Wrong Way To Motivate

A certain post in one of my Facebook groups reminded me of something from high school.

When I was in tenth grade (for the second time due to transferring schools), one of my teachers once mentioned planning to get her master’s degree. In what subject, I forgot, but I suppose I asked her about it. I really don’t remember what I said, but I do remember her answer. She told me she was pursuing it because she wanted to be able to walk into a store for a pair of $600 shoes and say she has the money for them.

I didn’t know what to think of that. To this day, I still don’t. I do now understand her intention with that answer was likely motivating me to take my own schoolwork more seriously, but that came off as an extremely shallow reason. I realize she meant she was trying to financially better herself, but surely, there was a better way to phrase it.

I won’t lie and pretend I don’t like shopping. I do, and in the last few years, clothes have made the list of what I like to shop for (when it’s of my own wishes, not someone else’s). But I don’t think there’s any article of clothing on the planet that looks so appealing, I’d be willing to give $600 for a single quantity of it. Especially not clothing that’s worn on the ground! One “talent” I do have is the tendency to give my shoes a pounding. That $600 would become a waste in 2 to 3 months.

Obviously, these are my values, but I don’t like the idea of materialism being a motivator for education. For starters, education itself is expensive. I think I’d sound very funny if I told someone I spent thousands of dollars to be able to blow thousands of dollars. That sort of reason would likely motivate only someone whose end goal was wealth. My end goal is stability, which is not synonymous with wealthiness. That doesn’t mean I’d complain if I were rich. It means it’s not necessary for me to be happy. For me, when I can say I fully support myself without living paycheck to paycheck, I’ll see myself as successful, regardless of what the number allowing me that privilege is.

For the sake of not coming off as “holier than thou”, I’ll say right now I do not think I’m better than anyone whose end goal is wealth and purchasing multi-hundred dollar clothing. If that teacher’s given reason makes sense to someone else or motivates, great. I’m just not that person. Yes, there are expensive things I do want and sometimes obtain, but those things have many more functional uses than strutting pavement, so I see them as more valuable for my own use.

I’m certainly not above materials. I have a big collection of books, games, DVDs, and dolls, as well as some smaller collectible things like jewelry, boxes, and stuff animals, and I have a $100 phone. Whenever I think about that teacher’s comment, I think about how much $600 could buy besides a single pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s only because she said shoes I found her answer very weird since shoes are meant to be worn outdoors and would naturally ruin over time from use. Maybe she was exaggerating and merely trying to emphasize a point. Maybe she thought that was the goal of all students. Or maybe it was some kind of last resort since I wasn’t an easy student to motivate. I value the job I have now over school, so she wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Only wrong it’s money I care about most.

I do plan to return to school, but I have my own motivation and finance is only a part of them. The most important parts are somewhat intangible. And one is human.


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