Okay, first off let me provide an overview of my educational past:

Just as any kid I went through school, and then high school with an integrated prep course for getting into a top notch college in my country. I should admit, I loved my subjects (physics, chemistry, math and biology). The faculty was great. I showed a lot of enthusiasm and my then teacher appreciated it.

However, naturally at that age I had many obstacles: Peer pressure, very few friends, was bullied, and I was pretty desperate to get into the social atmosphere (The cool group, the small talk, back stabs, etc.) So, that bad habit stuck on to me (that is, always trying to pretend, so as to be accepted socially). And it has got in the way of my personal life, and behaviorally I feel like I'm really messed up in some way.

I got into the 7th best college in my country. I did not take a bridge year. I was pretty confident about getting into the Electronics and Communications branch, and I did.

I've learned a lot in college, met people with a varied persona, read a lot, and also learned that there can be a wide set of career paths one can choose nowadays.

I have varied interests that I'm good at: Art painting, murals, sketching, fashion design, stitching, singing, acting, impersonating famous scenes from movies, or people in real life (like some of my very comical faculties).

I'm now completing my 3rd year in college and I don't like it here, or at least in this branch. That said, I do like some subjects like DSP, Embedded system design, mechatronics, but I can't imagine this as my long term career! Everybody around me is talking about and praising this industry: "Oh, the amazing technology", "This wonderful company", "the internship opportunities", etc. I'm so confused, I'm just slipping into something I don't like! And I have a burning desire to try my hand at something in the arts (acting, theatre, and fashion design).

I've hinted about my displeasure with the current state of things to my parents, but I have never told them anything about my "plan" for life. My parents are overprotective of me. They feel the need to know everything about me. I am pretty open with them about most thing, but it gets annoying when I see my father's hidden dissatisfaction on my refusal to his suggestion about going to the US for MS or for MBA. In addition, when I spend my free time sketching, stitching, or graphic designing, an hour later, artfully, my parents would ask me something like: "Don't you have assignments to do", "don't you have exams in a week", or "how do your friends get 9 point grades?". Sometimes my college faculties say stuff like, "You're so good at this subject, why are your grades just mediocre?" When it comes to my career, it's up to me. I don't like anybody to push me into their version of "secure", "high-paying", but non-adventurous, and routine career.

All hell breaks loose in the house when there is a discussion about "what do you want to do in life?"

Honestly, my parents are not very happy at the thought of me going into the film industry or fashion, and I don't stand up for myself, afraid that I might fail if I go down that path, afraid in the end they were right and I would be the family example of a "ruined career" girl in the relative's gossips.

But this thing has been on my mind for too long, my grades are going up and down. I decided that I would write my GRE, go to the states, join some college. But in the meantime, experiment with my passion, and then when things are right, drop out. There would be no worry about satisfying the expectations of my parents there. I would be independent!

But then, what is the practicality of all this?

Would it be too late, keeping in mind the current state of cut-throat competition?

Would it affect my career, whatever it may be, if I take a gap year or a 6 month gap to travel alone and discover myself and my passions after college?

I've asked this question to a few people, even the college counselor, but everybody says that's a crazy idea!

What should I do ?

  • 2
    Do you have means to support yourself, and pay for travel, during the gap? May 2, 2015 at 13:31
  • no, I depend on my parents money. I've started freelancing. But don't get enough time to be at it, with my hectic schedule. May 2, 2015 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


Most people who are trying for theater or fashion careers need a "day job" that pays the rent and buys the food unless and until their preferred career takes off. For a lot of them, it is a minimum wage job. You can make it much better paid than that if you play your cards right.

I suggest concentrating on your studies until you have your degree. Look for a day job in your degree field, but in whatever city you can reach that has the best opportunities for the alternative careers you are interested in. Look for a part time film or fashion job that you can work evenings and/or weekends.

Take advantage of having a more highly paid day job to save as much money as you possibly can from the combined income. As your career advances, you may want to do things like moving to a different city without having a new day job already lined up. Having a year or so of minimal expenses in the bank would make that easier.

  • ok, but then I'd have to convince my parents about this turn in my career. How do I do it without them worrying too much about me going to a new country,new job,etc? they would even go as far as making a relative accompany me.Last week my dad was simply kidding about coming with me to do his PHd, and I shouted "NO.not in the same place as me,leave me alone !". He got hurt.How do I explain to them,my need for privacy and independence ,without hurting them?They are overprotective of me, but I'm willing to even be a cook,or something low profile, so long as I can live and experiment with my life. May 2, 2015 at 14:18
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    You are being over-protective of your parents. They are going to worry about you, but once you are financially independent that does not give them any right to control your life. As in independent adult relative, you may choose to inform them of your plans, but there is no need to convince them of anything. May 2, 2015 at 14:45
  • 3
    @PatriciaShanahan: Well, it is in her best interest to convince her parents that yes, she does understand the drawbacks of her choice and yes, she has thought about them at length. Because even the most supportive understanding parents are going to feel a need to make sure those two things happen (parents who just "set the adult child free" without having a discussion about consequences are not enlightened, they are failures), and it would be foolish to break off a relationship with parents for no better reason than that they wanted to share from their experience. +1 for great answer
    – Ben Voigt
    May 2, 2015 at 18:22

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.

  • Richard Feynman.

I have personally used and found the last part about "minimum required" very true.

It is natural for your parents to worry over you and desire a good life for you - one better than they lived. And it is also natural for you to worry about their worrying about you since you, like any other individual, aspire to live life on your own terms.

There can be a win-win solution like Patricia Shanahan suggested. And I would advise you to try it out. If you join a good university or even a company you might get a bit of chance around to experiment with stand up comedy like Diane Spencer(Check her out on YouTube!) does while having a "day job". This can be applied varyingly in other fields that you wish to explore once you find the right cultural scene at your place.

Now, regarding your fears about your parents trying to "control" you through a relative or some other such devices, you have to decide to draw a line and speak up for yourself and let them know what you like or don't like and what your dreams are. They might worry overtly for a day or two but it is better than "betraying" them later. Sit down and tell them that you wish to explore your other interests. If they oppose tooth and nail, do it anyways! Covertly, if required.

I had a bit of similar situation in my life and I explained it as "If an eagle doesn't let the eaglets fly out of it's nest, they would never learn to fly. It is better that I disappoint you right now rather than blaming you for everything that goes wrong with my life just because I couldn't put my heart into what you advised for my career and life."

But I am an Indian inspired by a movie called 3 Idiots (especially the photographer guy), so the cultural disclaimers apply :)

PS: You should give this a read. "How to do what you love" by Paul Graham

  • I'm an Indian too !! May 3, 2015 at 4:50
  • @That-Kickass-GirL I thought so but wasn't sure! :) Let me know if I can help/advise more. Checkout that essay at the end btw, it is very much relevant in today's India.
    – user31815
    May 3, 2015 at 5:20

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