Education and the Iranian

6 08 2009

As a woman of Iranian heritage, it is beyond an understatement to say that becoming educated was an important part of my life. It was in fact everything to my family, as it is for most Iranians. Every Iranian child grows up knowing that they must be a doctor or an engineer, and if you achieve anything less than a master’s degree you may as well be a high school dropout. My parents actually took this to the extreme, if you can believe that there is more of an extreme. When I once suggested that I was considering pursuing a Ph.D. in biology rather than medicine, my father said that would be embarrassing to the family. He responded to my sister the same way when she expressed her desire to be a veterinarian.

Eventually, my parents softened on the whole education thing. They maybe even summoned up a little bit of pride when I earned my M.A.  — at least there is an “M” in that degree right? Even better when I began working towards a doctoral degree. Well, the doctoral degree turned out to not be my thing. It was the wrong program, wrong study/research topic, just wrong everything for me, and I didn’t want to start over elsewhere. Plus, I was tired of struggling to pay the bills. I began to focus more on my career.

Still, my parents have done their job. Because somewhere in the back of my mind there is always that nagging thought that I am a big, uneducated loser. I hate feeling this way about myself. What I hate even more is that I sometimes catch myself thinking about Azita’s future in the same way. Yes. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I look at my not quite 7 month old daughter and realize that I’m wondering whether she will be a doctor or an engineer and that I’m hoping that she will go to Harvard or Yale medical school.

And then I think, WTF. What am I thinking? It’s ok to have hopes and dreams for my daughter, but her own hopes and dreams are more important. She has to live her own life, and I want it to be a life that she wants to live even if it’s not the one I hoped she’d choose. Most of all, I never want her to have that nagging doubt about her worth no matter what she decides to do. It’s right about here in this thought process, when I finally come to this conclusion at the end of this little conversation in my head that I always realize that I am the mother I hoped I would be. And, that makes me anything but a loser.

Zahra

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