What do you want to be when you grow up?
This was a question that haunted me every night in my sleep. I didn’t know.
When I was six, my mom showed me a documentary on cardiac surgeons. It was fascinating. I started thinking that I want to be one of the people on the screen.
“I want to be that person in the white gown.” I said.
My parents were delighted by this news.
They told me, “You’re going to be a cardiac surgeon, okay?”
I nodded. From then on, answering “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was a piece of cake. That question triggered a button in my brain that almost mechanically made my mouth open to utter the two words, “cardiac surgeon.” I was essentially a robot. But as I grew older, another question came lurking into my consciousness.
“Why? Why do you want to be a cardiac surgeon?”
I didn’t know.
For me, my parents never forced me into becoming a doctor. I just happened to watch a documentary on cardiac surgeons and found it fascinating. However, that one thought, that one remark shaped my whole life and brought me to where I am currently. After I revealed my dream more than a decade ago, my parents immediately set my words in stone and began to create a checklist of my life.
Straight A report card: Check.
Acceptance into Harvard-Westlake: Check.
This checklist may be somewhat familiar to students, especially those in our community. But the checklist put me into a world where perfection was a must.
Maybe this was for the better. Or maybe this was for the worse.
I don’t know.
However, I do know that the futures of children take up a big bubble in the minds of every parent. The love, worry and caution add up together in that bubble until it bursts into obsession and pressure.
As we kick off a new school year, we should take some time to discover ourselves and find our own interests.
However, we shouldn’t neglect what our parents tell us. We might find a passion for that profession at a later time.
The moment we were born, our parents painted a portrait of us, filled with all of the things that they find beautiful.
However, as we grow older, we should zoom in and look at all of the details. We should paint more. We should add our hobbies and passions into that portrait.
We should create a self-portrait.
As high school students, we still have more than enough space to add onto our portraits. There is no need for a rush. Nor do we need to place the pressure onto our shoulders and carry it with us everywehre.
We just need to take a deep breath.
Everyone around us is that confused, lost child.
Even our parents, maybe even the successful entrepreneurs we hear about on the news and media.
However, success comes not when we complete the checklist, but when we overcome that pressure.
As for me, I am beginning to paint more on my self-portrait. I am beginning to find that in fact, I do want to be what my 6-year-old self wanted to pursue.
But since I did not finish my portrait, I am not sure.
Unfortunately, pressure will not magically disappear.
Instead of embracing the pressure, we should learn how to combat against it by painting our portrait.
Only then will we take home a crown of victory.
Only then will we overcome the pressure.