"I have been working as a nurse for almost a year now, but I am honestly not happy." - Unhappy Nurse
Dear Ms. M,
I come from a family of medical practitioners. My parents are both doctors, the same with all my three siblings. I am the youngest and a nursing graduate, but only because I got forced. I tried to continue with it; I have been working as a nurse for almost a year now, but I am honestly not happy. I have always wanted to pursue a career in the arts or media, maybe be in the culinary field, and run my patisserie or even a restaurant one day. I know that this field is rewarding and stable, but I can’t get myself to be even interested in what I do; it has been torture for me. Please let me know what I should do with my life as I am in my mid-20’s now. Thank you.
Dear Unhappy Nurse,
I’m glad you reached out because so many teenagers feel as you do; although you are already in your 20’s, I would still say you just started your adulthood. It looks like you are experiencing extreme parental pressure but believe that you either can’t or don’t know how to address it.
You say your parents forced you to take nursing for a career. So let’s think about why that is, and what might help them to hear you better.
First, let me say that they are merely doing their job as a parent. They love you deeply. They likely believe that getting in the medical field just like them and maintaining a career the same as theirs leads to a happy, fulfilling life, and they feel they are helping to guide you to that future. They may be baffled by what they think about your lack of appreciation for their attention and care for you. All of these make it hard for them to understand and hear you.
Healthy human work is to learn how to please yourself—not your parents, your teachers, or society’s idea of what you want to be. It’s to figure out what matters to you most and to focus your energy in that direction. For you, what matters may be balance rather than undue stress, and growth rather than perfection, or self-defined identity rather than a forced medical career. You value creativity rather than a constrained existence. Let these values be your north star.
So: back to your parents. Somewhere along the way, most likely in their childhood, a certain kind of. achievement and appearance was essential to them. Maybe their parents put the same pressure on them and pass the same sort of pressure to you. However, unlike you, they acceded to the force without examining the consequences. It might help write both your mom and dad a letter to express yourself clearly and without interruption, and explain to them what your value system is. You might start by saying that you appreciate how much they care about your well-being and that you know they believe their efforts are for your benefit.
You can then explain that even if their goal is to raise you to have a fulfilling life, the way they are trying to help will not work for you. Let them know that you feel always stressed and overwhelmed. You might end the letter by explaining that the greatest gift they can give you as a parent is the freedom to be who you are—and to be embraced for it—and that you’re someone who works hard and does your best, but who also has many interests and who values making time for relaxation and fun. Tell them that it’s OK with you if they choose to live their lives differently from yours. Ultimately, you will become a whole human being if they support you in this, and you will have a much healthier relationship, both now and in the future.
Hopefully, your letter will open up a different kind of conversation to help create more understanding between you. If it doesn’t, you might consider reaching out to another relative or family friend you trust for support in helping your parents to broaden their perspective. Either way, clarifying your values and advocating for yourself will be a learning experience. Nobody gets to live your life for you.
Love and light,
Dear Ms. M is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. By submitting a letter, you agree to let The Spotlight Media Entertainment magazine use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length or clarity.