They think it is dangerous, wrong and pretty much what they say goes. Also to make the situation worse, i happen to be a diplomate and I’m afraid they they might send me back to my hone country if i went after my dreams (in this case the job), they rarely let me go out too and if i do go out its leads to a war at home. I really want this job, have been dreaming of getting it ever since i was 15 (i am now 20) and now i have missed the trial. I cant move out because of all this diplomatic stuff.
    Do you have any advice for me? Could you e-mail me back please?
    Cheers mate.

    • Hi Mary,

      I’ve never been in a situation like that so take my advice with a grain of salt. I’d urge you to think twenty years into the future though. If you abide by your parents wishes, do you think you’ll be happy?

  31. Hey niall,
    Thanks for getting back to me, it means a lot. Well, with all honesty…im overage and i just feel thats its time for me to live life without fear of “whats going to happen next”. I mean this is my dream job and i got accepted and they just wont listen to me. They have their life and had their dream jobs and all…why wont they let me do what i want? My mother always told me “im not going to force you into any job, do what ever job you want” and it just sounds like the biggest lie now.
    I cant move out, i cant leave, i cent even live my life. So whats the point really?

  32. Hey Niall!
    Your article really hits home in my heart, almost to the point of tears. I’m 18 and currently planning to go to university next year. The thing is, I applied to engineering because I’m strong in math and the sciences, but that’s not what I truly want to do. In fact, I really hate it in all honesty. Just thinking about how I have to spend the next four years studying like hell for the things I absolutely hate 24/7 and to go into that career doing that for the rest of my life has honestly given me several episodes of breakdowns. Yet I’ve been accepted to all the universities I’ve applied to with scholarships and stuff. My parents seem pretty proud of me, but I don’t – no, I feel so empty. All these years, all I really wanted to do draw. I’ve always wanted to enter the arts field and drawing is the only thing that truly makes me happy and I would do anything to spend as much time on it as possible, but unfortunately my family wouldn’t support me. They been telling me over and over how I shouldn’t pursue the field ever since I was a child and officially shot down my dreams when I was 13 because I was a strong student academically. Since then I’ve been studying like a robot, but I feel so empty. Deep down, I know I won’t be able to make it if I go down the road I’m heading right now. Yet, I don’t know what to do anymore… It’s honestly very tough when my parents won’t give me the support I need, saying things like I can’t make a living if I were to go down the road I want to, I’m too naive, that I can’t always do the things I like because reality just doesn’t work that way, illustration isn’t a real job, and even how I’d be wasting my strengths as a strong student getting straight A’s. I can see where they’re coming from – they’re afraid I won’t be able to earn a decent living once they pass away since they are rather old compared to most parents and they don’t earn much compared to other families because they didn’t get a proper education. I know they want me to have a better future than they did. If I were to become an engineer, at least I could possibly support my parents, but a selfish side of me says that after that, what will be left for me? Struggling to get a Bachelor’s degree just to punch in numbers in an office for the rest of my life and all for earning a bit of money? That sounds like a pretty sad life to me. It’s really an internal struggle I fight everyday, especially these days, and I don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve been fooling myself all these years thinking that this is going to make me happy, but now that my friends keep telling me why I should cut myself short in life and reading this article really makes me wonder again.
    In all honesty, I wish I knew how to let go of my dreams. I wish I could drop my pencil and never pick of drawing again; then I wouldn’t have to struggle so much. It’s kind of funny because the only reason why I chose engineering out of any career was because I could probably get a job immediately after just a Bachelor’s degree, though it’d be a painful 4 years. Then I could start focusing on what I truly want to do once I get a job and earn a decent living, but lately I’ve been rethinking if this is the right choice for me. Should I really follow my parents wishes so that I can support them, or do I go for my own happiness, even if I may struggle for quite a bit of time or even the rest of my life possibly in terms of financial stability. I’ll probably get back to you when I come up with a decision. For now, I’d like to say thank you so much for writing this article. I think I’m closer than I’ve ever been to reaching a decision, and to see so many people’s stories has truly been a moving experience. I hope that soon I can see the light at the end of this long, long tunnel.

    • Hi Kayla. Thanks so much for sharing that. It’s a tough situation you’re in, no doubt about it. I hope you’re closer now to reaching a decision you’re satisfied with.

      One thing I will say…

      “do I go for my own happiness, even if I may struggle for quite a bit of time or even the rest of my life possibly in terms of financial stability.”

      I don’t think you need to worry quite that much about it. I thought as well when I was younger that some of the decisions I was making then would affect the rest of my life, but it rarely turns out that way. You’re free to choose different and change directions at any time. Don’t feel like you have to make the right decision now because you’ll never be able to change your mind. Life is long. You’ll have lots of opportunities to change course.

  33. Hi,myself Devanjoli from INDIA. I am a student,I have recently appeared my class-12 final examination and now am searching for good college to pursue my higher studies in INDIA itself. My father is no more in this world so me and my mother stays together and she is a senior teacher and her teaching experience is from last 13 yrs I.e., she is teaching since 13 yrs.I respect her a lot but she doesn’t understands me I want to go to a college named lovely professional university for doing the course of B.pharma as m a science student and this college is ranked as 6th best college in whole INDIA and its reasonable for my course too.But the problem is my mother,she is not allowing me to go to that college and I can’t even find any reason why she is denying me since yesterday night m crying continuously till now but she is not trying to understand my feelings what should I do now? Please help me….

    • Devanjoli, thanks for writing. That’s a tough situation. What options do you have? I can think of three:

      - You can continue to try talk with your mother and hope that she will understand.
      - You can stop trying to convince her and just do what you want, and be ready for her resistance.
      - You can move away from her.

      What do you think?

  34. Thanks so much for the advice-I came to this blog to prepare myself for an upcoming family meeting about ‘my future.’ No matter how many successes I’ve managed to earn in my career as an artist I’m constantly seen as not good enough by my parents. Even though I’m nearly 30, they seem to think that I’m going to grow out of who I am and suddenly decide to study engineering. They’ve done their fair share of shaming, manipulating, and putting me down. One of their favourite sayings is, “It’s not to late, you know. You were really smart in high-school.” Of course I was. And I need to be. I don’t know any good artists who are stupid.

    My sister is currently in law school and has recently adopted a tone of disrespect, superiority, and mockery. So I don’t call her any more. I’m trying to be patient with my parents and slowly help them understand, but I get my feelings hurt pretty regularly and I wonder how much contact with them is good for me.

    Why are so many of our family members the least supportive people we know? Don’t they realize that the only thing they can do to increase my chances of success is help make us feel strong, confident, and supported? As if nudging us in the direction of doubt and fear could ever do us any good.

    It helps to read this blog and know that I’m not alone. All the best to all you talented, brave dreamers who are tired of being underestimated. Maybe one of the best things our generation can do is resist the tendency to ascribe a social hierarchy to jobs and to cultivate an attitude of equality and tolerance.

  35. I’m glad I found this. At the moment, I’m struggling with making the decision to drop out of college. I’ve always been a good student and graduated top of my class in high school, so my parents expect a lot from me. But the things I really want to do with my life – travel, write, blog, maybe start a business (anything but a “practical” job) – don’t require a degree and I can’t see wasting the time and money to get one.

    My parents disagree. My dad thinks that college will always equal success, and my mom never went to college and hates her job, so she wants something better for me, which I can understand. But college isn’t a guarantee for a job anymore anyway (I tried explaining that to them and they insist I should have one regardless, because “no one can take your education from you” – yep, all that memorization and essay bullshitting really provides you with knowledge of the real world…) My five older siblings have high expectations of me also, and they all went to college, so my parents expect me to follow them. They’re all very discouraging when I try to tell them what I want to do with my life, saying that I’ll never be successful or make enough money to survive, and I need to get a “real job.”

    I may do well in school, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I know college isn’t for me and all I want to do is leave, but my family is holding me back.

    • Sounds like you’ll just have to go ahead and take that leap without their support, Megan. They’ll likely come around after a while when they see you happy and thriving out of college.

      • Thanks for replying Niall. Well I did it – I dropped out yesterday! I’ve never felt better. My parents aren’t happy, but I’ll deal, and their insisting that I’m going to be unsuccessful in life is motivating me to prove them wrong! Your blog is inspiring me as well :D

  36. Honestly Niall your blog is a true soul catalyst. Just know I am discovering there is a “neo-nomadic awakening” and all those inspiring people joining the tribe.

    I have never been able to fit in standard “normality”. A 9-5 job, a mortgage, a brick house and a car bought in installments, a married life and dreams postponed until age 65 were unthinkable from the onset within my innermost self. That’s why I have been a freelance nomad for more than 18 years now.

    For a long time my life choice has caused me lots of trouble with my “normal” relatives and friends (“When-are-you going-to-marry-settle-down-get-a-real job-think-of-your-old-age..”), to the point that sometimes I have felt very weird and lonely.

    You are really helping me to feel strong again and sure in the way of my heart.

    Blessings for your soul travels.

