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On Choosing a College Course: Placing Your Parents' Wishes Before Your Own

An incoming college freshman shares her story about deciding on a college course.
IMAGE Mark Jesalva

"Oh honey, that seems nice, but...I think you should take up a real course first."

Those were the words my mother uttered when I first told her about my career plans. We were seated at the dining table, my parents and I. Just like any other typical household, conversation stirred up as we were seated for dinner, the only meal we were able to have together on weekdays.

Being in my last year of high school, college applications were fast approaching. My classmates and I were feeling the most pressure we've ever felt in our entire lives. Our guidance counselors started pulling each one of us out of class to talk us through the decision-making process, and although we kept their inspiring words in our hearts, we knew the one thing they wanted us to do: think hard about where we were bound to go next.

I can admit that I, myself, carry an undecided nature within me. When I started becoming aware that I had to think of where I wanted to be in the next ten years, I saw myself in different situations every time. I weighed the pros and cons of every bachelor's degree, and made sure that whatever I wanted to proceed with would make me happy as I gave back to my family.

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Which brings us back to the present, as I sat in front of my parents, trying to hide my disbelief at what I thought was something they would be so supportive about. I forced the itty-bittiest of smiles, trying my best to make eye contact and actively nodding in what they had to say.

They continued drawling on about how working in the field of Fine Arts and English wasn't going to make me a promising candidate for the employment pool; how Art and Literature majors were "useless," and how a promising student like me could make it further in life if I took up a degree in business or health sciences.

And like the promising student I was, I sat and listened. For 17 years of my life, my parents have always proven that they know what's best. The few times I did things because I wanted to do them for myself, I always ended up slipping and running back into their embrace. As much as I didn't want to hear about what they wanted me to do this time around, I still thought about it.

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Day in and day out, the thought of pursuing what my parents thought were 'practical' courses ran through my mind. It was painful for me to let go of my dream to pursue something in the Arts, but as I continued to dwell on it, I realized that it could possibly be best to follow their wishes.

I put off filing my application forms because I was still unsure. As much as I wanted to follow my heart, to continue with the plans I already had in mind, to get my degree and work in the field of multimedia and communication, I didn't want to let my parents down. Would I really want to disappoint them this early in my journey?

Then again, compromise is difficult as well especially since I was already so sure of who and what I wanted to become. Would I really want to say goodbye to something I had wanted for so long, just to make my parents happy? Just so that they could be proud of me?

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After weeks and months of discerning, I finally knew. I didn't want to keep longing anymore. I didn't want to waste my time going back and forth between two loose ends. I didn't want to live a life with one foot in and the other foot out. I had to take a risk and make a decision before the future started without me.

So there I stood, about to embark on what could probably deemed as the most important journey of my lifetime, as I decided that although my passion seemed important, my family came first. They never let me down as long as I've lived, so why would I?

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About the author
Gillian Sun
Candymag.com Correspondent
A millennium-born Bisaya belle who dreams of becoming a respected radiologist. Born and raised in Cagayan de Oro, she aims to inspire girls to never underestimate what one is capable of, because greatness comes when we believe in ourselves.
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Gillian

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Serene Fae Just now

"The paradoxical idea of attaining a happier life and how to withstand these beliefs."

The Revolting Truth About Happiness by Theserenefae

If people ask you about your vision of a happier life we automatically envision ourselves having more money, true love, a better job, Instagram-worthy vacations, etc. But let me break this to you this, According to Dr. Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology at Yale University and the voice behind The Happiness Lab podcast, "Most of the goals we think would make us happy do not really make us happy." And why is that? Simple, being happy is all in our minds. The human mind ploys us with these lenses on how we envision ourselves and our lives to be happy. The perception of "having" or "gaining" is the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. So how can we really be "happy"?

• Seek happiness inside you. This is a quintessential reason for our vision of happiness: misconceptions about having a lot of money would make me happy; owning this and that would make me happy; entering a relationship would make me happy. This is not the case, if you want to be truly happy with your relationship, you have to be already happy on your own. If you want satisfaction from others, you have to be satisfied with yourself. And so on.

• Fill that hole righteously We all have that tiny hole inside our hearts, tampering it with temporary band-aids. Fill this hole with purpose. Have you ever heard about The Three "M's"— Master, Mission, and Mate? Define who will be your Master, is it God? If that's so, your Mission could be following his words and will. Mate would be the last for they will be the best companion to fulfill your mission. Now hear me out, it is important to do this accordingly. We often times jumble it or invert it which can lead to failures.

• Give gifts to others. The wonderful grace in giving. There’s nothing like the rush of pure joy when you get a chance to give. However, this may not be something that we're used to. But apparently, openhandedness is our soul's true shape. As Eugene Peterson put it, "Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born." This doesn't necessarily mean we have to give away our stuff but we can also present love, kindness, gratefulness, etc. in our own simplest ways to anyone such as giving time, encouragement, helping hand, or even forgiveness. Try giving and you'll receive inconceivable gifts in return.

