Why I Chose to Do What Makes Me Happy and You Should Too

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Why I Chose to Do What Makes Me Happy and You Should Too

                                  by Nasima A.

As we get older and busier with life, we often neglect the things that make us happy. Or worse, we get told that our hobbies are time wasters and pointless. When I was a child, my uncle asked me what my favourite subject at school was. When I told him it was art he replied, “Art is rubbish! It is better to be interested in being a doctor or a lawyer!” Although that was disheartening I still never let other people’s opinions faze me because I loved writing, baking, making birthday cards – even if I was a bit rubbish at it – but it gave me joy, it was a hobby.  

Last summer my parents and I went to Bangladesh to visit relatives. I met with one of my cousins who is a published Bengali author and poet. I mentioned that I also liked to write to which she told me that writing is in our blood and that I should continue to write. It’s funny, art and music is a strong part of Bengali culture and yet people still undermine it and see it as inferior.  

There’s so much expectations from young people that it can be overwhelming. Schools and family (particularly from an Asian background, though some not all!) like to encourage more academic subjects like sciences and math and value those grades more. I was never the kid to excel in those subjects. I never really excelled in anything but I enjoyed being creative. 

When I chose the subjects that I wanted to do for A-levels I received a call from my school’s careers advisor who criticised my choices saying that they were “too creative and won’t give me lots of options”.  That was a slap in the face since she never asked me what I enjoyed doing or what I was even good at. There’s this gross idea that if you’re not doing what everyone else is doing then you will be overlooked and your achievements undervalued.  

After completing my A-levels I came to the realisation that I wasn’t going to worry about people’s expectations of me and that I would do what made me happy. My mum had tried to put me on the path of doing an IT course but I realised I hated that subject and, so I chose to do my degree in marketing. The same uncle who told me that art was pointless would always ask me what I was studying because he could never remember; perhaps it wasn’t worth remembering since I had a cousin studying medicine to which I have this running joke that I studied the wrong ‘M’ (marketing not medicine!). 

There’s this gross trend within south Asian families where people love to brag and show off. If someone’s child is doing well in school then best believe you’ll hear about it. It’s sick and stressful, and the reason many kids can’t follow their true passions because their parent’s pride relies on them. How do you tell your parents that it’s YOUR life and YOUR happiness? Not something for you to judge me on and to use my achievements for bragging. How many times have I had to hear that someone couldn’t pursue something they really enjoyed because their parents pressured them into something else?  

Sure, we will fail and nothing will go right but it would be an insult to anyone who achievement anything if we thought that success was easy. We always worry that we’re not good enough but how will we ever become good if we don’t continue? I’m not a brilliant writer or illustrator but, if I give up then there is nothing to improve on. In the meantime, these little hobbies are coping mechanisms for my thoughts and stress and the bores of life. As cliché as it sounds, we really do only get one life. It’s far too precious to spend it the way others expect you to.  

Let's start the journey to staying content and being happy with the work we do.

follow Nasima on Twitter and Instagram @moosleemargh

Pray, Say & Slay Team