  37. Hi Niall,

    I’m a 17 year old boy from India, and have just finished schooling. I have always wanted to be professional racing driver ever since I first drove a go-kart almost 10 years ago. Now that I have started expressing my interest in motorsports to my father, he has turned on me. According to him, we don’t have the finances that are required in this field.
    Also, since it is very unpredictable, I have decided to pursue Automobile Engineering as well, so as to have some backup.
    I am absolutely sure I have the talent. I don’t know if he knows this or not. Instead, he is ordering me not to race at all, ever. And he doesn’t want me study Automobile Engineering as well, because he thinks I’m choosing this field to support my racing. He wants me to do what millions of other people do. I fail to understand why he doesn’t see my vision to do something different and new.

    Words cannot describe the passion I have for racing, and I am 200% sure that I can go a long way, only if he supports me, and not shout at me everytime I bring this up.

    I know I haven’t been the topper of my class, and that’s because I don’t like studying in general, or maybe because I commit things to him under pressure and when I fail to achieve them, I feel under confident. And he should know this too.

    I can’t see myself doing anything else in life, apart from what I want. Fine, even if I do find something , I’ll never be good at it, because it’d be more of a burden. I’d never be happy in life, and I don’t want that. I hope you understand how difficult it has become for me.

    Don’t tell me to sit and talk because I’ve already tried that numerous times, only to hear his raised voice at the end.
    Please help me out Niall. I’m counting on you.

    • Hey Garvit,

      Thanks for sharing. Definitely a tough situation, and I don’t think there’s any easy solution. If you really want to live your dream and your father isn’t willing to accept that, you may need to go against his wishes and make your own way without his support.

      One book that I read recently that you might find interesting is Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The poor dad in that book is a good example of a parent having the best of intentions for their child, but not really knowing what’s best for them because they’re only viewing the world through their limited personal lens.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. I hope everything works out.

      All the best!

      • Hi Niall,

        Thanks for the response. I could go against his wishes and make my own way, but I’m afraid it won’t be as easy as that. This is because firstly, going against family will put me in a very difficult situation, emotionally. What this means is unless I have emotional support of my father, I won’t feel motivated to win.

        Secondly, racing is a very expensive sport.
        Couple that with my education costs, it will be near-impossible for me myself to fund them both at the same time.

        What I can look forward to, is sponsorship.
        I will try and find someone who can fund my racing and maybe that will change my fathers’ mind.

        Anyway, it was great talking to you and letting it all out at once. I just felt like I needed to share with somebody who’d listen. T
        hank you Niall, and I’ll try to get hold of that book you’ve mentioned. Thank you once again.

        • Hi Garvit,

          I also asked a few friends about your situation, and here are their response. Different perspectives might be helpful:

          #1

          That’s tough. The easy thing is to tell him to follow his passion. He seems certain enough that he will succeed. I don’t really know. It feels a bit like in his comment he’s looking for affirmation that he can be successful as a racecar driver. So he probably should pursue it. If he doesn’t he’ll likely be resentful of his own choice not to pursue it, and/or he may project resentment on to his father for not supporting him in his desire to race.

          Either way he may have a rift with his father, and if that’s the case, he might as well be racing! Plus if he’s successful, his father would hopefully come around.

          Perhaps in an effort to compromise with his father, he could have 2 years (or the number of years he and his father agree on) to pursue racing and see if he likes it and can establish himself in it…

          #2

          A guy (from Europe) stayed with me after having a similar situation with his parents, he chose to go couchsurfing for a while to get perspective, then ended up going to college in Northern Ireland doing what he wanted to do. It is hard to see a clearly situation while you’re in it.

          #3

          I had the same situation. I had a passion for acting. I wanted to go to college and get a degree in acting. My mother told me I would never be able to make a living at it and that I wasn’t very good anyway. She refused to let me try. I started college, took a few general classes and was bored and unmotivated. I dropped out, ran away from home, and wound up without a degree in anything, married with 4 kids. I love my kids, but I have been depressed and miserable… because I did not even try to follow my dreams. As for the acting, I joined a local theatre troupe and became quite good, and a local favourite. So, the argument that I would not succeed at it was not valid. My relationship with my mother is non-existent, because I never stopped resenting her squashing my dreams. My advice to you is… take the chance and follow your dream. Take the hard road, because believe me, that misery will hurt less.

  38. I was sitting on my sofa (in Australia) last night arguing via text with my mother who lives in Wales and I got really sad as I have the same conversation night after night. It start positive and happy and ends in tears and anger.

    Just to out you in the picture I travelled to Australia 10 years ago as a backpacker. I got sponsored by my design employer and then eventually met the man of my dreams and set up my own design business. I now have a little boy too. So I am well and truly happy in Australia. I always had a dream to travel and find my path as a designer. My family were supportive to start with but then I got married and they haven’t coped since. I get a lot of resentment now to the point where my parents barely talk to me. I keep trying to communicate and keep positive. I travel back every 2 years to visit but nothing seems to make them happy.

    Its sad and in desperation last night I googled the subject because i don’t know what you do anymore. I really do feel responsible for their unhappiness now. If I moved back i know won’t be as happy as I am here not because of family but because I don’t feel I can follow my ambitions there.

    I have suggested therapy too so hopefully one day we can be more positive as a family and plan special moments together.

    I do have younger brothers who will be leaving the nest too soon. I wonder if they will react different;y because they are men.

    Thanks for the article it does make me realise I really am honouring my parents by following my heart and my dreams and they were responsible for making me that way which I am thankful for.

    I will make sure to remember this advise for my own children too when they decide to venture around the world.

    • Thanks for sharing, Fiona. You sound like an amazing daughter who really cares for her family and wants things to turn out well for all. I wish you nothing but the best.

  39. I come from an indian family where since childhood Ive seen my father abusing us verbally and physically on things like going around with guys in teens(mind you not even kissing or sleeping but just going around). Hes someone whose public image is more important for him than anything else.i am 28years old now and have been living with the guilt that i have been tarnishing his image. I feel depressed now. He conradicts almost everything I do. I mostly give up. I feel its pointless to ask him as he’ll contradict only and so I just kill my dreams. I am really very scared of him. If had to abandon them i dont know where would I go. Theyve been asking me to get married for about 7years now but somehow I have been managing to escape.Now I want to marry someone of my choice. I have told my parets about it and they emotionally blackmail me. I dont know what to do. I feel like a failure. I couldnt pursue the career of my choice and now i cant marry the guy of my choice.

    • Damn, khushi. That sounds like a horrible situation. I know it’s easier for me to say as an outsider, but I would be getting away from a family like that as soon as possible. What’s the advantage of staying? You get to please people who don’t respect your dreams?

  40. hi iam from india iam very upset and depressed these days from my parents they just are being too rigid by their ways.recently we shifted to a place which is 25km away from the main city where we earlier lived .it is the city where my college is situated and all the things available for me to furthur pursue my dreams studies and career it takes six hours a day in daily commutation from home to the city .but my parents are not allowing me to stay there only.its exhausting and tiring traveling by public transport to city to such a remote area what should i do ill will be nowhere if i live here .if they will let me live there i could work hard for my career prepare for higher studies ive talked many times on this topic but they are reluctant .presently iam pusuing ba in mass communication.i unable to see a way out plz suggest

    • Hi bindiya,

      There are always options, but none of them are easy. You can try be more insistent with your parents and risk having them get very angry with you. Or you can risk just moving out and hoping that they’ll eventually come around and support you.

      Like I said, no either options. Whatever you decide to do, it will take a good deal of courage. I wish you well.

  41. Hey,

    I feel my mind almost pushed over that boundary where I can’t stand the life I’m living. My parents always wanted me to be an engineer – they didn’t state it as an ultimatum or a demand but always encouraged me in that direction and disrespected the things I did with passion.
    Long story short – I’m a left handed person, artistic in nature. Not stating that just because it’s a “known fact”, I had a rock band for 8 years in which I’ve always been the “creative mind”. My parents never came to see me at any of my gigs with the band. When I moved to another city (to study engineering) my mom even tried to forbid me to take my guitar there.

    To confirm my different nature – I’m extremely interested in arts. When I was young art teachers and other children told me I had a talent for that but I kind of let it go for years. Recently (about 2-3 years ago) I rediscovered my passion for drawing and I know for sure this is what I want to do in life. Waiting for the summer vacation to come just so I have all the time to practice my passion because I’m exhausted from all the engineering studies.

    Oh by the way – I’m a straight A engineering student – the absolute top of the class and it’s killing me even more, because I’m investing extreme amount of energy to be the best in something I don’t actually like. Energy I can put to better use.

    I have only 1 year left before I get a collage diploma that I don’t want. From the 2nd semester in collage I’ve had doubts that have now grown into convictions. Needless to say – my mom and dad will not only be crushed – they will think I’m going insane for letting go engineering for arts, because in their head art is not something a man could make a living out of.

    How can I fight the guilt feeling for throwing away this education that costed my parents so much? Everything would’ve been so easy if I knew myself 10 years ago.

    • Hi Dimo,

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      “How can I fight the guilt feeling for throwing away this education that costed my parents so much?”

      I don’t think you’re throwing it away. Think of it as the price of figuring out what you really want to do with your life. That’s pretty valuable I would say.