• Savor moments. Savoring deeply intensifies our positive emotions while doing something that we love the most by simply stepping outside of the experience to review and appreciate the moment. You can practice this by having a delicious meal, reading a good book, or any activity that you enjoy and love. It can also be enhanced by sharing these experiences with others, appreciating such amazing moments, or staying present the entire time.

• Choose to Love Deeper Today's society relentlessly pressures all of us to have this "perfect" lifestyle such as pursuing careers that drain you, finding value through virtual world and purchases, letting achievements become your whole identity, and yet after all that you still feel empty and failure inside. Consumption is just skin deep—a shallow perception of happiness. Deep life brings the best out of us and others. It is about nourishing what you already have, focusing on the relationships than material wealth, becoming vulnerable at times, and being self-aware.

• Understand that Sufferings and Pain are part of Human Being. Always remember that loneliness and sufferings are inevitable. That is completely how life goes. You may be happy for a moment or a month but sooner or later great tribulation will start to kick in. Combat despair with graciousness. Count all the blessings that you have (and will have in near future, claim it!) by writing it down on a piece of paper or typing on your phone. Viola! an instant boost for happiness. We all know the fact that this superficial happiness won't work, but why do I keep on wanting? I already have all this wisdom about how to be happy for ages, but why can't I apply it to my own life?

First, you have to understand that simply knowing doesn't change your behavior. Care to realize that all the tips that I have mentioned are all verbs? Because at the end of the day, it is all about how you choose to be happy and initiate actions towards success. Know, reflect, visualize, believe, and do something about it. All of these are Actions! This is the secret of all the happiest and most influential people in the world—actions. Furthermore, do know that some of these tips do not work instantly most of the time. It requires a lot of time, motivation, consistency, and effort. I do know it's easier said than done. Take each of them slowly, one step at a time.

If it wasn’t for pain, I wouldn’t be alive. It may sound contradictory, but it’s true. Pain reminds me that I can feel, along with other emotions. Pain reminds me that I can heal, just like how I did in the past. Pain reminds me that I am strong and I can do better. It reminds me that life can be bitter, and it is up to us to make it a little sweeter (or saltier, depending on what the person wants).

With this epiphany, I take pain in a positive light. It’s normal that it can break me and make me want to stay in bed all day, but having someone or something remind me that there is hope is enough. It’s normal that I cry my heart out, but it’s important to remember that there’s a calm after the storm. If it wasn’t for pain, I wouldn’t be who I am now. It has shaped me and how I look at things. It has changed the way I approach circumstances that can challenge me and my beliefs.

Pain, back then, made me cower in the dark. Pain used to be my biggest fear, and I used to do my best to avoid pain. However, I realized that avoiding pain is like avoiding life. Because of how I wanted to protect myself, I closed myself off to people and opportunities. I used to tell myself that “this will end badly”, or “this is going to hurt in the end”. I always focused on how much pain I might endure in the end that I forgot to enjoy the process.

It’s inevitable, you see? Endings, most of the time, may hurt. It’s natural for us to grow attached to someone or something, and their disappearance might bring us a lot of pain. However, one should always remember that the pain is a reminder of how close you became, how many memories you had. If it wasn’t for pain, life would be pointless. If it wasn’t for pain, we would be nothing.

19 year old pharmacy student-businesswoman from Pampanga. I, Kimberly Chaile D. Ocampo, started planning my own business back when I was 18 years old. Despite being a student, that did not stop me to work and start up something for me to earn my own money. I was also influenced by my parents who are both hands on when it comes to the marketing world. I have decided to start my own mini restaurant/fast food restaurant recently (Feb 2020) and it was named as “Hungry Hubb”. From the word itself which is “Hungry” we thought of something that would give people the biggest hint that we sell food.

Because of the sudden quarantine, every store was forced to close for our own safety that is why there was a sudden decrease on our sales. But Hungry Hubb managed to survive by focusing on online selling and social media promotion. Our best seller would be Shawarma salad which is mediterranean style. We add authentic Garlic sauce to our shawarma (Which is available in Wrap, Salad, & Rice). Every product that we sell are very affordable and delicious. Our starting price is only 50php. (Shawarma Wrap). For Shawarma Salad (70php). We also have Milktea (60php) and Rice meals such as Lechon Kawali, Chicken barbecue, and Pork Barbecue for only 120 pesos.

And of course, I wouldn’t make it up this far without the help of my family and friends who have supported be from the very start. This is an open letter and inspirational especially to students that want to earn their own money. Nothing is impossible. You just have to be determined enough to turn your plans into reality.

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