Dear Harlan: My parents are forcing me to follow a career path that is not what I want. I’m a female junior in college following a premed track. I no longer have any interest in becoming a doctor. After spending the summer working in a hospital, I have never been more convinced.
My parents are set in their ways and have a hard time understanding how I can make a living in a job that doesn’t have a specific career path. They don’t believe investing all this money in college is worth it if I don’t have a job when I graduate. I prefer graphic art and marketing. My parents are first-generation and close-minded. How can I convince them to stop forcing me to choose a major that gives me no pleasure? — Not a Doctor
Dear Not a Doctor: The way to convince them is through appreciation and gratitude. I understand how painful it is not to have their support, but their reaction is based on fear. It’s based on their life experiences over the years. They want the best life for you. Help them understand the path you want to pursue. This means mapping it out.
Find three people who have the jobs you want to have. Talk to these people. Take them out for coffee. Deconstruct their careers. Identify where they worked after graduating. Ask them about the people who helped them rise through the ranks. Use their careers to map out your career path. Then use your career center and make and find companies that fit this match. Make it easy for your parents to understand. If they still don’t, once you graduate, you will have a map to get to wherever you want to go, or someplace even better.
Dear Harlan: My girlfriend likes to look through my phone to see who I’ve been texting. She makes it seem like a joke, but I know there is something more. I told her I didn’t like her looking through my text messages and she lost it. She said that she should be able to look at my phone.
She then handed me her phone and told me she’s not hiding anything. I explained that I have other conversations not related to her. There can also be friends who are confiding in me and don’t want her reading these messages. It seems like there should be some limits to what she sees. I think it comes down to her being cheated on and worrying. We’ve been together for three months, and I like dating her, but I don’t like this part of her.
— No Privacy
Dear No Privacy,
Boundaries do matter. She doesn’t want them. You do. That’s where you need to find middle ground. I agree that you have every right to your privacy. And yes, there might be conversations with friends or family that your friends or family wouldn’t want your girlfriend to see. Those are all valid reasons not to want her to have access to your phone. Instead of making rules, make it clear that you understand where she is coming from. Remind her how you feel about her. Ask her to look at the overall way you treat her and respect her in order to reassure her. When it comes to your phone, delete any sensitive messages from friends or family. You never know who could pick up your phone and start going through your messages.