    • Hey Dimo,

      I’m in the same situation as you. Going to enter my 3rd year of electrical engineering this fall and barely have it in me anymore. Every time I talk about changing to a different major my dad will sit down with me and tell me how much an engineering degree will matter and how successful I’ll be. That everyone will respect me and listen to what I have to say. You will be a girl in electrical engineering, this is valuable beyond belief. Why would you be like all these other nobody girls and get a BA in the arts? Stay in engineering he says, you will be successful he says.

      I want to be an industrial designer. But not any designer, I want to be the best. I want to have a job environment that’s seeping with creativity. But this doesn’t pay the bills he says. “Contrary to popular belief money does equate to happiness”.

  42. Hey, I have a question I hope you can help me with.
    I am 20 years old, still living with my parents and little brother and sister, and am happy to be doing so.
    I am an unpublished writer. I have written three novels and am more than half-way done with my fourth. I finished my first one over 3 years ago.
    My mother does not want me to publish it till she reads it (And I also would like her opinion on the story and help with the grammar). More so, I feel she should read it before a lot of other people because, hey, she’s my mother.
    But after all this time, we are on page 83 out of 335.
    I do not bad mouth my mother. She is the hardest working person I know. Too disappear, all she has to do it sit on the couch as none of us children or Dad will see her, because she so very rarely rests.
    But I want to get the ball rolling. I want to be a full-time writer. But even if my first book was that one in a million success, then I would still have to wait around 2 years before I could even quit my job and write full-time!
    And since my first will NOT be a run-away success, I figure I will have to publish stuff for a good 10+ years before I am able to write full-time, if I am EVER able to do so.
    I really am stuck between hurting the person who gave me life, and I know it will if I try to publish without her, and trying to do what I want to do the rest of my life.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Hi Andrew
      You do not want to hurt your mother but you let her hurt you by blocking your book publishing? That doesn’t make sense. An idea could be that you talk to your mother and explain about the urge you feel to move on and how important it is for you. You can even dedicate the book to her.
      But in general she does not need to understand you, she can feel hurted, but in fact she is hurting you right now with holding you back in such a way. You are 20 years old, you can move on your own and still respect and love your mother.

    • Hi Andrew,

      For the last 12 years I’ve worked as a copyeditor, writer and publisher (in Spanish, so please forgive my wonky English!). You might not like what I’m going to say…

      You’re 20. Some of the most succesful writers I know wrote fifteen books or more before even getting close to publishing. Great books are written a lot later in life, when you’ve had years and years of practice and experience. Don’t worry about publishing yet. Focus on your craft, write every day. If your mother can’t read your text as fast as you’d like her to (and it sounds like she really has very little spare time), get friends and other members of your family to help you. Consider getting a degree in English or other related areas. Try and get a job in the publishing or journalism industry (whether freelancing or a 9-to-5 job), anything where you can support yourself financially and hone your craft, and study your language like crazy: it’s your greatest tool. Never stop writing. Finally, when you’ve learnt enough, try to get published.

      Your writing will improve SO much over the years. No matter how good you are now, in ten years time you’ll be so much better. I’ve known so many cases of people under 25 publishing and regretting it afterwards, seeing their own work as inmature and mediocre. Even the ones who wrote fifteen novels before getting published are horribly embarrassed by the 16th one that made it ;)

      I don’t know if this is the kind of advice you were looking for… I just felt I had to share it with you because yours is a case I see over and over again. Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck :)

      • Thanks everyone for your comments. I have no idea what I will do yet, but I will take time to consider each of your comments.

        Also Niall, thanks for the link to FaceBook!

  43. this post hit home, i am a single mother of 2 kids aged 42 and live with my parents. i live in india so it is not easy, btw i am not even divorced yet because my father thinks it has a moral impact on kids! so you can imagine. all this while my sister had a live in relationship with her boyfriend of over 10 years but then she lives in australia so the parents have no control over her. i hate my parents for what they have done specially because it is too late for me to change the course of my life. my children need money to go to school, live, etc and so i cannot think of doing anything out of the way. they also need my parents’ support. btw, i marreid my ex because i wanted to get away from my parents it was that simple, he was allowing me to do things my parents were not like quitting the course i was doing at that time, etc. turned out he was emotionally abusing me all along (some physical too) but then i could not come back to my parents because they had developed a we wont talk to you because u married the jerk attitude (i eloped btw). so now this crap has transcended a generation and here are 2 innocent fatheress kids because i was stupid enough to wan to please my parnets who would never have been pleased enough with me anyways. my sister is a star in theri eyes and they allowed her total freedom on her career choices, relationship choices, etc and look where she is. she is in a job she loves and so she excels at it, has a wonderful partner and is generally happy. i try telling myself i have to forgive my parents but then when i see them gloating over my sister it makes me remember the unfairness of it all. Anyways, what I tell my kids is really just 2 things:

    Do what you want to do, really I say that to them each day without fail.
    If you screw up please please do come back to me and tell me that you have, my heart and home is always open to you (unlike my parents who closed their hearts and home to me which is why i ended up spending 12 years of my life with my miserable marriage).

    So, yes in the end I screwed up both by not using my brain and doing what I like when I was younger and also then doing something stupid like marrying a no gooder to get away from my parents. Hope this post is not too sad to be online.

  44. Niall,
    I’m 13.
    My dream has been to be a designer/artist ever since I could remember. Unfortunately, my parents never really agreed with my ambition. Every time I talk about it, they would tell me, “What good is it to be that? Accountants make much more money!”
    Honestly, I don’t really care about earning a lot of money. I just want to live a life where I don’t dread going to work.
    I’m planning to audition to an arts school next year without the knowledge of my parents. I’ve been skipping meals just to save up money. Since in my country, they hire 14 year olds, I’m also planning to work on holidays and maybe weekends next year.
    But sometimes when I think about the sacrifices I’ve got to make, and that the outcome might not be very desirable, I begin to rethink my decision. Will it be worth it to sacrifice all this luxury of rest but have my parents potentially disown me? What if I don’t make it? What if I’m just in delusion that I am a good artist?
    Sometimes I get really depressed.
    But this is my dream. I don’t want to sit in an office all day, doing nothing but numbers. Nor do I want to be a doctor. I don’t want everyday to be a routine.
    I know this lot might be a bunch of bull that a 13 year old says but I am very confused and hurt by the lack of support and security my parents provide.

  45. Niall, my name is Chris. I am 20, turning 21 in 20 days. I am currently living in Canada. my dad wants me out in a year from now and I want to move all the way down to Australia but my mom is very protective of me. i’m scared as hell about telling her. i’m fearing a very bad reaction from her. however, after reading your blog last night, it has helped me prepare myself mentally for telling my mom about my wanting to move to Australia. I just don’t know HOW to tell her. I was originally planning to just take off and leave a note for them so they would know that way about where I would be heading but my cousin talked me out of that route. I know i’m eventually going to have to tell my parents about my wanting to move to Australia. I’m not really all that scared at all about telling my dad cuz I know he will support any decision I make 100% but my mom is a different story. As much as i’m scared as hell about telling her, i’m doing my best to keep my chin up and to keep a positive attitude going at all times. I’m also determined to go through with moving regardless of what my mom says about my decision. I would appreciate any advice you can give me about telling my mom about my decision. Thank you very much Niall

  46. Hi, I’m 18 years old now and my parents keep treating me like a child. I really.want to talk to them about it but I feel like they will think that I don’t want to listen to them anymore or I disrespect them. I think its time for me to start making my own decisions and choices. What can I do?

  47. Hi Niall. I’ve been having a little trouble with my parents lately…I’m a competitive swimmer, well, used to be. I decided that I didn’t want to swim anymore. My heart didn’t belong to swimming. I finally told my parents that I wanted to quit. They let me but, after a month, they thought I should go back. I didn’t want to. There making me swim again and I just can’t bring myself to enjoy it once more. I’ve tried talking to them many times but they just won’t listen. I want them to understand that swimming isn’t really something I’d want to take into the future. They’ve always said that they’d support me but when it comes to the point where I make a decision that could possibly alter my future, it’s like they forgot everything they said.

    I want to follow my dreams in Performing Arts. I’ve always wanted to be an actress/singer but I can’t do it without their support. I’d sometimes think that there’s no use and that I should just give up on my dream because it’s too hard but the thing is, I don’t want to. I’m determined to make it happen. If it doesn’t work out, I have a Plan B in school. I just don’t know what to do…I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t want to have to obey them because I know, I WILL regret it in the future. I don’t want to have to think to myself in the future and say that I shouldn’t have obeyed them. That I should have done what I wanted to do. I want to enjoy my life. I want to make a good use of it….

    • Hi Chloe,

      That really sucks. Sorry you have to go through that.

      I’m not sure what the solution is. If you can, try reach out to others who have had similar struggles in the past and ask how they handled it. Perhaps some of the people you’ve already met in the performing arts world will be able to relate.

      Another option may be to spend time writing a letter to your parents, spelling out exactly how you feel. That might be more effective than a conversation since it sounds like they won’t let you make your case when you talk.

      Let me know how it goes for you. Wishing you all the best.

  48. I’m glad that you acknowledge in this article that some people have genuine reasons why they can’t do what they want to do.

