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I never studied at college what I wanted. I chose my majors based on my future earning potential. Sadly, my education was not motivated by love for knowledge, natural curiosity and love of intellectual pursuits. My education was always motivated by financial gain.
Even though I had a dream of becoming a writer and joining the literary and intellectual elite, money was my stimulus. I viewed education as a valuable asset that would increase my chances of finding a higher paying job. I viewed it as an investment, and never a fulfilled dream.
I studied what I had to in order to survive, to get a job, make good money, establish a career. In the ideal world, I would love to study Russian Literature and, transfer my knowledge and interpretation of famous literary works to my students. It never happened.
In Lithuania I chose to study Library Science. You are probably wondering what financial gain was in majoring in Library Science. First, it was the easiest way to learn the Lithuanian language. My mother tongue was Russian. In the early nineties, when Lithuania declared independence, the Lithuanian language was declared the official language. You simply did not have a choice but to learn it. Second, to find a good job, besides mastering the Lithuanian language, you had to have a higher education diploma. Our new country loved educated people.
I could not get into prestigious majors such as English language and Journalism because that would have required a substantial bribe that my family could not afford. I settled on Library Science, and graduated with a Master’s Degree. I never worked in libraries. Instead, I got a job with a small business company that propelled my career and caused marital trouble.
A few years later, I moved to the United States. You most likely heard the expression “history repeats itself.” In my case, it was again money and a potential well-paying job that motivated my pursuit of an education. I figured that after five successful years in business, I was not going to choose a library as my career in the Unites States. I never worked in one, and, even though, I loved libraries and books, the idea of being a librarian never attracted me.
Money can be a very powerful motivator, especially when you are in a foreign country, trying to figure out how to build your new life. I am not a gold-digger. I always rely on myself and no one else to achieve stability and security in life.
My plan was simple: I had to learn English, and from my past experience I knew that taking college classes is the best and fastest way to learn a new language. However, I encountered two main issues with an education in the U.S.. I had to pay a lot of money that I did not have. The absence of funds led me to the idea of getting good grades, applying for all possible scholarships, getting a job as soon as I could and, acquiring student loans. The second big problem was to have a plan to pay off those student loans after I’ve got my education.
So here I was, in a country that offered so much and required a lot in return. I could finally pursue my dream of being a writer or a journalist. But would my writing pay off my student debt? I had my doubts. In the end, I’ve got myself a Master’s in Accounting, just to be sure that my future paycheck would be enough to cover my bills.
I never gave up on my dream to become a writer. I am still pursuing it. In the meantime, I have a great job and career that pays my bills. Sometimes it is intellectually satisfying. Sometimes it is emotionally draining. I call it life.
If you do have a degree, what was your drive in choosing it?