5 Tips on How to Deal With Unsupportive Family

Not every family and friend will believe in your career or business. Here I’ll discuss how I dealt with this and what you can do too
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You can have the utmost belief in your own skills and abilities to build a business or career, but what happens when the people around you don’t share that belief? Using my own experience this is how to deal with unsupportive family and friends.

These tips are a mix of how you can deal with unsupportive loved ones, and also how they can change their minds to a more positive outlook.

If you are a young person who dreams of career in art, then share this article to your mum, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or whoever it is who doesn’t believe in you!

It was after seeing this YouTube short that I wanted to write this article:

This is spot on. This was me. And it didn’t have to be.

Parents have killed more dreams than anybody

Spike Lee (GaryVee YT)

Like Vaynerchuk says, we have to reframe success in society. It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about the happiness in your heart a job can bring. Even when it comes to money we need to educate society that careers in art can be as financially rewarding as any other traditionally well paid career.

My Experience

First let’s talk about my experience. I was a 80/90s asian kid from first generation asian immigrants, and from a young age I’ve always showed an aptitude for the arts; drawing, painting, and creating has always been my passion.

And as I grew up in the 80s/90s building on those skills took effort and determination to find the tools and knowledge. Unlike now with YouTube and websites like Skillshare, Domestika, or Gumroad, information back then wasn’t as ubiquitous.

My parents were exactly like that classic asian parent meme!

Except I was meant to work in a bank and my brother was meant to be the doctor. Now in my case I’ve always had an aptitude for numbers and business, but at my heart I’m an artist first. This is what I wanted to pursue.

My parents lacked the foresight to see the multitude of avenues one could build a career through art. My parents had a myopic view of art, that an artist would struggle to make a living making paintings.

So I bowed to the pressure and followed my parent’s wishes and studied Economics at Kingston London, gaining a bachelors degree; and when it came to working in the business world I failed, spectacularly.

I was lost for quite a while, the motivation working in this field was not right.

Ostensibly I must have looked lazy, but in reality I was recalibrating my goals to align more with my own, not my parents, and working out how to get there. Because I was already so far behind those already on the art path. It was a little too late (and I also lacked the funds) to pursue many art fields I would have been proficient at had I chosen them first.

Even today we still joke about broke artists: “What do you call an artist without a girlfriend? – Broke”. Now while this can be true. A good artist who is also smart and educated in business will never be broke. But this is how many people still see artists.

They just can’t see how art can lead to rewarding careers in:

  • photography
  • illustration
  • graphic design
  • architecture
  • conceptual art
  • comics
  • teaching
  • curation
  • restoring
  • stage design
  • animation
  • makeup
  • printmaking
  • car design
  • 3D design
  • industrial design
  • web design
  • film directing
  • storyboard

I could list more. All these jobs can lead to incomes equivalent to working in traditional office or medical jobs, and most cases more!

If you open your eyes, there is a world being built by creative people, the buildings you work in, the food you’re tasting, the packaging it came in, the car you’re sitting in, the phone you are reading this on; all of it, an artist has had a hand in creating. The world is built by artists.

If only my parents could see this, I always believe I would have had a much more productive and prolific career in my 20s. It was only until my 30s that I was finally able to utilise my creativity for my career.

Of course I still genuinely don’t regret the path I’ve taken. It has led me to creating great stories filled with much joy in ways that would require another article to regale you with.

And I don’t begrudge my parents’ lack of foresight, it’s not their fault, the just needed to be educated about the world of art.

It took a while to come back around and fully utilise art into my work, and poetically it’s almost swings and roundabouts really, that I still chose to end up working in a business capacity (but on my own terms); and my brother too, who is now working in the NHS.

Tip 1 – Debunk Their Concerns

Our parents, family or friends can be obstinate in their old ways of thinking and as with any growth, you have to challenge your own perspective to move forward.

What was common belief before can change with the times. Careers in art are just not as well known. Let’s use an example of a job that is relatively new. A junior 3D Game artist is not a job that even existed 20 or 30 years ago, but now it is a highly skilled profession. With a basic Google search we can see this position can command over $40K dependant on experience.

The older generation are just not in touch with the advancement of new and changing professions. A 3D artist and their income is just not common knowledge in the general public, whereas a doctor’s income is common knowledge. Maybe not the figure, but we know it’s more than the average income.

For context in the UK the starting salary for a doctor in foundation training is $23-27K. A starting doctor almost earns the same as a junior 3D artist.

So it’s just about educating them on what is possible with a career in art.

I’ve just used a job that’s really not known about with the general public. But more prominent jobs are exactly the same, photographers, teachers, illustrators; these jobs can command huge salaries, let alone the job satisfaction that comes with them.

Tip 2 – Be Affirmative with Your Goals

Simply put, don’t pay any heed to any objections to your dreams of building a business or career.

Obviously this is harder said than done especially the younger you are. But having a sense of stubbornness will get you more of what you want more often. They may disagree and call you disagreeable but this may be the key to your success.

Famed clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson says that the disagreeable person will be more successful than the agreeable person. A disagreeable person will push for more in their careers, will not settle for anything less than what they are worth.

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Tip 3 – Engage Them in the Process

Sometimes showing the process, the inner workings, will illuminate them to what it is you do. It can be hard to visualize what it is you are doing if it’s something that isn’t common; the example of 3D modelling is a good one, as not many people understand this field.

When they can see it in person, the actual craft, and everything involved they can develop a new understanding and respect for the level of expertise needed and value of your expertise to your field of employment.

Tip 4 – Show Them Your Success

Following on from engaging them in the process is the end result of that process. Staying with the example of 3D modelling, you may be working on a triple A game.

These are top tier computer games that invariable have budgets similar to Hollywood movies in the hundreds of millions.

With the revenues that come from the sales of these games and the subsequent awards that also come, showing your family or peers the results of your work is validating.

Again you can apply this to many more examples in different ways. All of which will validate the choice you made.

Tip 5 – Do You Need Their Support?

Now there is the question of why go through all that effort in the first place? Do you need to convince anyone that you can build you career or business?

If your belief is strong enough then the answer is no, you do not need anyone’s support. Your own determination will follow you through to success.

But having the support of your family or loved one is a great pillar to have. For some people this support can be the difference.

For others there is a determination that will be too much for anyone to stop you from achieving success. If I’m honest this is my preferred choice.

But I am not a young man anymore, I no longer have the burden of peer pressure or parental pressure weighing on my shoulders as I make decisions. So in my continued journey to build my own business I look to no one for support. I have an unshakeable belief that I will push through and succeed.

But even so support is not unwelcome.

Final Thoughts

I’ve focused specifically on salaries and income in this article, but just important is job satisfaction and your well being.

I was watching Ronny Chieng’s standup on Netflix and I thought it was a brilliant observation he made. When his parents wanted him to become a doctor, of the list of reasons for why they wanted him to be a doctor, helping people, was last on the list!

Last! It’s the prestige of having a son become a doctor. Obviously in society being a doctor carries a lot of weight. A doctor is clever, earns a lot, is capable. These are intrinsic traits we associate with being a doctor.

Not so with an artist. But this needs to change. Artists change and shape the world, there is no more prestigious occupation that is so rewarding to me.


Don’t forget to check me out on YouTube and for more business articles go here.