    In the liberal West, so many people are obsessed with the “YOLO” lifestyle, doing what they want and not thinking about the consequences.

    Whereas outside the West, there are many other constraints such as not shaming the family, looking after the family in old age (many parents don’t save a bean and expect the kids to provide for them).

    I’m not saying this is exclusive to the West and non-West, as the other comments show there are also exceptions to this.

  49. Hi all,

    First let me tell you about myself. I’m an Indonesian Muslim male in his mid-20s. I grew up in Australia ever since 1997 and went to the states for my study. The study was only a yearlong. Over there I met the love of my life (latina) and she is the perfect person, at least in my eyes.

    I flew back after completing my studies to Indonesia as my sister’s wedding was coming up. Since I started college I have been telling my mom (mostly) and dad that I don’t want to work in Indonesia yet. I want to work in Australia (I’m a permanent residence in Australia so visa is not an issue) for a couple of years so that I can gain more experience. When I told both of my parents about that they flat out refused. We had some arguments but my dad told me that to think it over the next couple of days but if I stick with my plan then I know what the consequences would be. He is basically saying that my family will disown me. Initially I thought my sisters are supporting me that deep down they are not.

    After a few days my parents found out about my girlfriend and flat out refused me having a relationship with her on the grounds of different culture, different religion, and different age. My girlfriend happens to be 6 years older than me. I initially was going to think it over on when I want to leave for Australia, at least to give it a week or two before making the decision and telling my parents about it. Soon after they found out about her, my dad confiscated my passport in which limits my movements.

    Right now I don’t know what to do. I was going to visit my girlfriend in South America during new years to spend some time with her and she was really looking forward to that. Now I have no passport to travel internationally as my dad took my passport away which pissed me off and now I am seriously thinking of leaving once I acquire my passport back.

    My dad even said before taking my passport away that if you want to leave then leave. All of sudden he took my passport. He also said that he would hunt me down if I dared to leave. Everything he said is contradictory to everything else he said earlier. I can’t acquire a new passport as that would take too long and near impossible. Also, I’ve tried talking to them and the chances of them saying yes is 0.0000001%.

    I really need advice on what should I do next. Basically I feel like I’m in prison.

    Just letting people know that I can’t make a new passport. As it requires documentation first from the police saying that I’ve lost my passport, then I have to take that document to immigration plus I need to bring my national ID, driver’s license, and family card in which all of them are being held by my dad. That process also takes plenty of time.

    Another problem is that I don’t want to report it to the police that my dad is holding my passport as it creates a bad image. He is very well respected government official in Indonesia and he also holds a very high position in the government. Right below the minister. If I report that to the police, the impact will be devastating in terms of his professional career and image.

  50. After reading through some of the comments, I realise that my situation is not so bad but it’s still a problem for me nonetheless. You see, I’m 15 years old right now and am applying to colleges. Throughout all my studies, I perform above average and always get at least an A in every subject, mostly A*. However I am not interested in the subjects I’m learning at all, I just do it because I know that it will be useful and I basically am forced to do it. I am definitely not the smartest though, I work hard but I get easily distracted and my parents are not on good terms with me because of that.

    Both my sisters are extremely successful and are working for large companies right now. One is an actuary, married and content with her life. The other is an analyst, working to rise through the ranks. My parents view them both as extremely successful and constantly compare them with myself. I always end up feeling dejected after they said things that really hurt my feelings. I also have said things that I don’t mean, but it seems like my parents won’t empathise with me.

    So basically, I am a lot more interested in doing filmmaking as I absolutely love filming and writing stories. However, they keep telling me that my sisters also didn’t do what they like, but afterwards learnt to enjoy their job. This made me skeptical. So right now, I don’t even know what I want to become. I don’t want to disappoint my parents because I love them and I know that they put a lot of time and effort into me. I also know that they became extremely stressed because I procrastinated a lot. But what they want me to do does not interest me currently and now I am very confused with what I want to be when I grow up.

    So far from the advice of my friends, to the things that I’ve read, they all encouraged me to do what I want but what I decided was this. I am going to do what my parents want me to do, even if I don’t enjoy it, until I get a firm job and my circumstances are stable. I will then only pursue my dreams but I’m afraid that it will be too late and my job will be too consuming thus not allowing me to do that.

    I realise that this is just one of many teenage dilemmas and understand if people won’t reply, but if you do, thank you so much. I seriously don’t know what I’m gonna do.

    • Hi UZ,

      Thanks for the comment. Your plan sounds reasonable, and I don’t think you need to worry about it being too late to pursue your dream later. It would be great if you could pursue it now, but if the pressure is too great from your parents and you don’t want to upset them, then you may not have a choice.

      One book that may help you is So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. He notes in there that people do tend to enjoy that which they become good at, so you may end up enjoying the path your parents want you to take.

      That said, try to keep moving closer to your dreams at the same time. Who’s to say you can’t practice filmmaking on the side and become skilled at that, perhaps to the point where you can get some good work making films?

  51. Hi Niall…I stumbled across this post in a fit anger, frustration, and tears, and I’m going out on a limb by commenting. Bear with me, this could get ugly.

    I am 21 years old, just started my third year of college (I have my Associate’s and went straight for my Bachelor’s) but here’s the problem…I don’t want to be here. It’s not that I hate school or anything…I just have no sense of direction.

    Backstory: I’ve always been the “smartest” in my family, 4.0 avg up through high school,gifted at everything I touched, all that bullshit. My parents had high expectations. But as a child, I was…different. I didn’t fit in–my hobbies, interests, the things I talked about and how I spoke, my beliefs…even now, I’m always “wrong” and “rebellious” and they find it fun to tease me on several occasions. Back to the story, fast forward to high school, my parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce. My father was doing everything in his power to make things impossible and my mother was trying to hold us together. Graduation time comes, and I decide: I don’t want my father there. She tells me to let him come, and I do because she insists on it. He comes, acts like the worthless sack of shit I knew he was, and tries to start a fight with my mother’s fiance.

    I go away to college a few hours away and the divorce is still an issue and my father is still harassing me. I made a reckless decision and ended up coming home as a result. It wasn’t until now that my mother acknowledged me when I said I wanted to see a therapist about how the divorce and my childhood in general were affecting me. After a few weeks with someone who I couldn’t imagine actually went to school for psychology…I just opted to work it out on my own.

    The following summer, my mother’s fiance (technically my stepdad–he was the reason I was able to finish the last three years of high school after my father ditched) died in a hospital due to negligence following an accident. I was due to return to school, but needed surgery of my own and decided to stay home. My mother needed me. My stepdad was her love from 25 years ago and they found each other again, so his death hit her hard. I took over the head of household status. She stopped working, eating, getting out of bed, etc, so I made sure everything at home continued and I made sure SHE made it through. But it hit me hard too, to lose someone I though I could accept as family, who didn’t judge me for ANYTHING I did.

    A year after his death, I made it back to school. I studied liberal arts because I’d managed to change my plans three times since my first endeavor to go to college. I just wanted to make sure I was doing something. Or rather, my mother did. I graduated, and now I’m in school again. My mother swears on her life that no decision I make is a good one. She insists that I have no decent human beings for friends, my boyfriend is a nobody because he opted out of the college thing as well, and I will be a nobody because I prefer to play games/write stories/read instead of going shopping, and partying, and all that crap.

    I am an introvert, I’m very creative (or was until my brain stopped working right…), very intelligent, and talented. But I have no sense of direction right now. I need ME time. I need to figure out where the hell my life is going, or at least have a chance to just go with the flow and do what feels right. But she won’t let me. If I’m not in college and doing all the things SHE wants, I’m wrong. She thinks that I am just antisocial, negative, and lazy, with plans to go nowhere in life.

    I’m considering just dropping out and acting on my own decisions. I feel like it would help but I’m terrified of going against her. I’ve never gone against her with ANYTHING. But I feel like it’s the right thing to do. My boyfriend had told me time and again that he will support ANY decision I make, and help me through, and that makes me feel better but I’m still afraid. Any advice? I could use some words of encouragement to remind me that the world doesn’t end when my mother is angry with me…and that making mistakes (if this, indeed, is a mistake)is a part of life.

    Help. Please…

    • Wow, Danielle. You’ve had a rough ride.

      I know it’s easier said than done, but try to ignore the negativity from your mother. That’s her shit, not yours. No matter what you do she’s probably going to have something negative to say.

      Something that popped into my mind while reading your comment was Byron Katie and The Work. Check out this video, and have a read of her book Loving What Is. It’s not easy stuff to work on and implement, but it seems pretty damn powerful. In essence, if you can’t change your mother’s behavior (and nobody can really change the behavior of another person), you have to change your own thinking. It’s either that or misery.

  52. The common scenario (and based on some of the comments above): Parents wanting their children to be doctors, lawyers, etc. Children aspiring to have a different career path. Me, on the other hand, is experiencing the exact opposite. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But I never get the full support of my parents. My mom always tell me to consider the financial aspect (med school is really, really expensive).

    So, instead of pursuing med after graduation, I worked in a research institution for 2.5 years, then studied abroad for my MS with the help of a scholarship. I was considering to continue for a PhD degree but I know in my heart that I want to become a doctor.

