God Forbid A Teenager Changes Their Mind About Their Future

, , , , | Learning | June 18, 2020

I’m a seventeen-year-old student about to do my A levels. I’m having a career consultation with a teacher from school. For impartiality’s sake, students are assigned a teacher they do not or barely know.

Teacher: “I see that you have put medicine down as your first choice. Strange. I thought that you had previously expressed zero interest in medicine.”

Me: “Things are different now. I’m now serious about pursuing medicine.”

Teacher: “Are you sure about this? I’ve had students say they want to do medicine because their parents forced them to.”

Me: “I understand, but I will have you know that I’m committed.”

Teacher: “That’s what they all say. Are you sure this is your decision? You don’t need to follow your parents’ will, you know.”

Me: “Doesn’t matter. I will admit that my parents are involved, but I agree with their decision to pursue medicine. It makes the most sense.”

Teacher: “I see here on your entrance interview for this school that you expressed an interest in accounting. Are you sure that you are willing to change that? You don’t have to obey your parents, you know.”

Me: “Yes. I selected accounting back then as it seemed like the path of least resistance. Times have changed since then. Now, medicine is the path of least resistance.”

Teacher: “May I ask what prompted you to change your mind? And what do you mean by ‘path of least resistance’?”

Me: “I haven’t found a job I particularly like, so I’m selecting the job that I hate the least. If I enter medicine, I will be able to inherit the family clinic within a decade. Then, I just need to cruise along until retirement. No need for pain or suffering. No need to worry about losing my job or being fired. As long as I don’t mess anything up, I’ll be set for life.”

Teacher: “That seems like a superficial thing. What’s your passion in life? Are you sure you can endure all that work just for a job you don’t like?”

Me: “Sir, I now realise there’s a cultural difference at play. I’m Asian. A job for us isn’t about following our passions or doing what we want. It’s about earning money. What money we earn can be spent on our passions as hobbies.”

The teacher opens his mouth to speak.

Me: “Case in point: my oldest cousin was set up to inherit the very clinic I mentioned. He completed a full medical degree and threw that all away to pursue his passion of being a dance instructor. He was literally disowned and is now destitute. I really don’t want to be disowned.”

Teacher: “But surely you don’t want to work a job you hate? Can’t someone else inherit the clinic?”

Me: “Who else will? My older cousins already have stable jobs in different fields. My siblings lack the grades to become a doctor and my younger cousins live in different countries. I’m the last one left. It’s my duty to keep the family business going.”

Teacher: “You don’t need to listen to your family. And they’re just bluffing. They won’t disown you. Surely you don’t need to do a job you don’t have a passion for. Are there any jobs you have a passion for?”

Me: “If I had a choice, I’d laze around all day doing nothing, but I don’t have a choice. My family needs an heir and I don’t want to be disowned. And yes, they can and will disown me. I’m becoming a doctor and inheriting that clinic. No matter what.”

Teacher: “Yes, but surely we can find a job you have a passion for.”

I’m really frustrated with him.

Me: “I’ve made up my mind and nothing can change it. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. No offense, but I’m going to find another teacher for career consultation.” *Gets up to leave* “Thank you for your time, sir.”

In the end, he wrote a report that, while quoting me verbatim, twisted my words the worst way possible. It severely torpedoed my medical career. It took me three years of hard work just to overcome it and get into a medicine course at university. I’m now a medical student and have since realized I like medicine more than I ever thought I would.

I get that following one’s passions is the western way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way I want to follow. Asians have their own way, as well, but you won’t see me forcing it on others. The other teachers I spoke to were supportive of me, even if they disagreed, so how come it was so difficult for [Teacher] to do so?

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