Picking a Degree – The South Asian Edit

Hafzah Zamir on the difficulties of pursuing a career in the creative industry, whilst being surrounded by Asian academic success

Hazfah Zamir - 99 reduxYou’re probably reading this article because you are thinking about picking a degree, or even considering whether the university lifestyle is even your fortè.

Being South Asian, when it came to picking my degree, there was a sense of pressure to say the least.

Coming from a South Asian community, or to be more specific, a Pakistani community, it was difficult when it came to choosing the career path for me.

I remember picking my degree and being torn between a dream and reality (as clichè as that sounds).  The dream was that I wanted to be an artist. Since I was a young girl, I had aways been into the creative side of life; from painting, to theatre, to literature, to photography and film-making (to be honest the list could go on).  But ultimately, my reality was that the careers that were made for South Asians were more on the…  academic side.  Growing up, I was surrounded by family who went into the conventional Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Accountant category.  I knew this was not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I did have the capability to pursue these careers, but there was one particular night that I remember vividly.

It was late and I was thinking about the career that I would want to go into.  I mean the right thing to do was to be academic, be successful, make my family proud.  But would I be happy for the rest of my life?  Of course not.  I’d be stuck in a dead end job doing the same thing day in day out that I didn’t like and be depressed.

But this was always a worry for me; I didn’t care what society thought of me, but I did care about the griefing my parents would get because of a few comments made by some distant auntie visiting from Lahore coming up to my Mama and being like:

“Oh your daughter is an artist…  My daughter is doctor, earning thousands.”

Girl, please!  If you’re going to sit there and evaluate my life, the life of someone you barely know, you need to go and reassess your own life.  Yes Lahori auntie, you’ve been shut down.  *Snap snap*.

But anyways, I therefore decided to start looking for a degree where I could get the best of both worlds (sort of like the Hannah Montana of degrees).  I looked and looked and instead of just giving up and following suit to the conventions of my society, I instead found Public Relations.  As a combination of business and marketing, it allowed me to appear academically successful in my society, whilst creating creative campaigns and working a lot with social media.  I managed to find a degree that would also satisfy me.

When people ask my Mama what I do, she isn’t rather proud to say that she has a daughter that is a trainee Public Relations Practitioner.

And me?  Well, currently halfway through my degree I can happily say that I get to be as creative as I want and branch out into doing other opportunities, which gives me the satisfaction that I once thought was only a dream.

Creatives.  Do not let societal norms affect who you are and your dream, because at the end of the day, this is your life.  Please let me be that first step that changes your life forever.

Stay Productive, Stay Awesome!

Words by Hafzah Zamir

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