    I am currently working in a job that is stressing me out day after day after day. I’m not happy anymore and the thought of studying med even though I maybe 5 years late already is still here in my head. I still feel that I need to take a shot at my dream. So in two months, I’m planning to take the medical admission exam and hopefully reach my target score. And we’ll see what will happen next. I’m also hoping to get into my dream school + a scholarhip. I think that now is the time to really stand up for my dream! =)

    Great post, by the way. This is exactly what I need right now.

  53. How do you do this at 41? I’ve spent almost 20 years teaching and I have traveled I guess more than the average person. Someday, you have to stop don’t you? My story is a bit more complicated and not one I care to share here but I have to say I regret so much of what I have done in the name of pleasing everyone. My father now has Parkinsons Disease. My mother has my brother who “visits” once a week. My sister lives in Rome and I truly feel stuck. In my twenties when people asked me what I wanted to do all I said was “sel watermelon on the beach, I had no clue. I have been in debt and have fear, fear of leaving that “secure” job and place which truly have gotten me nowhere. But, I am more afraid of marching like everyone else to the funeral hymn of my dreams … As I said there is more complication and it may seem like excuses but it is real. I feel I would need a job and I have several blogs that do not talk about travel but other things. However, working a full time job restricts one on how much they can do.. Any advice would be helpful. And yes, it may sound negative this post but it is right now my reality which I want to change.. no NEED to change.

  54. hiya…
    I have a problem, I’m going to college for the next schooling year, and I need to start applying soon, I know which college I’d like to go to, and it’s the one I’ve wanted to go to for a while now.. It’s got lots of good reviews and the open day is coming up in October.

    Thing is, the college is near my dad’s house, and I live with my mum… My dad and her don’t get along at all, and I brought it up in conversation the other day, and my mum told me there’s no way I’m going to live with him for college, I even tried to comprimise with her by saying I could stay there for the week and come back for the weekend, but she’s not having it….

    I’ve no idea what to do now, I’ve explained all the reasons I need to go there and it’s the only college I really want to go to, but she just doesn’t listen

    Pleasee help

  55. Well vishnu you are right about medical field but in India there’s one more thing called Engineering!You are either an Engineer or a Medic, if not then you are nothing :-) And the problem is I don’t want to be either instead the best part is that I want to live just a wanderer’s life. And the best method to stop their kids that Indian parents use is the “emotional blackmailing” method that makes you feel guilty of your decision :D

  56. I’m smiling because I was wondering how tragic life can be sometimes, “neither here nor there situation” either way you are the one who is going to get his a** kicked and you can’t do anything about it except smile at your own pathetic situation.

  57. Ive always wanted to be an actress and model but my parents think those are not very good jobs and are being rude and cruel being mean and saying cruel words and they want me to be a doctor or lawyer but i cant actually become these thing without them on the same page as me because I’m a minor. Please help me how can i convince them they are very simple a strict african parents and i am a very fun and loud person. P.S we do fight a lot but they treat me like shit and never listen to me and my uncle and aunt think I’m crazy but its something I’m passionate about.

  58. I wanted game design as my career, but my parents don’t want it because they don’t want me to play games all day long. Instead, they wanted me to go for Mechatronics, thinking that I’d be good in it and because it has a bright prospect… that’s not what I want, but I had to go along with it because I had to make them happy.

    Yes, I love my family, but now I probably won’t miss them when they’re gone.

  59. Niall, great article. I’ve been dealing with this situation for a couple of years and this article has finally made me understand why my parents don’t believe in my dreams. I’m 18 years old and my dream has always been becoming a Major League baseball player. Year after year my parents have doubted my abilities telling me to focus on getting a real job and as a result there is always tension between us. Now I’m playing college baseball and getting closer to my dreams than ever before and this article has added more inspiration. Maybe someday I can make them believe. Thank you

  60. This took a huge weight off my shoulders when it comes to my worries about my parents. I’m actually rather young. I’m 17 and still in high school. I was getting terrible grades my first two years because i had no drive or dream to follow. Until i had found i wanted to pursue a career in Music Therapy. I was thrilled and my grades went from D’s to A’s. I’m so happy that i finally found a direction in life, so i told my parents. I was shot down the moment i mentioned it. Saying it was no better than a dream to become the next rock star or famous singer. They want me to follow in my brothers foot steps, who became a lawyer. It’s hard watching everyone support my brother and feel so proud of his accomplishments, while i get shunned for going after my passion simply because it is not in the norm of everyday conversation. I’m heartbroken, but i suppose even if she is sometimes wrong, the best advice my mom ever gave me is it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Otherwise you won’t do anything.

  61. Thanks for this post. This goes on my bookmarks for those days I need the encouragement (since little to none is coming from my blood relatives). I have a mother who literally has a nervous breakdown when I do something unconventional. I’m a naturally unconventional person, so I spend my life walking on eggshells for fear that she’ll have one of her classic fits where she refuses to leave bed even to go to work. She just lets things get to her that badly. When this happens my father has to step in and plead with me to follow her wishes. Not wanting to create a family war, I pretend to fold and then go through life lying to their faces (case in point, they still technically think I’m a Christian). This has happened three times, plus countless times I’ve avoided by doing things like having a traditional wedding against my wishes. Anyone worth their salt in life has told me to force her to adapt or die, but I think what will happen is she’ll do herself medical damage or leave bed finally to nag me constantly. What’s resulted now is they see fake me while verbally bashing people in society who resemble real me. I leave angry hoping they move far away after they retire. But now my mother is dropping strange comments about having to care for them in old age and that I better have kids while they can enjoy them. Not sure i even want kids, really don’t want them if it means seeing my family more. Also don’t know how I’ll be able to care for such toxic people… I guess the point to all this is even if it makes you into a liar, being your own person is the only way you can look into mirror. They can try to throw all their personal issues they want, but YOU live with your choices. I spent years trying to be the perfect right wing traditionalist they want, but reality has a way of sneaking up on you in 1,000 little ways everyday until you have no choice but to be you.

  62. thx for the story it was amazing
    BUT
    there is one problem
    what if your parents resisted you even if you have explained to them that your dream is something good?
    i mean when you think that you should help others but your parents think that to have a happy life for yourself is better?
    i explained to them alot of times but they don’t understand so… dream or parents?

  63. thank you for this post , i will read it everytime i need encouragement .
    my story is a little more complicated than you might think though ,but i would really appreciate if you gave me advice maybe ..
    my parents are originally lebanese , my dad having moved to canada at 18 , my mom following him shortly after. anyway , im born in canada and i lived in montreal for 12 years before moving to lebanon with my mom and my younger brother and sister (for 2 years) while my dad worked in the emirates. we then moved to the emirates for 2 years and now we live in lebnanon again because my dad is now living in africa. next year i’ll be going to university , i really want to go to my dream university (mcguill) located in montreal , but my parents refuse to even listen to me talk about this subject . they want to force me to study in lebanon , although they will live in africa , which has me wondering that the reason they’re not letting me go isn’t distance since i’ll already be away from them no matter what.the issue isn’t finances because being a canadian , my fees at canadian universities are very low. the issue also can’t be that they’re afraid of me going to a place i’ve never known because i know canada alot , with all my close friends and their families living very near to mcguill. the issue can’t be the cost of flight tickets because its the same from africa to lebanon and from africa to canada. the only thing is that my relatives are in lebanon and would be living 2 hours away from me if i go to a lebanese university so i would be able to see them from a couple of days every month not tat it would make much of a difference, i hate it here and i have so many more logical explanations to why they should let me go but frankly i think i bored you with my nonstop talking…. im very confused and i dont want to wait 4 or more years to go live in canada , please help me (also i am very mature and responsible .. i dont know what else could be wrong)

  64. I studied design for 6 years (bachelors in architecture for 5 years, and a masters in product design that took one year) and have discovered it is not my passion. I hoped it would get better when I applied for my masters abroad, it didn’t. It doesn’t make me ‘unhappy’ but it definitely doesn’t make me thrive.
    I want to work FOR my country, work for the social betterment of my people, and my parents say ‘why do you want to waste your education?’.
    I’m so stressed these days because of these conversations. They will never stop me or anything, but I wish I had more of their support :(

  65. - I have been having this problem for the longest.I’m 21 yrs old and never even worked,and it’s driving me insane.My parents bickered about what I wnated to go to college for so I picked a random degree to shu them up.mMy mom is doing creepy suff like holding out on my birth certifcate which is preventing me from getting a state id.They took all my financial aid money to pay bills or bs with and I can’t get a measly $12 to get a state id ,not o mention waking me up at night for foolishness.I get blamed for crap I didn’t do and I get the short end of the stick because my dad is misogynistic and my mom is indifferent.I want to be a writer ,but I have been very much discouraged form it.

