DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents moved our family to the United States from Nigeria when I was 3 years old. Like most Nigerian parents, they have always encouraged my siblings and me to be the best in everything we do. Growing up, if I wasn’t No. 1 in my class, my parents would ask me what the other kid was doing that I was not. One time, my mother asked me the grades of my classmate before I was allowed on a play date.
Fast forward to now, and I hold two degrees because my parents had hoped I’d become a doctor. I’ve had enough with school and would like to go into comedy. So far, I’ve had some success online, and of course I have a five-year plan. My parents are having a hard time accepting this, which makes going home for Christmas dreadful. How do I cope with my parents drilling me about becoming a doctor? -- Not a Doctor, Bronx, New York
DEAR NOT A DOCTOR: Believe it or not, your parents mean the best. The push for you to be excellent is their way of urging you to do your best to succeed. They moved across the world to give you an opportunity, and they don’t want you to get distracted. This focus is legitimate. That said, their push for you to fulfil their career dreams is entirely different.
Go home for the holidays to be with them. If you are not ready to talk about your comedic plans, dodge their questions -- for now. Let them know that you are doing well. You may have to get your career started and prove to them that you are able to take care of yourself. Work to figure out a way to provide for yourself as you grow your comedy brand. You will need to do that anyway.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My one-year internship with a small international company turned into a full-time job offer after I graduated last May. Here in the U.S. office, there are three people, including myself. One of my colleagues is a part-time employee. I’m thankful for the opportunity, but more thankful that my supervisor fought to bring me on as a full-time employee.
I started the full-time position in June. Knowing that I could do better, I sent out my resume from time to time. Well, I’ve received a job offer from a major company that my friends would die to work for. The problem is, I’ve been here only a few months full time, but I don’t see much of a future with this small company. How do I tell my supervisor I’m thankful for the opportunity but I need to leave? I would like to keep our professional friendship, if that’s possible. -- From Intern to Colleague, Syracuse, New York
DEAR FROM INTERN TO COLLEAGUE: This type of situation occurs occasionally. Be honest and humble. Speak to your supervisor, and thank him for believing in you and giving you a chance. Let him know that you sent out your resume when you graduated, and recently an opportunity came your way that you cannot turn down. Tell him that as much as you appreciate his support, you know that you need to accept this opportunity. Apologize for any inconvenience this may cause his company. Tell him you hope it will be OK for you to stay in touch. His belief in you at the beginning of your career is something you will never forget!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)