How do I explain to my parents that a grad degree doesn’t equal success?

John Doe ‏@Rothbard_Fan: how do I explain to my parents that a grad degree doesn’t equal success? I’m 22, 150k in debt scares me.

ANSWER:

By your twitter account I can see that you personally love liberty, freedom, the pursuit of your own dreams. And yet your name is “John Doe” the ultimate name for those who want to hide. I am sorry you are so torn. Sorry that your parents are trying to bottle up the freedom. They are only doing it because, like all parents, they assume they know what is best for their children and they won’t give up control EVER, if they can hang on to it to MAKE SURE you do what you are “supposed to do”.

My parents didn’t like it at first when I wanted to major in Psychology. Then they didn’t like it when I wanted to be a novelist. Then they didn’t like it when I left graduate school. They didn’t like it when I separated from my wife. My mother didn’t like it when I wanted to pull the tubes on my father and let him die when there was no hope. I would go in and see him and he would have bed sores while he was just staring at the ceiling with nothing inside. Many the time in my youth when he tried to tell me what to do. When he thought he knew what was best for me and tried in many ways (physically, financially, with logic, etc) to enforce it.

I’m an adult. And at 22, so are you. You have maybe 80 years left to live. Lots of people will disagree with things you do and decisions you make: your parents now, then your wife, or wives, then your children, or your peers, or your bosses. In the next 80 years maybe 100 people that are important to you will disagree with things you do. Maybe more.

Do you have to explain everything to them? To these 100 people? Chances are they will still disagree with you. Not because you are wrong, or because they are bad or stupid but just because that’s what people do. They get programmed with their beliefs at an early age and then they start to disagree with everything and anyone that goes against those beliefs. People have a tendency to walk over boundaries. I’m me and you’re you and there’s a boundary between us but often people want to say, “I’m me but I’m also going to try get you to do what I would do”. If they try to enforce that too hard then that’s going over your boundary. Adults shouldn’t do that to each other.

There’s no way to explain to your parents the decision you are making. You are 22 years old. You are an adult, a citizen of the universe, a human capable of great love, great achievements, and many experiences you have yet to experience. You are right to be scared of $150,000 in student loan debt. Maybe they have never experienced that. They don’t know what it feels like. But they are scared you won’t get a good job if you don’t go to graduate school. They have their fears and you have your fears. Your parents love you very much and their concerns are out of fear for your future job safety.

Acknowledge their love. Love them back. But it’s up to you now to become a little wiser every day. You only need to explain things to yourself. And how do you do that? You need to plan for yourself. You need to outline what you will do and how you will do it. If you require financial assistance from them at this point then you need to start figuring out how you can financially go out on your own. You are 22.

Most of all, you don’t need to argue with them or convince them. You stay quiet. You don’t overthink. Your body will tell you what feels right and what feels wrong. Stay healthy so the message is as clear as possible. Don’t muddle the message via drinking, bad relationships, worries about your parents, worries about your future. Just listen.

Let your body explain to you what to do. Then do it. Don’t worry about anything else.

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