Growing up you could always find me drawing with my expansive crayon collection, making toy boats from fallen branches, or sculpting what I thought were play-doh masterpieces. Whatever it was, I was always getting my hands dirty in some kind of project.
When it came to picking a career path, everyone in my family did something with medicine, numbers, or law. So I also started believing that doing something creative was more of a hobby than a career. I ended up choosing Biochemistry as my major. I studied all the time, even more than my friends, and I still did worse (not that my grades were even that bad). It was discouraging mostly because I thought for all the effort I'd put in, I'd at least have some sense of fulfillment. But why would I? I was completely neglecting my right brain, my creative side. I had done such a good job convincing myself I was happy that I continued down that path for 2 years.
Luckily, I had a terrible experience that ended up being a blessing in disguise. It made me start to question whether I was smart enough, or good enough...which really sucked. It makes me sad that I thought I had to pick a career path to validate that I was smart. Smart meaning: doctor, lawyer, or engineer. But then I realized it wasn't about any of that. It was figuring out what I really wanted to do, and knowing that Biochemistry definitely wasn't it.
I called my cousin because I didn't know what to do. She told me she always thought I'd go into something like Graphic Design. Little did I know that statement would change everything. At the time, I don't think she nor I really even knew what Graphic Design was, but I had to start somewhere so I started doing research. The answer was so apparent. Graphic design is about solving problems in a smart and creative way. How perfect could this be?
The hardest thing I had to do was convince my parents to let me switch my major half way through my college career. They were not happy. My mom was mad that I'd wasted 2 years of college tuition money and my dad kept asking me if I was sure I didn't want to be a doctor. On top of that I'd have to actually apply to the selective Graphic Design program, and then reapply again two years in to officially get in and graduate with the degree. Basically, all of it could've been for nothing and I had to be willing to take the risk.
The reality is, I had no option. This was my career, my life. Did I want to wake up hating what I did everyday, or did I want to love what I was doing so much that it didn't feel like a job? Again, the answer was clear. I had to quit what I was doing before and start over. Slowly but surely my parents became more accepting. They saw me succeed and became my biggest supporters. My mom is probably my biggest Instagram stalker and always wants to know what project I'm working on next.
We owe it to our ourselves to do what we love and we owe it to our parents to put forth the effort to educate them on why. Because the truth of the matter is, if you have immigrant parents they most likely don't know all the amount of career options that exist. Hell, neither do I! But it'll be worth the fight, because it's what you'll be doing every single day. I can't wait to see the next generation of American South Asians killing it in every industry. Whether its smart designers, trusted doctors, witty copy writers, or captivating actors...we're gonna kick ass.