The burden of making decisions at a young age
For the bigger part of my life, I was unsure of what I would like to do in the future. Surprisingly, I was a good student, always present, hard-working and getting good grades. I was respectable towards my peers and teachers, easy to get along with. However, when my high school best friend told me in 6th grade she wanted to study law and become a lawyer, I was impressed and slightly jealous. She was 12, how could she be so sure? At this age, my future dreams were changing with the weather. I wanted to be a florist, a psychologist, a teacher, run a flower shop, be a translator, run an animal rescue farm, or a plantation! Being set in one particular destination was rather scary to me. What if I miss out on other dreams or make a wrong turn in my path? At least I did know three professions I was not interested in, as it helped to narrow down my choices. The three professions were:
- Law/Politics – as I found it extremely boring to study at a time.
- Medicine – I was never scared of blood, but dealing with other people’s wounds still gives me goosebumps. I also childishly believed that all doctors must have this inner calling to help people, which I thought I lacked.
- Management – at a time, it sounded like everyone was a manager and I could not grasp what they actually did to make their work so important. I basically wrote it off as a “lame” profession that everyone can do.
Funnily enough, I had very little clue about the actual labour market in Lithuania, what opportunities there are and what everyday work looks like. The professions I was aiming for were either introduced to me by my immediate environment or seen through movies.
Fast-forward to the graduation; my friend did not waver and focused on applying to study law at several local universities. In the meantime, I had a funny-looking list of programmes I tried to apply to:
- Lithuanian and Finnish languages – were my passion and dream at the time.
- Psychology – was a serious second choice, as I worried I may not get into the languages. I also genuinely wanted to help people work through their issues.
- Management and Business Administration – added to the list by my family just to fill a spot, since, students could only get 5 spots at a time and they wanted me to use all 5. I was sure I would get into the first two anyway, so I did not resist much.
- English Pedagogy – languages was what I was good at and I figured it’s a safe backup plan.
- Psychology Pedagogy – another nice option placed last. To know that if anything goes wrong, I can at least do psychology and teaching. Both options 4 and 5 were at the same university, where I already had passed the admissions tests.
Bear in mind, I did graduate very well with high grades from class subjects and final exams too, however, I could not afford to pay for my studies. Luckily, in Lithuania, when you do well, you can get a government-paid position at the university. Such positions were limited, but that was ultimately what I was aiming for. Another thing worth mentioning is that to get into any university, your grades are counted into a score, and you are also competing against other applicants as the overall spots are very limited.
At this point, I can announce that I failed to get into my first two choices at all. Was I sad? Yes, I was pretty crushed and confused (probably the first time in my life that my efforts did not pay off). I did, however, get into Management and Business Administration, my third choice on the list. This made me even sadder, as I had no interest in studying this at all. However, it was a government-paid spot and the choice was obvious for my family, they were proud and happy for me. I on the other hand was still stunned by how the first two were such a miss. Actually, once you get accepted, the document needs to be provided within a month and there was an opportunity to travel with my sister and do so (as it was in the capital, and I am from a small resort). I also wanted to get a dormitory room, so time was of the essence. Trying to keep my family proud, I went along with it and signed up for the paid study position at Vilnius University. Meanwhile, my bestie got into law school, obviously.
It feels weird to write about this now, as I already see so many other paths I could have taken, but I was simply too young to know any better. Thus, I moved to Vilnius. I lived in a tiny dorm room (shared with two other people) close to my university to study Management and Business Administration. Yes, the very thing I thought I would never choose. To say that there was an internal struggle would be an understatement. I certainly felt like the odd one out there. However, I did not stop or give up. I was used to studying hard and getting through. I consoled myself by knowing that it is still an experience and that I am not only learning the ‘trade’ but also growing and maturing as an individual, so being in such an environment was still a benefit.
For my internship, I got into an international logistics company, where I continued to work as a manager for a few years after graduation. It was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much, and it broke my little heart to think that in some ways, a few years on the job had taught me more than my 4-year bachelor. Eventually, the work got a little intense and started to leak too much into my private time after work hours and weekends. I became snappy and tense, so I decided it was time for a change. I always wanted to go abroad, yet somehow I went with the flow and did not risk it. Always choosing the safe and “easy” option. Until one day, I decided to take a leap of faith.
To be continued…
If you are reading this and recognizing a little bit of yourself in my musings, please reach out so we can have a chat about the scary decision-making process and the overwhelming amount of opportunities.
Read part 2 here!Vind ik leuk