    -Whenever I mention getting aqjob,there’s aproblem; my mother is on foodstamps and they take more out whenever one of us gets income and the rent may go up.I am tired of being useless and livuing my life on standstill.If sojmeone canhelp me out I would highly appreciate it.I am stuck right now and I have to get out of here,I am tired of eatingout of their hands.I didn’t even get allowance until I was ;ike nineteen,which my dad would always take away because he keeps asking us to order food or buy stuff off of him as a slick way to get the money back.He degrades me all the time as a human being and because my parents (and myself) are obese,there are always food arguments ,usually because he wants to eat gargantuan amounts of food instead of eat like a normal person and there isn’t enough.He goes into fits and all kinds of madness and I can’t deal with this anymore.Not to mention I can’t even go anywhere,I never could.There are days when I feel like I would rather be homeless than put up with the shit…I’m sorry for the rant but I seriously need help.If anyone has any advice,can they please offer it? Thank you

  66. Hi Niall, I wish I had found this post before so I could not feel so blamed..

    I’m from Brazil and I’m 20 years old. I’ve been studying for 3 years to go to a medical university. My dream is to be a doctor but in a institution that I can feel proud of.

    I finally got it, I’m in the first semester of med school in a university at the same city my parents live. The problem is that I came here forced by my parents, what I really wanted is to study med in university in the city I’ve been living the last 3 years, in the capital. Last year I almost was approved just didn’t get it for 0,2. ( two tenths)

    My parents agreed me to keep studying for the place I wanted but only after many and many crying and suffering.
    The problem now is that I’m feeling guilty!!!

    I’m feeling awful becausee I want something away from home and away from them. Obviously,living in the city I want to live there will not be the same comfort I have here so I’m afraid I can get upset in the future if everything I dreamed of is not so good as I imagined…

    On the other hand I’m hating this university I’m in… I don’t feel stimulated, so I keep studying and applying for others. My entrace exam will be next weekend and I hope everything goes fine.

    I’m sorry for my english….

  67. Our parents are the people we first emulate. They teach us how to talk to others and ourselves; they become a part of us- that kind of bond is not something that many people can just disregard even if it’s not a healthy bond. My father was extremely controlling and verbally/emotionally/physically abusive. I don’t know when it began, but before the age of about 9 or 10, I was drawing every day. Even today I get relatives asking why I did not pursue training for my natural talent- nobody can understand why such a bright little girl turned into a brooding, listless- and seemingly lazy- mess. Even though I am almost 25 now, his insidious words have become how I talk to myself in my head- it’s like I’m carrying around a 250 pound man on my back at all times. I actually began to believe that I would never get anywhere because I heard it every day. I haven’t drawn or created anything in years, I have no friends, and I work at a fast-food restaurant even though I have brains and talent. I live in constant anxiety.

    I guess my point is that sometimes you need professional help to move forward in life and undo the damage that has been done to your way of thinking by abusive parents (and I consider any kind of parental oppression abusive), because it is never as simple as mere forgiveness. Forgiveness is necessary but it is definitely not the first step and it is not easy. Sometimes it’s impossible.

    I appreciate that you wrote a disclaimer saying that you have not experienced this kind of oppression. I hope your article can nudge some people onto the path of healing, but I don’t think it can do much more.

  68. Hi Niall,

    Thanks for the post. I completely agree with the reasoning, but there are always situations that are not like the others. I have one of those.

    I love travelling and do it a lot, but I am yearning to leave Canada for good and move to Europe. However, years ago, my mom decided to take in her mentally ill brother and take care of him, which is getting more strenuous as she can’t even leave him alone for more than a day. To top it off, she just broke up with her boyfriend of 10 years. Basically, besides my brother who lives alone, and can’t be counted upon, I am the only one that can stay home with my uncle if she ever goes away. She can’t hire help because he doesn’t respond well to new people.. So it is literally a Catch 22. If I move to Europe, she won’t even be able to come and see me and I will feel heartbroken that I have done this to her.

    Now I just feel trapped and resentful. Which sucks as I am only 28 years old. I know there is no easy way out and I love my mom too much to let her suffer, but what about me?

    I envy the people that have parents with no problems. Single parents, married parents, doesn’t matter. If my mom was alone, I would leave in a heartbeat.

    Any advice you can give me would help:) Thanks

  69. Hey Niall,

    Thank you for such an amazing post. It’s just want I needed in this moment. Seem I have being going thought this situation:

    I am from Colombia and I went on an exchange program to United States almost three years ago, I stayed there for one year and just a few months before I came back home I met this guy. We fall in love and we decided to keep our relationship long distance and try to see each other as many times as we could. So I have being going to the US every time I have vacations from college. My boyfriend hasn’t come to meet my country because he’s scare if how dangerous the news make my country look. So now, my parents are putting a lot of pressure on me, not letting me go to visit him. It’s just that I think I’m old enough to make my own decisions. Beside, I’m not asking my parents for money cause I have being saving to go see my boyfriend. And my mother just keep saying what a bad daughter I’m because I keep visiting my boyfriend and what a helpless person I am. And I don’t think I’m helpless cause I know my parents help me pay for my tuition but I do pay half of it. And I work and help with some of the house bills. Do it just gets me so frustrated that when I get a vacation and I want to use it to relax and see the guy I live and travel my parents are not supporting me, attacking me and not helping me out. It’s just like I like to travel and I save up just because I know that money will get me a trip when I have some free time. But my parents don’t get it, and I’m trying to tell them that I’m going cause I made my depiction but I feel so scare of how they’re going to react.

    I want to do what makes me happy and take an airplane and see my boo. But I do want to do the right thing and tell my parents I. Doing it first. I just don’t know, I hope you can help me. Thank you!!!

    I really appreciated it!

    Maria

  70. Hi, I’m a University student, and I’m struggling with my Majors’ choice. I want to take Art as my majors, but I know (from my parents, and everyone around me) that if I chose Visual and Fine Arts as a major I might not have a very good future with good income. The other Majors’ choice is Finance, which is more convenient. Has a better future with good income for me, and everyone recommends it. The problem here, is that I really hate business and anything to do with business, and I know if I chose Business as a subject I’ll end up regretting not choosing art for the rest of my life. But if I choose Art i’m afraid of not getting a decent job and ending up also regretting not making a good career and life choice. So what am I supposed to do here? Chase after my dreams, and have a “not so good” future. Or go for the better career choice, of which I hate and won’t regret much, but still will regret not chasing my dreams..

  71. Hi, I’m a University student, and I’m struggling with my Majors’ choice. I want to take Art as my majors, but I know (from my parents, and everyone around me) that if I chose Visual and Fine Arts as a major I might not have a very good future with good income. The other Majors’ choice is Finance, which is more convenient. Has a better future with good income for me, and everyone recommends it. The problem here, is that I really hate business and anything to do with business, and I know if I chose Business as a subject I’ll end up regretting not choosing art for the rest of my life. But if I choose Art i’m afraid of not getting a decent job and ending up also regretting not making a good career and life choice. So what am I supposed to do here? Chase after my dreams, and have a “not so good” future. Or go for the better career choice, of which I hate and won’t regret much, but still will regret not chasing my dreams..

    • I think you should study what you are passionate about. At the end of the day, its your life. I’m currently studying accounting and corporate finance also, and want to change into physiotherapy as I love the idea of being able to incorporate health & fitness into a career. But my parents are strongly against it as they think i’ll lose all the progress i’ve made. But, at the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck doing something for the next 30 years which you do not enjoy. Money isn’t everything. Sure, it could buy material items but it can never buy happiness. Happiness comes from loving what you do, and loving who you are as a person. Life is too short. Follow your dreams. If it doesn’t work out, at least you know you’ve tried and you will have nothing to regret. You can always go back and study finance.

  72. Wow I can totally relate to this right now. I’m currently 2/3 through my accounting degree, and have been working in an accounting firm for almost half a year now. I’m really disliking it. The thought of having to work in this field for the rest of my life stresses me out. Working has made me realise that this is not what i’m passionate about. I love health and fitness. This passion of mine has developed over the last 2 years. I really want to study physiotherapy. I love studying and learning new things, and being challenged. I think this makes you grow as a person. However, my parents think that by changing my degree, then i’m just moving backwards and just “giving up when things get hard.” It’s not that i’m finding accounting difficult at all – i’m not not as interested in it as I thought I was in highschool. I don’t know what to do. Do I put the security of having a job and finishing my degree in a years time on the line? Or do I take a risk, that I could potentially love? Life can be hard.

  73. im 33,and still at home, asked to move out a couple of times during university as i realized i may need some support in the process.mum said no and bought me a car to commute in,money spent on trains or petrol would have coverd most of rent at the time.i live right on the edge of the city and the jobs around here are a bit rubbish.so now when ever im going out to see friends in the city and generally enjoying life, especially when there’s a girl involved , mum gets these headaches and sickness. in contrast when i had a crappy factory job with long hours and no social life and was feeling really depressed she couldn’t have been happier.

  74. I’m 20 years old and I have a very difficult choice to make at this moment. Well, I should start off by saying that my family is Vietnamese and I am the only daughter between two brothers. My mother recently opened up a nail salon. She keeps saying that she opened it for all of us so that we’d always have a place to work, but I really don’t want to work for her anymore. It makes me so unhappy and she can be very verbally abusive. Everyone that has seen the way my mom treats me says it’s wrong and I know it is. I know she also loves me very , which is really what is holding me back.

