Q. I am 21 and just graduated from college. My goal is to become a nationally recognized model in the fashion industry. When I told my parents and other adults that I wanted to join the fashion industry, they all encouraged me to pursue my career and do what I’m passionate about. At one point, my mom even asked me if I was thinking about becoming a wedding photographer and told me I should go for it because it was the money. (I didn’t receive full-time wedding gigs — instead I did odd-jobs at brands and also tutored in photography schools). At the end of the day, my parents said they’re always concerned that I am going to blow my money.
Now I want to stop pursuing my career dreams because it seems like the most drastic step. I can’t bear the thought of being unemployed and watching my parents from the sidelines. I wonder if pursuing this goal will put my parents on edge and change their ultimate support. In high school, I started college with a plan to major in a popular fashion brand and major in fashion business after graduation. I have received so many offers from prestigious labels to work. I can’t say for sure whether this is what I want to do or if I should just continue my studies and be loyal to the company I work for now.
If I do pursue a career in the fashion industry, I won’t be debt-free because my loans will start accruing. However, the reality is that since I finished college, I’ve been put on a study abroad program with an international fashion brand. Until I left, I assumed that I’d have a very secure career. I’ve just started hearing from my counselor and colleagues that starting your own business is not such a good idea. At this point I’m considering changing my major, but only because I don’t want to end up being a failure in my career. What should I do? — Ellie
A. Ellie, congratulations on your graduation and the great opportunity to work at a major fashion brand. If you choose this industry, I think you will be extremely successful! The fortunate part of your dream is that you have access to a wide number of opportunities. Not all industries are as self-sufficient as the fashion industry, so there is always the potential that one of these industries may not be as lucrative. The possibility of being unable to work or pay back loans is a possible reality, but you should also keep in mind that your student loans are for education and not career training. These aren’t bulletproof for sure, but again, you’re in a good position with a great degree and educational debt.
I think you may want to stop working on your career path for a while and take a step back from it to allow you to gain confidence in your future in the field. It could be helpful for you to visit a financial planner and talk with them about how to best handle your finances and retirement goals, especially since you are such a young person.
We all want to feel loved, cherished and supported by our parents. It is possible that you are worried that your parents will not understand that you might have dreams that might be difficult for them to support and be able to show you patience and forgiveness. You should talk to them about how to handle your thoughts and feelings. Be willing to accept their love for you and follow them. This is something that your dad and mom can do for you and they can support you in realizing your dreams.
Ellie Krieger is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Send your questions to [email protected] or c/o United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., 8th fl., New York, NY 10016.