“Look at your hands, they’re so adorable! You know what these are the hands of? They’re the hands of… an orthopedic surgeon,” said my grandmother in Pakistan who, surprisingly, wanted me to become an orthopedic surgeon ever since I came out of the womb.
Desi (people from the South Asian subcontinent) parents have an obsession with pushing their kids to pursue a medical major. It’s engraved into our brains at an early age that if we don’t choose a medical-related career path, we’ll “become complete failures in life” and that “no one will even think to marry us,”– as if failure and marriage are things we should be concerned about as kids in the first place.
Coming from a family of doctors, it was never easy to escape my parents’ hopes and dreams of adding another doctor to the family. It almost seemed as if my mom had predetermined that she was giving birth to a medical major on April 22nd, 1999. It’s our parents’ every right to give us advice and have high hopes for us– however, it’s absolutely not their right to control every aspect of our beings to the point where our lives are their own personal utopias.
Growing up in Cary, North Carolina, a town largely populated by Desi Americans (often nicknamed “Little India”), this issue of Desi parents pressuring their children to become doctors exists in just about every household. I’ve seen some of my own friends being forced to murder their lifelong dreams of pursuing their passions just so they can satisfy their parents. This “satisfaction” is nothing but toxic. If you, as a parent, feel “satisfied” knowing your child will spend 6+ years in college studying subjects they have no genuine passion for, and 40+ years waking up every morning to a job they dread every second of, then just know that your ego and selfishness helped to kill every inch of potential your kids had in their bodies.
The mindset of “Oh! But what will Naila Aunty think when she finds out! — Oh! But what will those ten other aunties in the community who hardly know us think when they find out!” is filled with the utmost ridiculousness and will forever be the origin of Desi parents’ mindset for making any major life decisions. If Desi parents actually let go of the “what will other people think of us?” concept and instead focus on the “what does our own kid think of us?” concept, they might finally be able to understand what it feels like to stand in the shoes of someone who is forced to become the murderer of their own dreams.