Up until recently, I’ve had a great relationship with my parents. I’m currently in my last year of university, and I’m trying to figure out what the next step in my life will be. I have applied to graduate school and have been accepted at one school and wait-listed at a second. I realized during the application process that the school that has accepted me is not a good fit for my personality or my academic and career goals. I’m not certain that a PhD program is what I want anymore, anyway–especially at a university that I’m not too keen on in the first place.
A lot has changed in my life lately, and I’ve recently returned from studying abroad and realized that there many more opportunities and avenues to pursue than I’d originally imagined. I’ve tried discussing these concerns with my parents, but whenever I do they either tell me to just go to grad school as planned, or they get scared that I’m throwing away an opportunity and will end up doing something that will screw up my life forever, which inevitably ends up in a long argument that leaves everyone angry.
I told my mother the other day that all I want is for them to trust that I will make informed decisions, follow my heart, and learn from any mistakes that I make. I understand that they want nothing less than the best for me, but over the years I’ve come to see that there are things about me that they will never understand because they’ve never experienced what I have. I’ve studied in a foreign country and have been abroad several times since I was a teenager; they’ve never left the United States. I’m trilingual, but they only speak English. I’m majoring in the sciences, but they’ve never set foot in a lab.
I’ve never disagreed with my parents over something this major before–even when I was in junior high and high school, we got along very well. Am I being immature or short-sighted for not wanting to go to a graduate school that I feel is not right for me? (For the record, I’m going to follow up my applications at the other universities I’ve applied to and seeing what happens there. Also, we’ve agreed from day 1 that they will not be paying for my graduate education–I will). I feel terrible knowing that I’ve scared and upset my parents, but I also know that I’m an adult and I need to what I feel is right for me and to accept the consequences of my choices. I want to have a good relationship with my parents, so what can I do to fix this?
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