Becoming a Victim to Being “Practical:” Battling Parental Expectations of Majors and Careers

Have you ever heard that saying, too much of a good thing is a bad thing? Well, I believe that saying applies to this idea of being “practical.” Don’t get me wrong — being practical is great, but being too practical is not so great, and it may even be detrimental to your health. Well, maybe that’s a slight over exaggeration, but you get my point.

In college we’re told to go after a major that’ll get us “the good jobs,” you know, the ones that earn us prestige as well as a nice, big paycheck? But what defines a “good” job? Better yet, what defines a “bad” job? Is it influential power, prestige, money? I just can’t seem to figure it out.

Alhamdulillah I have this sea of talented people in my life, but I’ve noticed that they constantly ignore their talents because they’re told their talents can’t be used for anything ‘practical’ (i.e becoming a doctor, engineer, pharmacist, lawyer). So, instead of moping, I’ve decided to write an article about it. And maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will be inspired and start following their dreams. Maybe.

My real problem is with this cruel mentality that being a a writer, designer, activist, philanthropist, cook, artist, philosopher, or entrepreneur isn’t a real job. So what does that mean? Do these professions fall under the same category as unicorns? No, that doesn’t make sense. (And unicorns are real by the way, for all you non-believers.) I mean just think about it: if you could do something non-traditional, something you have a passion for, wouldn’t you choose that over the office job you’re currently paying twelve grand a year to attain? Let’s go back to kindergarten for a sec. When your teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, did you tell her you wanted to spend the rest of your life in an office copying papers and signing letters? No, I bet you didn’t.

Side note: My uncle actually told his teacher he wanted to be a fire truck when he grew up. Hey, I don’t blame the kid — fire trucks are cool.

When I first met my current college buddy, I noticed her through her unique sense of style, and later learned that she had a “passion for fashion,” so I asked her which art school she went to. She scoffed and said, “I’m actually attending pharmacy school.” I. Was. Baffled. So, I told her, “Well, you must really love pharmacy then!” She responded, “Eh, it’s alright. I’m just trying to be practical.” I was baffled because here she had this amazing eye for design, and I know if there’s one thing she would love to do for the rest of her life it’d be designing clothes. However, her parental units strongly advised that she can do something like that later in her life because right now she should focus on something ‘practical,’ like becoming a pharmacist.


Do you see what’s wrong with that picture? I just wanted to shake her and go, No! Don’t be practical! Go after what you love first! If you met someone that talented I’m sure you’d want to do the same. I mean alhamdulilah Allah (SWT) has given us all a gift. And when someone gives you a gift, the normal thing to do is use it, not throw it away. That’s not what kids do at birthday parties, I’m sure. Every one of His creations has a purpose. We’re all on this earth for a reason. Don’t let someone else give you your reason — go out there and find it. And if you know it, do the world a favor, and put it to use!

Long story short, I strongly believe that being practical shouldn’t stop you from going after what you truly love, your true passion, or your dreams. Now, I’m not saying drop out of school and become a writer. I’m saying that after you study for that biology exam, or finish memorizing terms for your law quiz, check out opportunities regarding your true passion. Make time for it. Develop it. And when the time is right, launch it for the whole world to see.

Whether it be a passion for fashion, baking, drawing, or writing, you have the rest of your life to worry about being practical. Right now, you’re young, ambitious, and you have something no one else has. Use it to your advantage. Make something of it. Succeed with it. Because, believe me, you do not want to look back at your life ten years from now and go, Man, I could’ve been this! or I could’ve been that, if I’d just given myself the chance.

Screw being practical, sister — go after your dreams no matter how ridiculous or seemingly impossible they are. And, if all else fails, keep calm and believe in Allah (SWT). He’s got the best planned for you.