When I give lectures on college campuses, the most difficult question I am asked is this: “I want to pursue my dream, but my parents want me to do something different. What should I do?”
在大学里讲课时,我被问到的最难回答的问题就是:“我想追逐我的梦想,但我的父母想要我做别的。我该怎么办?”
I can relate. What would have made me happy as a young person was to be a writer and study literature. What would have made my parents happy was for me to become a doctor like my brother, who went to Harvard and Stanford. How could I come home to my refugee parents, who worked seven days a week in their grocery store, and tell them that I wanted to read Jane Austen and the Romantic poets, and major in English, a language they didn’t speak in their own home?
我感同身受。我年轻的时候,成为一名作家并学习文学会让我感到快乐。而能让我父母开心的是我要像哥哥一样成为一名医生,他去了哈佛和斯坦福。我该如何回家告诉在杂货铺一周工作七天的难民父母,我想读简·奥斯汀(Jane Austen)和浪漫主义诗人的书并主修英语,一种他们在家中不会使用的语言?
Eventually I did tell my parents I was majoring in English, but I wasn’t ready at first to tell them that I wanted to be a writer. That would have been going too far. My day job was being a professor, and my dream job was being a writer, which consumed my nights, weekends and summers. It was exhausting, but so were the sacrifices that my parents made for us.
最终,我还是告诉了父母我要主修英语,但一开始我还没准备好告诉他们我想成为一名作家。那有点太遥远了。我的正职工作是做一名教授,我梦想的工作是做一名作家,作家的工作占据了我的夜晚、周末和夏天。这很辛苦,但我父母为我们做出的牺牲也很辛苦。
I did not expect my parents to read my books. Their acceptance of my choice to become a professor was enough for me. And then one day I presented them with what they had not been expecting: a novel. Surprise!
我没想到我的父母会读我写的书。他们接受我成为教授的选择,对我来说已经足够。然后有一天,我向他们展示了他们没想到的东西:一本小说。惊不惊喜!
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What happens when our parents’ definition of happiness makes our happiness impossible? On college campuses, the young people who ask me this question are often Asian American, as I am, but when I posed it on Facebook, people of various backgrounds, many of them successful and creative, responded with their experiences and advice.
当我们的父母对幸福的定义使我们的幸福变得遥不可及时该怎么办?在大学校园,问我这个问题的年轻人通常是像我一样的亚裔美国人,但是当我在Facebook上提出这个问题时,各种不同背景的人——其中许多是成功且富有创造力的人——写下了他们的经历和建议作为回答。
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Circumstances, resources and opportunities vary widely, as do the motivations of parents in trying to steer their kids toward or away from particular careers.
没有某种解决方案适用于所有情况。境遇、资源和机会千差万别,父母试图引导孩子走向或远离特定职业的动机也各不相同。
Beyond concern for their children’s livelihood, parents may be trying to protect them from the pain of failure. If so, they’re right — failure (and penury) is always a risk. Many of us believe that pursuing our dreams will bring happiness. But perhaps it won’t. It took me over 20 years of struggle to become a writer, but it might have been 20 years of struggle to discover that I was not a writer. Isn’t this just part of the lottery of life?
除了关心孩子的生计之外,父母可能在试图保护他们免受失败的痛苦。如果是这种情况,他们是对的——失败(和贫困)总是一种风险。我们中的许多人相信追求梦想会带来幸福。但也许不会。我花了20多年的努力才成为一名作家,但也有可能,经过这20年的努力我发现我并不是个作家。这不就是人生彩票的一部分吗?
Once we decide to pursue our passion, how best to proceed? Here are some strategies gleaned from my friends and acquaintances:
一旦我们决定追求我们的爱好,接下来怎么做最好?以下是从我的朋友和熟人那里收集到的一些策略:
Just go for it.
放手去做吧。
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Yuko Shimizu’s parents wanted a conventional life for her, so she went to college in Tokyo for a degree in advertising. Then at 33 she quit her job in corporate public relations, left her native Japan and moved to the United States to become an artist. She explained her decision this way: “Your parents will pass away eventually, and you have to live your life for yourself.”
清水裕子(Yuko Shimizu)的父母想要她过墨守成规的生活,所以她去了东京的大学读广告学。然后在33岁时,她辞去了公司公关部门的工作,离开了她的祖国日本,移居美国成为一名艺术家。她这样解释她的决定:“你的父母最终会去世,你必须为自己而活。”
Getting your parents to tolerate your choices may be enough.
你的父母容忍你的选择可能就足够了。
The parents of Adriana Ramírez are “still not fine and will never be fine” with her life as a poet, she told me. But “they simply tolerate my choices because they love me.”
阿德里亚娜·拉米雷斯(Adriana Ramírez)告诉我,她的父母对她选择的诗人生活“仍然不接受,而且永远不会接受”。但“因为他们爱我,所以他们就容忍我的选择”。
Truthfulness is overrated.
没必要太诚实。
Then there’s the strategy that Zia Haider Rahman, a writer, advises: “Lie.”
