Dear Nadine Khan,
I am a 22-year-old engineering student and not a bad one. However, my mother always compared me to my older sister, who is very intelligent and used to stand first when in school. She easily got admission in medical college. In her second year of med school, she got engaged as she is very beautiful. My sister is now married and is preparing for Plab exam as her husband is a UK citizen. On the other hand, I had to struggle to get science group in school. I worked very hard to get good grades but was unable to get pre-medical group in Intermediate. Now I am studying in NED University, but my mother thinks I am a failure. So far, I have only managed to get one proposal, but the guy is in Pakistan only, so my mother is upset because my sister will live abroad because she is beautiful and accomplished and I am just a plain Jane. Again, my sister has done something I can’t match! Don’t get me wrong; I love my sister and admire her. She is a great person and has always been very encouraging towards me.
I feel depressed because I don’t get what I want but have to settle for the second-best option. I feel I am not good enough. Had I been like my sister, my mother would have loved me and appreciated me. The surprising thing is that my sister once told me I am smarter than her because I can understand technical stuff. I wish my mother could accept me as I am, but she is ashamed of me. I feel demotivated and discouraged because she thinks I am good for nothing. What can I do to make her like me a little?
Dear Frustrated Pansy,
All people are different, with different capabilities and strengths. This world relies on this diversity of talents to go round. Not all people can be doctors, and intelligent as they are, doctors depend on engineers and scientists for so many things! Who makes instruments that doctors use to examine patients? Who repairs medical and surgical equipment? So, your mother’s disappointment is not justified and you should not let it demotivate or depress you. You are a very intelligent young woman, or you wouldn’t be studying in NED University. Getting admission in public universities is not easy and you must have done very well in your Intermediate and entrance examinations.
Try not to take what your mother says to heart. Most Pakistani parents want all their children to become doctors, but she has no idea that without engineers, doctors can hardly do much nowadays. Many machines and instruments are used by doctors to do their job well and engineers are essential in any modern hospital. Your sister understands this and is appreciative of your abilities.
Don't worry, dear, when you will be a successful engineer, your mother will realise her mistake and will probably take credit for your achievements. You don't have to do anything to make her like you; she loves you and she compares you with your sister because she wants you to do well and become as successful as her. I know comparisons are odious, but unfortunately some parents don't realise it and end up hurting their children, when their aim is only to make their children do well by making them compete against each other.
You are a very good-natured and fair-minded girl. Another girl might have been insanely jealous of her sister, but not you. This shows a lot about your character. Very soon you will make your mother proud of you, so get out of this depression and get on with your life! Good luck!