A few weeks back, I attended the wake of my best friend’s grandpa and since we grew up together, a lot of her family members recognized me even after so many years and asked me how I was doing. I don’t know why but lots of people thought that I went to grad school just like my friend, because I “seemed like the type to do that”. I clarified that I was already working, with no plans to go back to school. My candid response was met with shock; they were expecting me (read: putting pressure on me) to go back to school, look for better opportunities abroad, or just perform better than my peers.

When I look at it that way, somehow I feel like I have disappointed my parents, especially my mom. I mean, since grade school, they have already pushed me so hard to excel and be better than my classmates even though I didn’t care about it one bit. As a child, I liked studying, but I didn’t like how studying was always tied to grades and how people around you judge you for getting the grades that you got. I know some people would laugh at me and tell me, “But grades don’t define your intelligence.” Well, they do define how people measure your abilities and how people perceive you.

Now, before telling me that I am complaining because I was one of those kids who failed at school (and life) early on, let me clarify one thing: I actually did pretty well during my school years. I deliberately fooled around during my high school years because I was so tired of all the pressure but I still got pretty good grades. Not very high, but pretty good. I was a consistent part of the Dean’s List in college as well.

I think this is also why I am being pressured right now to pursue all those things. They know I can do it and they are expecting me to do it. My parents are on Facebook and I know they see my former classmates’ photos and status updates about them working abroad or getting accepted into law school while I don’t have anything to brag about on social media. Most of all, my siblings are already doing so much with their lives (my brother is a doctor and my sister is getting her Master’s degree) so they want me to do the same.

I am tired of being forced or pressured to do something I am not fully interested in. Yes, I have a college degree which I find really cool and interesting in so many ways. I had fun learning all about it. But do I really know what to do with this degree? Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life? I am actually not sure. I took this course because my parents and teachers told me it was a good one and I can earn big bucks with it. Okay. The way I’m seeing it based on everyone else’s opinion, school is just for earning credentials or just a way to prep myself to work abroad (which is something I don’t want to do). I’m sorry, but that was never the way I viewed school. That’s why I don’t want to do all those things just to have something to brag about. If I do it, I should be doing it because I really wanted it.

Most importantly, I want to be successful on my own terms. Yes, my former classmates are making it big and are doing all sorts of things in their lives, but so what? I don’t feel like I’m being left behind because that’s not how I measure my success in life. My work is going well and I’m learning so much about it every day. I am financially capable. I get to explore different places and learn a lot about different cultures by travelling. I find solace in writing about my life and my adventures. I have good relationships with the people around me. I am taking everything one step at a time and now, I still don’t find the need to move on to bigger things because I’m still getting used to everything that the real world has to offer. I am not dismissing the possibility of me going back to school or moving out of the country. Maybe I will someday, maybe it will never happen. Who knows? I just hope people stop comparing me to others because I’ve already done enough comparing my whole life. I really don’t need all this negativity right now, not when I’m just starting to feel good about my first step into the real world.


  1. I have a really difficult time NOT comparing myself to others and their accomplishments and successes. I look at where I am and see others who have done so much more than me and just become really discouraged. So if you’re at a place where YOU are happy, with your job and your own successes – hold on to that! Your parents I’m sure want the best for you and that is just what they think is best, even if it’s not. Take time to just enjoy where you are! *hugs*

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Becca! 🙂 You’re right, we might listen to what others may have to say but in the end, it’s our happiness and satisfaction with life that counts.

      It’s quite hard not to compare yourself especially now in our connected world, where every achievement or every life event worth noting is immediately posted online for others to see. I don’t blame you for feeling discouraged because it’s a pretty normal reaction; I’ve been there too 🙂

  2. I know about the pressure to do good in school and just do something “extraordinary” but in fact, life hardly lets you do that. Life threw me curve ball after curve ball and I’m still trying to get up from it all. The pressure to be perfect was made known to me early on plus with my childhood traumas, I had a inflated sense of not self worth and had to work at something which gave me nothing in the end. Do what you think is right for your life and what you think can benefit you mostly. I can’t say this enough to people and to anyone that will listen. Don’t plan out your life because it rarely goes the way you want it too.


    Never compare yourself to others, or their own life journeys whether it be recovery or just getting good grades in school or etc; Just walk the journey you must and set your sails accordingly on your own journey.

    1. What you said is very true Michelle. We all have our own pace and timing in life. It may take longer for us to achieve what we want but that doesn’t mean that we would never get there. All of us also want different things so we must follow what we want instead of letting others dictate for us.

      I’m glad that even with everything that you’ve been through, you are still keeping an optimistic outlook and trying very hard to rise above all those challenges 🙂

  3. I feel like people’s expectations don’t match reality. I personally think being successful is when you’re able to do what you love. Not everyone wants to become a doctor or a lawyer, and not all career paths need a graduate degree. I never went back for graduate school because in my field, graduate school usually meant going into education or research, neither of which I wanted to do. If you get a high paying job in a field you don’t enjoy, I’m not sure if it’s really worth it.

    It sounds like your life is going well and that you know where you want it to go. That’s a good thing! People need to mind their own business and let you do your own thing 🙂

    1. I agree with you Cat! Unfortunately, this is something that some people don’t understand; a lot of my elders, for instance, think that the only way you can be successful is if you are a lawyer or a doctor. My field doesn’t require a graduate degree as well, though it is always an advantage. As of now, though, I don’t see any purpose for it and I’m not interested as of now.

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  4. Just do what you want to do. Don’t ever let anybody tell you to do this or pressure you to do that. It’s not worth sacrificing your own happiness to pursue something everyone else thinks you should do. Success also comes in many shapes and forms, and if people cannot see or accept it, then bah to them!

    Right now I’m at the age where I’m being pressured to get married and have kids. Uh, no. Don’t rush me, and it’s really not the end of the world if I don’t have a significant other. Also, I’ve got zero maternal instincts, and if I was pressured to have kids and I don’t want any . . . uh, I won’t be happy and that will rub off my kid, so no thanks on that!

    1. Oh man, I’ve seen a lot of people being pressured to get married as well! A lot of my friends who are at that age are actually feeling the pressure and that’s not a good thing at all. You would be worse off if you just go into a relationship half-heartedly, and if you get kids they would be affected as well. I think you’re right in not rushing things; what’s important is your happiness 😀

  5. I know exactly what you are feeling and I despise it when people were to compare me to others, but I am my worst critic. For some reason I am much harder on myself than those around me. Even so, I understand why there are people who are people pleasers. That pat on the back or “good job!” to these people are worth much more than that self satisfaction so I say TO EACH THEIR OWN!

    I believe you should continue to do you however you want to and do whatever it is you please just as long as it makes you happy 🙂

    1. I am my worst critic as well! But I do get the people-pleasers too because at some point I became one of them as well. However, I realized that wanting to please others too much is not a good thing and maybe that’s why I’m shifting to this kind of thinking now, where I am aware of what others are expecting of me but at the same time keeping in mind that I have my own plans and dreams to fulfill 🙂

      Thanks Connie and you can be sure that I will continue being happy and doing the things I love 😀

  6. Aw, Claudine! Sending you virtual hugs!!!

    I know it sucks to be pressured by people’s expectations, but my piece of advise is just do what you have to do to find happiness. At the end of the day, all their expectations would mean nothing if you don’t find it in yourself that you are happy. Relax and breathe. Be successful in a way that you want to be. We got your back, for sure. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jhanz! 🙂

      Everything you said is true! It’s difficult to follow other people’s dreams if you’re not going to be happy. You’re right, I should find my own definition of success and work my way towards it! 🙂

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