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My message to one Parker (whose parents think they’re Batmans and he is Gotham and needs to be saved).

[ 4 min read ]

A guy named Parker wanted to know how he can gain support from his parents for, as he put it, wanting to pursue a career in secondary education, when they only care that he has a “respectable” and “rewarding” job (i.e. lots of money).

I wrote my answer in which I stressed that neither their support nor their approval is necessary, and that he can allow himself to disappoint certain people (or even make them unhappy) in order to make the choice he will be satisfied with.

Then he wrote me back and said:

Lukasz, this is a new and refreshing response to this question that I appreciate. I feel better having this kind is reinforcement — that I can live my own life without worrying that I didn’t satisfy the career desires my parents had for me, and that I will be okay no matter my profession.
In reality, I think I already realized the fact I don’t need my parents’ stamp of approval. But are there any type of ways to help them see from my perspective? I can certainly see from theirs: they have had experiences that they don’t wish me to have (being let go from a job due to workplace politics); they don’t want me to struggle with money, etc. Thus, they believe that the education sector is not the ideal place to be (especially with respect to the money part).

Here’s my message to him (and many people in a similar situation), which, in a way, was also (but indirectly) a message to his parents.

Hi Parker!
Glad my answer was helpful. I’ll try to make it even more helpful.
It’s true what you said about your parents’ perspective. They’ve had certain experiences they don’t want you to have (being let go from a job due to workplace politics). They don’t want you to struggle with money. Among other things. That’s important to them.
No wonder. It’s how most parents in this world think. We could call it “normal”.
However most “normal” parents also overlook several important things.
Even if they will manage to stop you from making the mistake (or mistakes) they made, or eliminate certain undesired experiences from your life, they will never be able to guarantee that shit will not happen in your life. It will happen, because it happens in the lives of all people. So it’s never ‘this shit will be out and you’re good and neither we nor you have to worry about anything’.
Life doesn’t work that way. Not this shit, then a different one. In other words, they will never be able to prepare you for any occasion. Something will fail, break, fall apart and you will not be prepared. They can’t prepare you because we can only have so many experiences. And we never know what will happen.
Our imagination is fantastic but not when we think about future scenarios. When we think about future scenarios our imagination usually sucks. That’s something parents who don’t want to die of anxiety should understand.
Plus, something they consider a mistake not necessarily is a mistake. I mean, it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it’s a great move (under certain conditions), but because the majority views it as a mistake, we are more likely to also view this move as a mistake. It’s only a mistake because they and we view it as such. What if there is something they and we don’t see?
Choosing a career is a good example. People believe that our late teenage years and early 20s is this most crucial time in our lives because we are about to make the most important decision — choose a career. This is actually a fucked-up way to think about your life which leads many to the conclusion that since they squandered their late teenage years and early 20s they will be doomed. Which then usually becomes the reality — they’re actually doomed (because of this fucked-up mindset). A self-fulfilling prophecy. So although most would stress the importance of your late teenage years and early 20s and see squandering this time as a mistake, I see stressing the importance of your late teenage years and early 20s (and consequently completely ignoring your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s) as a way bigger mistake. Which, of course, means that I don’t care if someone squandered their late teenage years and early 20s — I don’t view it as a problem. I view ignoring your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s because you squandered your late teenage years and early 20s as a problem.
Our imagination also sucks when we think about our own or someone else’s career trajectory. We can’t predict what will happen — if we will decide that we will leave “our” profession and start something new, or what the profession or the job market will look like 5, 10, 20, or 30 years from now. Or what else could happen that will completely disrupt the current image (of the market, or of this or that profession).
It’s naive to believe we can predict it. Most people are naive, especially when they think about the future scenarios.