Career vs. Vocation

We can’t get enough from the same questions our tios and tias ask every time we come home for the holidays. How’s school? Are you working? Do you have a boyfriend? I know for a fact that my Mexican relatives ask these questions, not including their comments that as long as I finish college, I will be successful. This may not be every Latino students case but ever since my family arrived to the U.S. they adopted the “American dream” or as I will refer, the American patriarchal idealism. What I mean is; the traditional structure that wealth and power such as building a career, getting employed in a high paying job, and owning a house with a two garage door is the path to success.

My parents have always believed that carrying a respectable rank of power will reflect success. Therefore, going to school and getting a superior position in employment that draws an abundant amount of money would be the optimal way to reach that respectable reputation. It wasn’t until I entered my first year of college that I realized my parents expectations differentiated with my friends parents. In a project I had done for my English 101 class, I associated my topic with, what expectations do parents have on their college student? I interviewed students with distinct backgrounds such as Latino students, first generation students, and students whose parents received a degree. I was certain that Latino parents had high expectations for their child. According to the data I received, three out of four Latino students experienced similar reactions of their parents advising them that a career would lead to success. On the contrary, the friends I interviewed whose parents had experienced college said their parents expected them to do the best they could and if their calling was elsewhere it was okay. I was in disbelief, or maybe it was jealousy. My friends had the support of their parents to pursue their passions even if that meant a discontinuation of schooling.

Author and spiritual master, Sadhguru clearly asserts that,

“Right from your childhood, your parents thought you ‘if you study, how should you study? study hard. If you work, how should you work? Work hard’ … Nobody told you, you must study in joy, nobody told you to work you must work in love, they told you you must do it hard.”

It is true that many families submit the idea of working hard rather than being passionate of what your working hard towards.

I understand my parents wanting me to work hard in order to be successful, but what does success even mean? I too, had been influenced by the traditional American patriarchal idealism because I first thought of wealth. However, as I expanded my thinking, I came to the conclusion that I desired to be content with myself and in what I would do in the future, whether I finished college or not. It is 2016 and the word success has evolved within these years. I will be successful once I live in Italy with my seven children. My neighbor will be successful once he finishes his business degree. You probably define being successful as being confident whereas others might interpret it as a hike that took days to complete. Success has a new meaning and millennials recognize that more so than others.

That is why I call upon my Latino community, including my parents that I, as a college student, have the choice to follow my vocation instead of my career.

So tia and tio, instead of asking me these lame questions, ask me what I see myself as in the future.

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