作家齐亚·海德尔·拉赫曼(Zia Haider Rahman)建议的策略则是:“说谎。”
Sometimes that’s the only way to avoid a pointless confrontation. I have lied often to my parents, in words or by omission. For example: My father is a devout Catholic who goes to church every day, and I am an atheist, but when I come home to visit, I take him to church and say nothing about what I believe. (Our parents have probably lied to us, too.)
有时,这是避免毫无意义的对抗的唯一方法。我经常对父母撒谎,有的是真骗,有的只是故意不说。例如:我父亲是一个虔诚的天主教徒,每天都去教堂,而我是一个无神论者,但我回家探望他时,我带他去教堂,对我的信仰只字不提。(我们的父母可能也对我们撒了谎。)
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The belt-and-suspenders approach.
上个双保险。
Pursue your dreams, but prepare a backup plan — a double major for example (one major for your parents, one for yourself). This is also good preparation generally for a creative life. That’s what I did by pursuing academia for my day job, in the hope that one day I could call myself a writer.
追求你的梦想,但准备一个备用计划——例如双专业(一个为了你的父母,一个为了你自己)。这通常为创造性的生活做了良好的准备。这就是我所做的,在日常工作中追求学术,但希望有一天可以自称作家。
Be patient.
要有耐心。
While young people often want immediate answers, the road to acceptance from parents might be a long one. We may have to gradually wear down our parents, as Matty Huynh did. “Instead of declaring I was going to be an artist, I made art,” he said. By the time he left law school, his parents had gotten used to climbing around frames and boxes of books in their garage. “Continuing to make art had become mundane, an inconvenience,” he said, but eventually it became an “inevitability.”
虽然年轻人通常希望立即得到答案,但获得父母接纳的道路可能很长。我们可能不得不像马迪·黄(Matty Huynh,音)那样逐渐消磨父母的期待。“我没有宣称我要做艺术家,但我创造了艺术,”他说。当他离开法学院时,他的父母已经习惯绕着他们车库里的画框和书箱走来走去。“继续创作艺术已经变成了日常,带来了不便,”他说,但最终它变成了“必然”。
Assert your independence, respectfully.
尊重他们,同时坚持你的独立性。
Parents, especially immigrant parents, have often worked incredibly hard to create opportunities for their children. Still, some parents have to learn that their children’s lives are not theirs, no matter what they sacrificed. Respect is the key, says Kavita Das, a writer: “It comes down to helping them understand that we are not throwing away all their hard work but honoring their hard work, because it allowed us to pursue our dreams.”
父母,尤其是移民父母,常常非常努力地为他们的孩子创造机会。尽管如此,一些父母必须明白,无论他们做出什么牺牲,孩子的人生都不属于他们。尊重是关键,作家卡维塔·达斯(Kavita Das)说:“归根结底是要帮助他们明白,我们不是在浪费他们所有的辛勤工作,而是尊重他们的辛勤工作,因为他们的辛勤使我们能够追求自己的梦想。”
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Mr. Huynh suggests putting less weight upon your parents’ approval: “It might sound aggressive to say one shouldn’t ask for permission, but it’s kinder not to expect a blessing from people who have no experience and only anxieties about your moonshot dreams.”
马迪·黄建议别把父母的认可看得太重:“说一个人不应该征求同意听起来可能有点强势,但对于那些没有经验并且只对你的宏大梦想感到焦虑的人来说,不期待从他们那里得到祝福是更友善的做法。”
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Now that I am a parent myself, I like to think I would allow my son to be anything he wants, such as a writer, artist or musician.
现在我自己也为人父母,我想我会允许我的儿子成为他想成为的任何人,比如作家、艺术家或音乐家。
“What about professional video game player?” my wife asked.
“职业电子游戏玩家呢?”我妻子问。
Reader — I hesitated. I still do.
读者们——我犹豫了。我仍然在犹豫。
But I know I will have to let him go and trust that he will make the right choices for himself, if we have properly prepared him.
但我知道我将不得不让他走自己的路,并相信如果我们为他做好了适当的准备,他会为自己做出正确的选择。
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My parents, too, accepted me, and I hope that they would have accepted me even if I had failed in the pursuit of my dreams. After all, they themselves had taken huge risks, as refugees — leaving families behind, becoming their own bosses instead of accepting the jobs they were expected to take. This country benefited from their work and sacrifice.
我的父母也接受了我,我希望即使我在追求梦想的道路上失败了,他们也会接受我。毕竟,作为难民,他们自己也承担了巨大的风险——抛下家人,自己做老板,而不是接受他们更有可能从事的工作。这个国家受益于他们的工作和牺牲。
Doctors, lawyers and engineers make great societal contributions, too. Still, we will always need our poets and artists, our teachers and storytellers, our misfits and dreamers, contrarians and risk-takers.
医生、律师和工程师也做出了巨大的社会贡献。尽管如此,我们将永远需要我们的诗人和艺术家、我们的老师和讲故事的人、我们的格格不入者和梦想家、逆行者和冒险者。