Ask The Therapist: “I have a job that I love which I can move up in without a degree, but my parents won’t even consider letting me not have a degree…I feel stuck.”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I am a first-year college student and I am really struggling. I have a job that I love which I can move up in without a degree, but my parents won’t even consider letting me not have a degree. I understand that it’s a safety net and good for job security, but I’m so miserable. I’ve tried talking to them about it but every time I do, it doesn’t work because they want me to get my 4-year degree. I even suggested getting a 2-year degree which is better than no degree, and a better alternative for me personally. But they won’t agree to it. I just feel stuck and don’t know what to do.”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I can only imagine how stuck and frustrated you must be feeling right now. At the end of the day, we ideally want to do the best thing for ourselves, without anyone’s interference. I hear you when you say that you would like to explore this job prospect for yourself – it sounds like you’re really enjoying it. Let’s see what options we can narrow down for you in terms of action.

Explore Your Goals

One of the best ways to approach a situation like this is to understand our own goals, short-term as well as long term. Exploring the bigger picture of your life might help you understand what steps need to be taken in order to reach it. Some questions you could ask yourself are:

  • What would I like to be in 5 years?
  • Where would I like to be in 10 years?
  • What steps do I need to take in order to reach that goal?
  • What tools and resources do I need in order to reach that goal?

Before talking to your parents, it’s best to have a clear picture of where you would like to be, and how you could get there. Having clarity and a plan in your head might help you move forward in terms of action.

Knowing Your Options

From the message that you’ve sent, I can propose different options in terms of action. At the end of the day, remember that each choice will have a certain level of consequence – it’s just a matter of deciding which one you want to take. Note: these are some options based on my very limited knowledge of the situation – there could be more that you could explore.

Option 1: You mentioned talking to your parents about not wanting to continue college. Sometimes parents have it in their mind that college is “now or never”. What would it be like to tell them that if your job isn’t suiting you, or if it doesn’t work out, you can always return to college later on?  Explain to them why a degree wouldn’t be necessary, and perhaps suggest that you could learn from your job, or even do courses online that are geared towards acquiring the necessary skills that are needed to function in the workforce, and within your desired field. Or perhaps propose a gap year in which you can work and revisit the idea of schooling later. 

Option 2: You could complete your degree and return to your job in a few years once your degree is finished. Or even move towards being a part-time student instead of full-time.

Option 3: You could stand your ground on your decision to not continue with school, and continue on with your job, and leave college.

Option 4: You could do both things, and try to strike a balance between the two. Though from your message, I gather that this is the option that resulted in you reaching out in the first place.

Making A Decision And Sticking To It

At the end of the day, Anon, remember that you will always have a choice. Yes, there are consequences for one’s choices, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re choosing to be where you are. I guess what you need to ask yourself is: what would happen if I made this decision? 

I know how difficult it is when parents have a different idea of what your path should be. Culturally, it happens more often than not. You’re not alone there. In the end, you can choose to listen and go with their wishes, or create boundaries with them and communicate what you would like to do, and stand your ground on it. I know firsthand how difficult it can be and it might not happen overnight, but give it time and do it in small steps. 

You have more power in you than you think, Anon. There is no right or wrong decision here – the choice is all yours at the end of the day, and you will do whatever works best for you in this situation. I really hope that everything works out for you in the end – I’m rooting for you. Best of luck and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *