Dear Abby: I graduated from college with a degree in a niche field. In my graduating class of nearly 7,000, there were only four of us with this specific degree. I now have a career in the field I majored in. I love what I do and take pride in it. The problem is my family. For whatever reason, my parents and siblings don’t seem to want to remember what I do. When people back home ask what I’m up to, they come up with vague or dismissive answers.
When they tell me about it later, they seem to think it’s funny. The first few times I could laugh about it too, but this has been going on for years. Their one-sided running gag has grown old. I don’t care that they’re not interested in what I do, but I feel humiliated and hurt when they act so dismissive of it to other people. It happened again a few days ago, while I was out with my family at an event. A family member intentionally messed up the name of my workplace multiple times (even after I had corrected him) while talking to a volunteer. Although I managed to step in, it’s still weighing on me. I have tried explaining what I do numerous times. It’s not confusing. I have even suggested they use broader alternatives (if they would say I’m an ecologist, I would be thrilled). Nothing has changed. I’m left wondering if this runs deeper than a joke and they don’t actually take me seriously. Do I need to be more blunt? Should I tell them this has crossed the line from funny to hurtful? Or am I blowing this out of proportion? — Hurt In The West