    Recently, I’ve been given an opportunity to leave and make a life for myself where I can follow my dreams and be happy for myself. It seems everything I do for my mother is never enough and I’m tired of trying to please her. I just want to be happy for myself and I don’t want to be 30 years old and look back and resent my parents. I know they might never forgive me, but I want so badly to be happy. I guess I’v just been looking for a sign or some advice from someone that knows what I’m going through.

  75. I’m 14 and this might go a bit off topic but it does have to do a tinsy-winsy bit with this topic. I’m Asian and always living up to my parents’ expectation. They push me to be top in class, go for piano lessons, take up swimming, be the best debater in school, head prefect, teacher’s pet, national public speaker, etc. So far, for ten years it’s been fine. But lately, I’m going off track and I’m absolutely depressed. Anyways, I’ve got two offers from two of the very best boarding schools in my country. (Let’s just name it school A and school B for the moment!) I’ve always wanted to go to school A it’s a private paying school and i’ve been dying to go there since I was eight. But then school B came in to the picture. I quite like it but it’s not what I want. My parents are forever forcing me to go to school B. No matter how much I’ve told them that I love school A, they’ve always tried to ask everyone in my family to brainwash me to go to school B. I’m depressed cause for the past ten years of my life all I’ve been doing was to get in to school A. I know all of these are especially Asian-academically-inclined, but I hope you’ll help me. I’m starting to cut and shut myself down from the world. Please. I’m need help!

  76. Hey Niall
    Ii am from India ,been an average student throughout my life so after my 12th i wantes to pursue engineering which i am after a lot of fights and crying (parents wanted mto do a bcom or se basic degree as i wasn a good stuent and dey considered atleast i shd have. Had 80-90% to get into engineering . So finally i did get into engineering and am in my 3 rd year of my study . Here i got into a relationship with aguy 4 years bak and he is 8 years elder to me . .At firsty parebts said ok and stuff. His family is preuzzing him to get married and he s waiting till my course gets over . My parents believe into looking into astrlgy and they say if this doesn matcih we wont consideand both of us dont want to run away either . I then say if this doesn materialise can i atleasr work the place of my choice ? They then say “we have fulfied tour wishes. You should fulfill youra ie : listen to us “. Wha should i do niall?
    See if i liaten to them about the astrology thing alao and listen to them abt my career too wont my life get ruined ?
    Pls advice and sorry for d typing errors

  77. Hey Niall ,
    I am from India. My mother always wanted me to become an engineer (like from when I was 5 or something) as is the trend in India today. But i don’t want to do that(I’ll be passing 10th grade in March), I want to become a lawyer , its what my gut says and that’s what my dream is. Now I have to go against her and take Up courses of Humanities(a course considered for students who don’t get enough marks , but its necessary for lawyers.) and then go to a law school. It’ll take like 7 years or so. But once I become a lawyer , I’ll give my parents all the fruits of life! :) I just need to keep the faith till then. Your post helped me a lot.

    Sahil.

  78. very nice post niall..
    im from indonesia, and ive been looking for this kind of things to inspire me.
    i have several bruises and emotionally getting abuse with my own mom. since i was a lil kid, ive been labeled as a worst daughter in our family. because i have diffrent personality. All of my decisions in life, like school, university, job , and love live, its always have to being approve by my mom.

    i once try to fight my own decisions,because finally i recognise my interest and talent in writings and singing. im writing some script for stage role and create some songs on my own.

    but when it comes to tell her,my mom yellin and swearing at me, saying shes gonna die etc. i ffels like if im pursuing my own dreams, i will end up hurting her.

    ive been living like this until im 28 rite now. and i have a job like my moms wants me too. but in the end it didnt seems enough for her. she still mentally abuse me for not getting married or as calm like other kids.

    i want to say, its all because i didnt know what im a going. i feels so hopeless. and yesterday ive blew up. i was arguing with her. and i end up hurting my self by hitting my head on the wall. it was suicidal and histerical. i dont know why i can do that things..

    i dont have any how to fix it all..
    but i read your blog..and its kinda enlightened me..
    thanks..

  79. I have always had my parents holding me back.My parents are part of the KKK and they don’t like me to be dating people outside of my race.I’m nineteen,and I’m leading my life the way I want to.

    I’m becoming a person that I won’t be ashamed of.Especially in my writing.And,I want to live the life I want to live.And,if they don’t like my writing,or the people I date,they can look away.Problem solved.
    Ciao,
    LadyLagoon

  80. Niall, you are a wonderful writer. Even back in 2011. :)

    My next step is buying your book!

    Thank you so much for being strong and sharing your strength with the rest of us.

  81. Niall,
    It’s such a relief that I am not the only one going through this. My parents don’t support my career choice which is fashion marketing/fashion design. I currently live in Florida but I got accepted to a really good university in California. I have really good grades in high school so they expect me to become an engineer or something of that nature.My boyfriend also got accepted and they hate him for no reason. They think of it as if I am running away with him. When I think of it as me chasing my dreams along with someone I love. They are also rude telling me how I am too optimistic and that I need a reality check. But I know that if I stay here and study whatever they want me to study I will be very unhappy and I know life is short, so I dont want to spend it living someone else’s life.

  82. My parents would have been happy if I stayed in the Russian village, got married and had babies like all of my classmates have done; but instead, I left the village to chase my dreams, learnt English, got my Master’s degree, traveled the world & moved to the US 6 years ago, now living in NYC; but everyone in the village including my family, still thinks I am a failure because I don’t have a husband and children and left my country. My family has never been supportive ever since I left Russia. It’s sad but I don’t even want to talk to them anymore because every time I talk to them I end up crying, and every summer I visit them, I end up leaving feeling like a loser. They think there is something wrong with me, because I’ve been different from what they are used to seeing. It’s just so hard when your family does not understand you. I love them so much, but this has really been bothering me :( I don’t know how to handle this anymore. Please advise if anyone has been in the same situation. Thank you

  83. i have posted a comment above. i guess i have read this post at the right point of my life. hope you look into my problem as being a teenager i am bound to face depressed situations. no one else seems to understand me because they are busy imagining me as a future doctor. i feel like listening to my parents as they are more experienced and i dont want to make them sad. do you think i should listen to them or to myself?

  84. I see that you answer messages so i’m just gonna try my luck here.
    I’m really frustrated with my mum. I got a D in Economics Paper, and now i have to choose a degree for University.

    She just doesn’t understand how much i hate Economics and she wants me to major in Finance.

    She laughs at my dreams and said it’s a waste of money to get a degree in marketing or entrepreneurship. (At least its a Business Degree). I don’t understand. I’ve never been so frustrated.

    I don’t want to get a degree i don’t like and be stuck in a career that i don’t enjoy.

    Why are there controlling mums in the world. What should i do.

    I’ve tried persuading her for a month.
    Do i have a choice in this.

    Thanks! Aplenty. (Lovely read by the way. )

  85. Niall , I’m came from Asia. Erm…Er…Actually I worry about a person who is very important in my life . Her parent and her sister seem to disagree the subjects that she going to study in her college . It is Culinary Arts, she has a dream to become a Big Chef and she has a lot of interest in it, but Her parent and sister seem to worry about her life and her futures , because she is going to study Culinary Art. Her parent and her sister think that Culinary Arts is a subjects that will somehow waste her time and never get a good job in future or never find a JOB in future and never long lasting . Her parent and sister have several friends that have the same dream as her but they seem to complete their study n practical on the Culinary Arts , but they never find a good job or never success to get a job in Culinary Arts . So What I think is her parent and her sister afraid that she will never get a job in future. Another reason is that , she has a Flying Color Result in the High School final exam and graduated with good result . Her parent and sister said her result was good enough to study in Medic , Sciences and other like engineer which they think will find a good job in future . She hate science and calculation although her result was good in Math and Sciences , this is not she want . She has a big dream long time ago to be a big chef , so she wanna become a chef by studying Culinary Arts. But her sister seem to strongly disagree with her in Culinary Arts instead her sister want her to study in science in the future . When I talk with her , she just yell at me that I dont know how she feel , because I can choose anything to study not like her , have no choice . I think she was very down and sad that time . Actually my parent also didnt agree what I wanna study in , cause in my family there is a FAMILY BUSINESS , mean my father is running a company , so maybe they want me to focus on that business they did instead of studying the subject that I want , cause they both are different . I wanna become a programmer , which my parent think that in society there is a lot of proffessional programmer n developer of programmer such as microsoft and apple , so they think i wont get a job or business in the future since in society , they are many professional and popular programmer , if a big company want a program or software , they will buy them form the popular one instead of me . But I fight my dream until last , and they finally accept my dream for being a programmer since before i graduate from my high school . So What i want to say is , I kinda know how she feel instead of dont know how she feel, so Im fine to be yelled by her since I love her and I know how she feel when her dream denied by her parent and sister . So Im here to look for some advice because I worry about her and I support her dream to the last . I wish to get some help from you .

