I Want to Follow My Dreams, but My Parents Care More About Financial Security

#HelpMeDidi!!!

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Pop art illustration of a young South Asian woman
(Illustration: Maria Qamar)

Introducing Digital Didi, a brand-new advice column from Insta-famous artist, author and all-around badass Maria Qamar, better known as Hatecopy. You probably remember her 2017 book, Trust No Aunty, a guide for Indo-Canadian young women who maaaaybe feel a bit caught between two cultures. Now, Qamar is offering up her trademark smart but sardonic advice for FLARE. Need help with work, family or getting shit done? Slide into our DMs or tweet your Qs with the hashtag #helpmedidi.

The Question: How do you convince your folks that money isn’t everything? My parents’ desire for my financial security has been clashing with my aspirations and it has been tough to deal with, especially since their perspective is entirely rooted in the immigrant hustle! —Arthi

Didi Says: First-generation immigrants love to talk about money; it’s basically the icebreaker of choice. I’ve been asked about my salary and financial goals from everybody who has ever attended a Qamar fam jam. And if the answer wasn’t satisfactory, I’d get shamed for not having an expensive-sounding university degree or simply told that I should get married instead of working towards my personal goals. (That way, I could at least lock down that mythical financial security fairy.)

That’s why, for most of my twenties, I felt guilty that I was letting my family down, simply because I had chosen a career they didn’t approve of. I was switching jobs too often and was constantly working to build a business from nothing. I was risking everything to be the best at something I was truly passionate about, and I wasn’t at all close to “settling down,” whatever the hell that meant.

But then I started thinking about where they were coming from. For me, not having stability meant that I couldn’t afford to watch Game of Thrones on my own HBO app—so I used my ex’s login. For my family, the struggle had been about finding a way to keep the lights on every month. We didn’t just have different perspectives; we were approaching the question of financial security from two completely different paradigms. But their hard work is what ultimately allowed me (and, it sounds like, you) to choose our aspirations over financial security, which is a privileged place to be.

That’s not a bad thing, by the way. It was their goal! But it is important to remember the hustle that raised us, for you and your parents. Whenever my mother had doubts, I would remind her that it’s because of her that I learned to buy groceries and cook instead of depending on Uber Eats, or that I learned to open a TFSA instead of letting my money hang out in a PayPal account, waiting to be spent on a drunken 3AM Fashion Nova haul.

The truth is, there is no tactic to getting over the stigma around a start-up. You might never convince your family that what you aspire to be is more important than their fear of having a broke boi living in their basement. But what you *can* do is remind them of the strength and trust that allowed them to make their move to an entirely new country with little financial security. Their hustle didn’t solely come from will; it came from the essential need to work hard and ensure that their children wouldn’t have to experience the uncertainty of starting from zero.

So, instead of clashing with your family, work on your dreams with them. Educate them about what you want to accomplish, and remind them that they know all too well what it means to do something that didn’t make much sense when it began, but ultimately benefitted everyone in the long run.

You were raised by risk takers; your best bet for success is to learn how they did it.

Related:

Why Hatecopy’s Trust No Aunty Is the Indo-Canadian Manual I Needed
Hatecopy Shares Her Fave Illustrations from Her Hilarious Handbook, Trust No Aunty
Meet FLARE 60 Under 30 Honoree Maria Qamar—a.k.a. Hatecopy

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