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Counselor Q&A Section: Family Pressure & External Influence

Written by Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.
Dear Career Counselor,

I am considering going back to school for a Master’s degree in speech pathology. I have heard this is a stable career with good prospects and plenty of job opportunities. However every time, I try to complete the application and essay questions, I could hardly write anything. I have a variety of interests, and it is hard to focus on something specific. My family keeps telling me that I have to find my place in the working world, and start building my life. I need to make a decision and move forward.


You probably wonder why a simple application is causing so much stress??

My suggestion is to pause and think about your ambivalence about graduate school and this career path. Is this your dream career or a safe occupation? Are you trying to fulfill someone else’s dreams and ideals?

You sound uncertain about this career and confused about graduate school or any other occupation. You probably want to fulfill your family expectations but you feel conflicted and overwhelmed about your choices.

It looks like you have the pressure from your family to find a prestige and well-paid career but you also need to think about your own passions, motivations, and purpose. What matters to you?

Many young people feel pressured by their parents to follow a certain career path. Sometimes it is the parents’ unrealized dream or a preference for a stable and well-paid career.

Keep in mind if your work is out of alignment with your interests and motivations, you are much more likely to feel anxious and discontent with your overall life. Your goal should be to find a career that is energizing and satisfying. If you want to be engaged and happy in your work, you have to look inside yourself, do some introspection on your own or consider career counseling.  We can’t rely on others to make decisions for us or what they think we should be doing.

My suggestion is to look at your unique combination of interests, passions, and values versus your family’s expectations? Balancing these two components will be critical to finding career options. I am sure your family wants the best for you but it is best to hear what your inner voice is telling you.

Before you commit a new career path, consider doing some volunteer work; shadow a professional for a day, network with people in your chosen field.  You want to set up some small experiments before you invest fully in Master’s program, and dedicated a few years to training.

In your case, you may need to let go of the prescribed career, and ask your family to support you in a new direction.

Best of luck!

As a career counselor and life coach, it is my goal to help clients to develop a renewed sense of self, confidence, and optimism. I work with clients to address the challenges of career transitions and help them develop a new career-life vision.

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