“Be a Solicitor, Jasreen.” “Doctor is the way forward, Manpreet.” “Accounts are where the money is, Mandev.”
Sound familiar? I’m sure your parents have tried to persuade you to become doctors, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists, bankers, the list is endless of these challenging and lets be honest, well-paid jobs.
Some of you may be reading this that are right now studying to become doctors or lawyers, and are enjoying it. But was there ever a subject or a hobby that you once, or still have, a great passion for? Something you thought one day you would definitely become? Something daring, risky and damn-right stupendous?
I’ll let you in on a little secret… when I was younger, more than anything I wanted to become a pop star like Britney Spears; she was my idol! Seems silly now, but on some level (and a very low, small level at that) I still want to become one. But as I grew older and more mature, I discovered my passion in life: writing. I discovered I had a talent many of my friends didn’t have and now I undeniably want to become a Journalist. My goals in life are to write for giants of the media industry and eventually present on TV.
“Good morning, Welcome to the Six O’clock News with me, Ravneet Nandra.”
I can just imagine it ever so clearly!
But how do you think the conversation of telling my traditional, Sikh/Punjabi family that their only daughter and granddaughter doesn’t want to become a doctor, lawyer or accountant?
Not very well… at first. Reluctantly, my Father allowed me to study for an English Literature degree away from home at Birmingham. Currently in my second year, I have no regrets and this is just the start of making my dreams into a reality, and I’m excited!
Yet still I am constantly asked why I am studying for an atypical, non-traditional, Sikh/Punjabi degree? Well there’s your answer, because it is not traditional.
It is extremely important for Sikh/Punjabis to break free from the traditions of study; cut the strings that your family are using to puppeteer your life career. Broaden your horizons and see what other, uncommon careers tickle your fancy. Do you hear of many Sikh/Punjabi journalists? Musicians? Fashion Designers? No. And it comes down to confidence; these fields of work are incredibly risky, you either make it or break it. The traditional Punjabi careers are much more stable, you are secured a job after your degree and eventually a pleasant yearly salary, therefore taking less of a risk.
But sometimes in life, you have to take risks, no matter how big or small. One of my closest friends at University is the perfect example of a young male, aspiring to make his atypical passion a career, despite his parents’ wishes.
His talent for Art started as a simple hobby at school; Art was the only subject he truly cared for, loved, and most importantly enjoyed immensely. For this reason, his grades for Art were continuously A’s (less I say about the other subjects, the better!) Obviously, his parents were far from impressed; grades seem to be the proof parents need to show off to other parents how smart their children are. In my friends case however, his parents thought he, and I quote, “…has no dreams.” This brings up an interesting debate: does not aspiring to pursue the traditional Punjabi/Sikh careers conclude you have no dreams?
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending! (And we all like a happy ending!) His continuous passion and devotion to Art, starting up his own Graphic Design Company, having a handful of big-league contacts in this field and growing a fan base, all at the age of 21 have persuaded his parents to take his career aspirations seriously and they now take a very keen interest in his work.
We love our parents, even if they drive us up the wall sometimes! So we must understand why they try and persuade us to become doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. We Punjabis came to this country for a better life, to provide for our family and earn enough money for a prosperous life. My grandparents did just this, and so had to endure the hardships that came with it: racism, long-hours, minimum pay and poor working conditions. Our grandparents and parents suffered so we can have the jovial lives we live now. Perhaps this is why they want us to succeed in life; read a degree which would guarantee a fruitful living so we do not need to have the troubles of money.
Both my friend and I have been brought up in a Punjabi Household; we would visit the Doctors Surgery, shop at the Pharmacy and visit the Bank just like anyone else. We are surrounded by people doing everyday jobs, some more lucrative than others. There are hundreds of thousands of careers we can choose from but I believe we choose these careers from that which we are exposed to. For example, if your parents work in the medical field, you are more likely to choose a career in Medicine. If your family has a business, you may be more likely to choose a career involving money. This may be why we do not hear of many Fashion Designers or Chefs in the Punjabi community because of the way individuals are brought up and the immediate surroundings they experience. Growing up I definitely wasn’t exposed to many Journalists or Artists: I was exposed to Computers and Technology which is why I am an avid Tweeter!
Our community lacks a refined grounding in the Arts and it’s about time we make a big Punjabi-shaped splash in the pool of non-traditional careers! We have so many talented Punjabis, too scared or timid to show the world their potential, or too restricted from flourishing their passion by their traditional families. We have to move with the times; our community is embracing the modern World more and we only have a handful of individuals to inspire others. Become someone that others aspire to be like. Just go for it!