This I Believe

Nicole - Los Angeles, California
Entered on November 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family
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For my family to accept me, I believe that I have to be the best. This pressure had been placed on my shoulders ever since I was three years old. While other kids imagined becoming astronauts or artists, I used to be asked “ Vhat kind of dok-tor do vant to be?”

But now, the questions have changed to:

“Vhy vould you vant to do that?”

“ Are you sure? No, no, no, you should become eh…dental hygen-eest.”

“ Neekol Joon, you vant to get married vhen you’re…thrity?”

I was always taught that all Persians are supposed to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers—or else they end up owning a carpet store in downtown L.A. Now that I am thinking of becoming an anesthesiologist, just as my father was in Iran, my family has been discouraging me from doing so. Why can’t they just make up their minds? They planted all these ideas into my head of the importance of becoming the new ‘Dok-tor Bakhshi’, but now they are having second thoughts. When my dad told me of his experiences in Iran, including 20 years of medical preparation to finally claim his own office, I knew I wanted to work as hard as he had. During the Iranian revolution, my family had to flee the country. My father was then instantly stripped of his office, and essentially of his title. Now, it seems that he’s been reduced to nothing.

My family knows that I’ve wanted to become an anesthesiologist so that I could “take my father’s place” and finish what he started, yet they have recently begun steering me otherwise. Apparently, I should be married to a wealthy Persian man by age 23, focus on raising a family, and go to dental school after my children have grown up.

As for marriage, well that’s another story. My family has been trying to get me a shohar for the past three years, and have been scouting for khastegars since I was Bat Mitzvahed. I’ve told them that I would have to put off marriage until I was finished with medical school. I could see the disapproval in my grandma’s face, as if I had crushed her dreams and made her dentures crumble in her mouth.

Yet I feel like I have no other choice but to listen to my family’s advice, and their definition of being the best that I can possibly be. I have to do what’s acceptable in their eyes, in order to be a part of them. I don’t know if I can take the dismaying look of disappointment in my grandmother’s eyes once more. My family never told me that I could do whatever I wanted, or be whatever I wanted to be. They have made it my duty and obligation to do what I am told and be as subservient as I can. If I don’t become a doctor, get married to a wealthy man and raise a family, I will be nothing; worthless, shameful. I am constantly reminded that my future success is not for me, but for upholding our family name.