Pride, Envy & Career Expectations

Daily Prompt: Undulate via The Daily Post

dentist-toothbrush-dental-care-hygiene-dentistry-1My cousin recently graduated from dental school. She worked hard to get to where she is, and I’m proud of her. But if I’m honest, I admit that my emotions undulate from pride to envy, the way a water bed lifts your body one moment, then sets its down the next. I’m especially jealous because her parents are incredibly proud (as they should be), which I read on a Facebook status posted by her mom.

In Filipino culture — and most Asian cultures — making your parents proud, particularly career-wise, is an important expectation. When I watch Chopped, a competitive cooking show, and there’s an Asian-American contestant, they almost always say that they’re competing to make their parents proud and to prove that they can be successful in their chosen profession. Some of the competitors admit that their parents expected more from them than “just” being a chef; this basically means following a career route that may not be of your choosing.

I was supposed to be a doctor. My parents, my mom in particular, expected this of me. I wanted to be a musician, but when I decided to quit my job at age 26, and return to school full-time to become a veterinarian, she was hopeful. Instead, I got a terminal masters degree (the highest degree you can earn in my particular field), which gave me the qualifications to be a creative writing professor. My students couldn’t call me “Dr. Natividad,” but “Professor” in front of my name still had a nice ring to it. My mom was proud. It gave her bragging rights.

Then, I had the Breakdown and couldn’t work at all — I often have trouble just leaving my house alone. How would I even get to a job? I feel unsuccessful, especially compared to my siblings.

IMG_0586I texted my dad this morning to ask him if he’s proud of me, which you can read on the screenshot. His answer is an enthusiastic yes. This gives me some validation, and I believe it to an extent. But what’s really fu@ked up is that I still want to make my mom proud, and she’s been dead for over a year! Her expectations became my own.

Have you ever felt envious of a sibling or other relative?

Did/Do your parents have expectations about your career?

Photo on Visual hunt

10 thoughts on “Pride, Envy & Career Expectations

  1. Yes, my dad bought me a typewriter when I was in highschool. I promised him, if he bought me one, I would finish hoghschool. I never did. Because of my anxiety, I dropped out. It sucks. I’m sure my dad never dwelled on it though, just me. I still think about that and he’s been gone 16 years. I know he was still proud of me because of other things I did, but it still gnaws away at me.

  2. I think most parents have some sort of expectations of their children to be successful, if not for the sake of “bragging right,” because they want their children to be happy and somehow that translates into being successful.

    I’m 63 years old and over the past year, I’ve gone through some employment reversals. Things are starting to look up again but I’m still a long way from where I was last year and am learning the ins and outs of a new industry.

    My own three adult children have had a difficult time establishing themselves and two out of three seem to be on course for the careers they want. The third has his degree but lack of experience is holding him back. Ironically, he’s the most brilliant of the three. All I really expect of them is to pursue their dreams and to be able to be independent.

    1. I’m glad things are starting to improve for you, James. And the expectations you have of your children are certainly reasonable.

  3. There was a period of time, I was envious of everyone because I didn’t want to have any mental illnesses as they were so difficult to manage and I wished I could be free of them like everyone else. I’m sure there were unspoken familial expectations, but as I’ve blossomed, the realization that my differences make me unique have created a sense of love for myself. Leaving envy and anyone’s expectations of no value and consideration to me and the way I live my life. 😀💜🎉

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