How to Fail Professionally

Want to be a failure? Here’s how:  listen to your Pakistani parents and do exactly what they say.

I’m generalizing. There are of course those with model parents who have been given a perfect mix of benevolent guidance and responsible freedoms and grown up to become responsible, functional young adults. If that is you, you can go back to saving the world now.

And of course there are certain things which your parents can advise you about, and well. But if your parents are anything like mine, career is no longer one of them.

Your parents think in terms of your safety rather than what is best for you because you are their child. They think in terms of conventionality rather than creativity because they are old. They think in terms what has worked before rather than adapting to new situations because they are really truly old.

They have an old person’s view of the world.


Not only is this view conventional, orthodox, and overly safe, but it is outdated, outmoded, and no longer relevant to the world your young life navigates.

Which makes what they say well intentioned, but essentially useless. For example:

– They don’t understand that there are professions other than Engineering or Medicine out there. For them you are either a doctor or an engineer or a waste of space. This held true once upon a time but it does not hold true anymore. Be a retail entrepreneur. Be a dancer. Be an artist. Be a writer. Be a gol gappa tester. You may not be rolling in the moneys, but you will be content, and that’s infinitely more valuable. And who knows, if you’re really dedicated, you might just become great at it and the money will come too.

– They don’t understand that you can make more money sitting at home over the internet than you can at most offices. I simply cannot understand the notion of subscribing to the corporate machine and devoting 8+ daily hours to climbing slowly up a fictional man-made ladder just so I can buy bigger and better things to enhance my feelings of self worth. Really, I only work to make money so I can spend my time the way I want to. And I’m making more these days as an online writer working two hours a day than I would have working as an engineer at most local multinationals. While laying in bed. In my underwear. Win.

– They don’t understand that getting life experience is infinitely more valuable than getting more and more advanced degrees. After two fairly useless Masters’ degrees, I can safely say that I learned more on the streets of Peshawar, Islamabad, Abbotabad, and Washington D.C. than I ever did in a classroom. Parents will usually push you to keep furthering your education, not realizing that the ‘education’ of formal university curriculum is also outdated, outmoded, and essentially useless.

– They don’t understand that their children should make their own decisions, or at least have the majority vote in critical affairs such as selection of career or spouse. Really, do you want your mom to pick your wife or husband? Or your father your job? If yes, you are allowing two old fashioned, outdated, overly cautious  people to decide how you spend your time and your energy for the rest of your life.

– They think they know best. At least as far as you are concerned, because you are their child. And you tend to think this way too, because they are your parents, the god figures of your childhood. But they don’t; no one other than you knows what’s best for you. You are going to have to find out what you love on you own.

You listen to them at your own peril. I did, so I know first hand. Although they mean well, their advice is actually dangerous.

A few years hence you will wake up one day next to the wrong person, in the wrong house, working at the wrong job, dreading getting out of bed to face an existence you don’t want. Your life won’t be yours; it will be a reflection of what you parents wanted for you. And you will have no one to blame but yourself.

None of this is meant to suggest that you be a douche to your parents. If you go down that path you’re a hopeless little stain.

It does mean that you should start making your own decisions. Start exercising your individual freedom. Start doing whatever the fuck you want. Start now, and you have a shot at a happiness that is uniquely your own.


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