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Why I refused the big paycheck

4 min, 52 sec read
11:45 AM | 24 November 2015
by Aditi Ajmera
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Having a family full of bankers, entrepreneurs, accountants, engineers and being the only offspring with no interest of doing any of those might create a problem.

Don’t get me wrong! My parents are lovely and have always supported my education, however, they had big ambitions and dreams set for me in India, way different than my own. I remember convincing myself how purely awesome I would look giving presentations in that smart black dress, talking big numbers and using fancy economic terms. Not to forget, that big fat salary.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I always knew I wanted to do something related to the creative industry but never had enough confidence to actually do something about it. Just assumed that I would never be able to convince my parents and let it go. Until, I couldn’t.

And the award goes to…

In my final year of undergrad, being recognised as the best presenter in a competition with around 15 teams gave me a great sense of confidence, especially when my team-mates refused to go on stage leaving me with no choice but to present.

"I applied for a financial degree...
I would force myself to find some interest in the subject."

I could feel my hand shaking when I held the mike and pretended to have done that a million times before. Best. Day. Of. College. Excited and proud, I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my parents. “These little things keep happening my child, no big deal, anyone can do that. Have you thought about MBA yet?” Dad said, and just like that, my proud day was over. Countless conversations like these made me think he’s right, I won’t be able to survive in the real world if I don’t follow what he says and go my own way. Never tell yourself this.

“Marketing? So basically you want to earn nothing?” Dad would say. Motivating, right? He said no and I obliged. After undergrad, I applied for a financial degree called Chartered Financial Analyst aka one of the toughest finance courses ever. They would ask if this is what I want to do and scared of disappointing them I would happily say "Of course!". I would force myself to find some interest in the subject. My parents would feel so proud saying “Oh, my daughter is studying for CFA” to anyone who would ask. I tried but everyday I could hear this voice at the back of my head screaming “This is not what you want to do for the rest of your life!”

She shall have no fear no more!

After a few months, a very dear friend finally forced me to speak to my parents. Maybe I needed that push. I remember going to my Dad, almost in tears thinking how disappointed he would be even before I could say anything. “I don’t want this. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. I want to study advertising.” I said, still very scared. He just looked at me surprisingly and what followed was what seemed like an endless debate.

"I cannot thank my parents enough for letting me take this decision and eventually supporting me."

He always had a perception that people who can’t excel at fields like finance turn to fields like marketing as last resort. He even tried to ‘bribe’ me by showing this great graduate scheme that had opened up at a bank offering a post-graduate degree, guaranteed job and a brilliant starting salary. But I had made up my mind and was ready to fight for it. I didn’t know what was going to happen next but for sure knew what I didn’t want.

Soon enough, I started researching about post-graduate courses in marketing and then someone suggested moving to London for a masters degree. Now, this was huge.

My parents have been quite protective all these years, and I had never been anywhere outside my city without them. Yeah, I know right? Surprisingly, after a month of convincing, my dad agreed! I couldn’t believe it. Hell, I still don’t! You know what is the best part about doing something others think you can't? It’s the motivation to prove yourself.

"I chose the creative industry because of the overall atmosphere. The people, the informal yet efficient and professional work environment."

Suddenly, everything seemed just right! And I moved to London. Best decision ever. I cannot thank my parents enough for letting me take this decision and eventually supporting me. One year in London studying masters in marketing communication taught me so much and helped me develop my personal skills in a way which would have never been possible otherwise. During my course, I found myself highly motivated and interactive, which I had never been before. I loved my subjects and I loved meeting new people everywhere.

I chose the creative industry because of the overall atmosphere. The people, the informal yet efficient and professional work environment, the brainstorming, everything really. Yes, it doesn’t pay much initially, but it interests a million times more than finance. And most importantly, I’m happy. It’s all worth it when you can’t wait for the next day to begin.

To end my story, all I would say is, follow your dreams! However, be practical about it. Do your research before advocating your choices. And never lose hope! Before talking to my parents, I didn’t think, even for a minute that they would listen to me. I stood up for my choices, and they listened. There was my hope, right there. And as they say in the film 3 Idiots…

"Never study to be successful, study for self efficiency. Don’t run behind success. Pursue excellence and success will chase you."

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