How to Tell Your Parents You Don’t Want a “Real People” Job

So you’ve graduated with a four year degree but your major in conflict studies or communications is leaving you high and dry. It’s time to end the charade and pursue that “pie-in-the-sky” job you’ve always wanted: travel writer, ski guide, professional climber, world-renowned pastry chef. How do you tell your loving parents, the ones that paid for you to become something boring and conventional like an attorney or a CPA, that you want to throw caution to the wind and pursue your dream? Well, as a former liberal arts student pursuing a career as a travel writer I am still figuring that out myself but here are some words of wisdom I have encountered on my personal journey.

Offer Them a Drink
While getting your parents plastered before having a life-altering conversation is a pretty terrible idea, sipping a glass of wine or beer might help loosen the mood. If you’re not in the mood to drop this idea on them all at once, creating a casual atmosphere might help you mention the prospect in a more natural way. This will also allow them to sleep on the idea, as we all know how sleepy parents get after that one glass of red wine…

Give Them Real World Examples
This might be good for your own mental health as well. Knowing that you might not be the next Jon Krakauer, Shaun White, or Paris Hilton (for those aspiring to be professional socialites) will keep you level headed, allowing you to make smart decisions rather than, well, stupid ones. While talking with your family about this drastic change give them examples of family friends or local professionals. Don’t let this piece of advice stifle your drive to succeed but adding a dash of realism to your unending optimism can help settle the mind and keep things in perspective.

Develop a Backup Plan
Okay, so you don’t have to initiate the backup plan but parents LOVE knowing that there are plans for your plans. This will let them know that you realize you are taking a risk and that you are prepared for the consequences. This also might help put your mind at ease. Assuring them if you dream doesn’t work out, that you’ll still be employable, will make all the difference.

Appeal to Their Sense of Adventure
Remember when your dad told you that crazy story about how he packed up his van and drove to Mexico for Christmas? Or what about when your mom almost married that performance artist with the weird eyebrows? Now is a good time to bring that up. This is not only a subtle way of guilt tripping them, it also reminds them that they once made unpopular decisions and they (for the most part) turned out okay.

Lie…Until You’ve Made it Big
If your parents just don’t seem to be the understanding type lying might be the best option. Get a day job that sounds mainstream while secretly pursuing your passion on the side. Once you’ve made it big, or big enough to pay the rent, tell them about your true intentions. Although I don’t condone lying I do support the saying: “better to ask for forgiveness than permission”.

By Caroline Kellough

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