  86. Niall, your article was well written and I could relate to it somewhat. Although I’m a girl and girls have it harder in life than men generally do (depending on the culture where you’re coming from). I’m from South-Asia and 23 years old. I have a bachelor’s in an IT field, although I didn’t get any motivation from my parents on my career, my heart always told me to pursue computer programming (note that when I told them I wanted to get a degree, they told me to stay at home and cook and clean… but i went and got education anyway). I then had an internship at a really good Computer/software company, and I was so happy. That was the best thing ever happened to me in my life. But my dad didn’t seem thrilled, infact he even told my mom to tell me to quit work. Telling me to quit work is like telling me to commit suicide. Some of his friends tell him that ‘ your daughter shouldn’t work’.. he’s the kind of person who listens to ‘outsiders’ instead of his own family (like his own daughter’s opinions over some random family-friends). Everyone is brainwashing him and he’s brainwashing my mom. I love my mom and she supports me (but until when? I’m sure she’ll give into his constant complaints). I’m scared because I’ve a really good job, something that I can finally be happy for. I have a few friends but I work day in and day out. Work is my life. And he wants to take that happiness away from me. That made me cry so much. Why can’t people stand seeing you happy? All the males in our community think I shouldn’t work… and my dad thinks that I should get married because marriage is the most important thing to him; over work, over eduction, over anything… I know that if I don’t follow my dreams I will be miserable, and make everyone else miserable around me if I have to. To make matters worst, the marriage in our culture is nothing like the western society, I won’t even know who the guy I’ll end up with (what if I don’t like him? what if he’s a jerk? what if I’m really not happy in the end? what if…) … I’m in a rut, follow my passion, or follow my dad’s passion? It kills me inside to know that what makes me happy is what makes him unhappy (and what will really kill me is when he managers to persuade my mother from her own notions and i won’t have anyone’s support.. ).. I don’t want to get married right now or have lots of kids (like the women in my country) .. I’ve seen so many women in our society who are unhappy (because they married the person for the hell of it – because their parents told them that it was the right thing to do and so they didn’t pursue their dreams). The men think they have all the control and power, so they over-power them, they divorce the women even if they have three kids together (what do they care?), then she’s miserable the rest of her life. No one marries her because she has three kids. Who will marry her? How will she fend for herself? She didn’t have any career… so what does she do? she runs back to her parents (those very parents who were the cause of it all) .. That part of cultural norm really needs help and should be dealt with..

  87. I have be married for nine years my husband and i where living happily and just two months ago my husband ment his ex girl friend whom he had in school days and all of a sudden he started dating her again and he never cared about his family again all he does is to stay late at night and when he come’s back he will just lie to me that he hard some fault with his car,there was this faithful day i caught the both of them in a shop,i walked to them and told the girl to stay of my husband girlfriend again,i have suffered too much in the hand of a cheating husband but and when he came home that evening he beat me up even despite the fact that i was pregnant he was just kicking and warning me to never point a finger on his affairs. thank to Dr.Osaze.malaca whom i got from a blog site after a long search for a real spell caster i was so happy that he fulfilled all what he said in just less than three days after the spell was cast they quarrelled and he broke up with the girl and his senses are fully back and he now care and love me like he have never done before and if you are their suffering from a broken marriage or your husband or ex cheats? you can email:spirituallove@hotmail. com

  88. I live nigeria in nigeria I spent 5 yrs at before I was admitted to college my parent don’t support me financially I am working and studying and it is too stressful for me am taking every responsibiliy paying my school fees. Buying my text book all my self am tired of life don’t just know what to do pls advice me.

  89. Hi everyone, I also have my story to share hoping i will also get some advise or viewpoints from people here.
    i am a 34 year old indian man, married for bit more than 6 years and have a 4 years old son.
    I lost my dad to lung cancer in 2010 while i was living in London, United Kingdom. Now we live with my mum in India.

    While It was time for me to go to High School(at the age of 16, Year 1995), after scoring 70 Percentage in my secondary school, I had to take up a course in Science Stream against my capabilities and interest because my dad wanted me to do that.

    ( Its quite common in India that parents decide your course of action right from the begining).

    Anyway so after failing 3 times(Year 1995 to 1997) in my board exams i decided to quit Science stream and persue Commerce stream.

    I told my dad about what i wanted to do. He was not happy and did not agree with me, But against all odds i stuck to my decision and studied very hard for the whole year in to commerce stream and cleared my board exams with 71 Percentage.(Year 1999)

    (but this failure put me 2 years behind from my age-group)

    I, then pursued my Bachelor of Business Administration, went through it(Year 1999-2002). After completing the same i wanted to pursue higher education abroad. I chose Australia, started the process, once again against my dad’s wish.

    I had admissions from 3 different universities, i cleared my IELTS Test with 6.5 band and was working on my visa file preparation and had to drop that plan of studying overseas.

    As my dad believed that i am not a very good student to manage my life and studies on my own. His words were : “you cant manage your life and studies while we all are here with you, and how are you gonna manage it on your own in the strange country where you dont know nobody.”
    All these took around 1 year of my life and i had to drop the plan against my wish.

    Then I took up a job with local NGO(Nov’03 to May’04).

    Around the same time i came to know about volunteering in Israel which i desperately wanted to experience. So this time I talked to my dad and convinced him, so with his consent i went to Israel for 6 months and then went to the UK after few day of my return to India.

    I kept visiting my parents in India once every 2 years. During one such visit in the end of year 2007, i got my self tied into an arrange marriage with a girl my dad chose for me, one more time with all my oppose and against my wish and i compromised thinking, “if thats what makes him happy……, i dont wana hurt him, if he will be happy, i will be happy”.

    I was wrong. Only in couple of months i started to realise that i have made the biggest mistake of my life, that i shouldn’t have done what i did, compromising all the happiness of my life. Even after 6 years of my marriage and after having 4 year old son, i still regrat for choosing the one i have chosen. Anyway so after such a marriage, i went back to the UK and she followed me to the UK after 6 months(July 2008).

    (WE ARE NOT DISCUSSING MY AILING MARRIAGE HERE, AS IT WOULD BE ALTOGETHER ANOTHER TOPIC THEN WHAT WE’R DISCUSSING HERE.)

    After about a year, in July 2009, i got phone call from my mum saying my dad is critically ill and is suffering from lung cancer, so i went to india to visit them after 1 month in Aug’09.

    Again i went to india with my pregnant wife in Nov-Dec’09 for my sister’s wedding as well as to spend time with dad. We decided to have baby in India, who was born in March and after about 7 weeks i lost my dad in May.

    I went to india in March and in May, when i lived there for 1.5 months to support my family. I went back to UK in the end of June.

    Due to the mental and physical stress I was living with for around 1 year, i was taken ill to the hospital with tuber culosis where i spent 1 week as an admitted patient.(Last week of August 2010).

    I flew back to India the next day after i was discharged from the hospital, had treatement and good rest there.

    When it was time to go back to the UK(Nov’2010), the mum insisted to fly back with the wife (so the wife can take good care of me and my health), but i didnt want that as we still needed to get the visa done for my Son who was born in India.

    But ultimately with my mum insisting and saying that she will take care of the baby, we left the Son (8 months old) with my mum and left for the UK.

    Within a week i was cought in a situation where my mum, being 58 years old and on its own, was struggling really hard with having to look after an eitht months old around the clock and with the pain of being left all alone after my dad’s loss.

    Also in the UK my wife was restless without our Son, which only added to make my physical n mental health worst. And I finally dicided to come back home for good. We came back in December’10.

    Its March 2014 now and i am still not settled in India (not mentally, not emotionally, and not at all financially). I am still struggling to make my ends meet. I cant adjust to the work culture and the socio-economic factors, the life style and the standard of living.

    I cant believe i did what I did. Settling and living abroad in a first world country like United Kingdom or any other, was the dream i dreamt of ever since i was a kid.

    But NOW AS I THINK OF GOING ABROAD AGAIN IF I DO SO…
    THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MY MIND IS MY MUM…..

    SHE IS 61 NOW…… AND TYPE II DIABITIC AND HAS CHOLESTROL PROBLEM. So the first question is who will look after her at this age? She will be all alone inspite of having so many relatives and my own 2 sisters around……

    But I ALSO DESPERATELY WANT TO PURSUE MY DREAM OF LIVING IN A BETTER COUNTRY WHERE I CAN GIVE BETTER STANDARD OF LIVING AND MUCH BETTER LIFE STYLE TO MY FAMILY (family ofcourse includes my mum if she agrees to join me whereever i go).

    But I know that she is not very positive about me going abroad again. May be she is feared of being all alone again where as she is living in the house full of her own flesh n blood. Her days are filled with all that plays n stories n talks with my son and my wife…. and if i left her to settle abroad…………..she will be all alone…..

    I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO……..!!!

  90. My mum is d influential person in my family and itz really annoying. my sister graduated 2 or 3 yrs ago n she’s going to be 22 in the next 18 days but unfortunately my parents still have a lot of influence on us and am in my second year in the university. my dad said after my sis final exams in june(she’s taking a professional course) we’re moving permanently to another state and it’s really annoying cuz itz far 4rm my skul and it’s going to seriously affect my sister because she doesn’t want to work there, all her friends are in Lagos state where we are now. i’m going to be 19 yrs in may this year. pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee how are we going to convince my parents to let us be and live our own lives or better still not to move permanently because we have houses both where we are living now and where we are moving to.