Sunday, February 19, 2012

Money < Happiness...Right?

As the wise Eleanor Roosevelt said:

Well then this post counts for the entire week. With all these career decisions and soul searching, I feel like I'm in the middle of a personal conflict within my own belief system. Like there is a little angel and devil on my shoulder confusing me further than I ever thought possible.
 I was watching "The Pursuit of Happyness" a week or so ago and it really hit a nerve. I've seen the movie plenty of times...I love me some Will Smith. ;) Anyways, who doesn't love a fairy tale story of the common man giving his all to attain the American dream, and celebrate the ability to "pursue happiness?" Although Smith's character claims to be pursuing happiness, what he's actually striving to attain is a high profile career position, and the salary that goes along with it. Then of course with that salary the ability to pay his bills, support his son, and gain personal independence. Does this mean we are naive to think money isn't a building block to overall happiness? This has been a slow coming realization that is disheartening to say the least.

I probably have a unique perspective on this topic because of my background and upbringing. I literally cringe as I type this, but without some weird sugarcoating family has money. That is something I really don't like talking about, and I'll tell you why:
A. You cannot choose what socioeconomic class you are born into, and it says absolutely zero about your character
B. I myself, am quite poor, actually zero income currently to be exact, so taking credit for my family's money is taking credit for my father's success, and that is discrediting his hard work and accomplishments
C. It automatically gives people the opportunity to judge you, and assume that you live a really easy life
Now, I know that my life definitely isn't the norm, and everyone's always shunning the "dreaded 1%." I'm not going to go on some "poor little me" rich girl rant either. All I'm saying is for the outsiders looking in, and those who are out there chasing money at all costs: it isn't everything.

Now it's hard to argue when this is how you take vacations:

And this is one of the houses you visit your Dad and his family in (Along with his next door neighbor Mark, seriously?)
A putting green and chi pond are total necessities right?
And 2 guest houses because the house isn't quite spacious enough
And not to forget we are members of the most elite ski/mountain resort, The Yellowstone Club along with our pal Bill Gates
I realize and appreciate all that I've been privileged enough to have and experience in my life. I was able to attend any university I wanted without any fear of student loans, live a stress free life when it came to money, go on some pretty incredible vacations, and even see the world this summer. Money makes life easier, without a doubt, and I can't relate with many of my friends' real life financial struggles. 

I will say, as cliche as it sounds, I would trade it all to have a tight knit family, and a dad who cared more about attending my lacrosse games than running his healthcare company. But there's just not the hand I was dealt, and there are obviously a lot of really amazing aspects of my life, so complaining is selfish and pointless.

What I don't think people realize is the amount of pressure and responsibility that comes along with this lifestyle. My mother did not spoil me or live the lavish lifestyle that my dad did (although growing up on 10 acres in horse country isn't exactly modest living either). I know the importance of hard work and making your own way in the world. But with this ridiculously high bar to measure up to, it's hard to ever feel like you can really ever consider yourself a success. It's also hard to not look at wealth and money as the negative catalyst to many flaws in my family life. With money comes more complications, and lately I've found myself yearning for a simpler lifestyle. 

Since I was so unhappy in my last job, I've really been thinking, what's in store for my pursuit of happiness? In college I developed a true passion for service and helping others. My philanthropic days and those as a recruitment counselor helping the girls find their place on campus was the most fulfilling and rewarding experience to date.
So then I started thinking, should I pass up the high profile position in the corporate world, and step out of my father's footsteps? Perhaps going back to school is the right decision. But is it really smart to go get my master's in counseling or similar position that may be very fulfilling, but won't pay my bills in the long run? That's the irony of it all isn't it? I'm discovering that it isn't realistic to believe that money plays no role in your happiness, and that's a tough pill to swallow. Now I'm in a struggle of finding a position where I can support myself and cut financial ties, prove I am capable of my own independence, but yet still enjoy what I do for a living and make a difference. 

The meaning behind this whole story is that it's really rare to have it all, but I'm not going to stop striving. I will wake up and love what I do everyday, make a decent living, and have meaningful relationships with people I love all at the same time!....Someday. I guess having even one out of the three is okay for now.

Hope you all are out there living life to your fullest, whether it be in your career or personal life- or hopefully both! I'll just be sulking in my constant life debacle. I'll let you know next week if my upcoming career move is more towards Wall Street or the Peace Corps, it's a toss up as of now! ;)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

August- month of the concerts!

It's official...I am unemployed yet again! By choice of course. I have had several interviews, but nothing to write home about. Hopefully something absolutely wonderful will just fall into my lap shortly. That's totally how it happens right?! For some reason I'm not freaking out just yet. Perhaps it's the reinforcement from my friends, family, and co-workers that I made the right decision. Or maybe it's just my body going into a temporary shock by my steadily depleting bank account. Anyways, I digress....The REAL topic of this post is finishing up this 2011 recap. I am slowly realizing that this might have been an overly ambitious project.

August was one of those "all over the place" months. For some reason I decided that I needed to attend EVERY single live concert performance in the DC metropolitan area. That was a responsible way to blow my graduation money...

First started off with the last minute Taylor Swift concert. I've seen Taylor in concert once before and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her again. If you've never gone, or enjoy being surrounded by middle school aged screaming girls, I'd highly suggest it. Her concerts are SO theatrical, she sounds fabulous, and is so overly appreciative of her fan base that you can't help but love her more. 

The next weekend I jet-setted back to Tallahassee for the first time since college graduation. One of my favorite (and craziest) sorority sisters, Stacia, was tying the knot in Biloxi, MS. We decided to make a 4 day weekend out of it and relive our college lives one more time. Stacia moved to England after the wedding with her hubby Chris, so I was so happy to spend time with her before she left.
I got to see my little while in Tallahassee which is always an added plus! :)
All of the ladies outside of our lovely Elvis casino hotel in Biloxi before the wedding
Stacia was the most beautiful bride!
The next concert on the list was Brantley Gilbert. Brandon had invited me with a big group including my roommate. It was definitely nothing too serious and I wouldn't even call it date-worthy. Nevertheless, I was extremely hesitant about accepting his invitation. Things were headed in a great direction, we talked all the time, and I enjoyed getting to know him. Of course, the little known upcoming country artist just happened to be my ex-boyfriend's absolute favorite-of-all-favorite country singers. I really didn't want to run into him since he isn't exactly one of the most even tempered or easygoing guys in the world. (Don't judge me, we've all made at least one monumental lapse in judgement in the dating department.) The last thing I wanted to be responsible for was a real life redneck smack down in the middle of DC. Especially with heartwarming, loving tunes of encouragement such as this one:
Luckily, the 930 club was packed with enough camo wearing rednecks that we steered clear of each other if he was there. Brantley is a badass and the concert was a great time. He has some pretty good slow songs too, if you know what I mean. ;) 

Just 3 short days later, Amanda, Anna-Kate, and I went to the Tim McGraw concert. You can't complain about a summer night drinking beer on the concert lawn, and singing along to his million classics. "Red Rag Top" gets me every time.
As I said before, things were going surprisingly well in the past couple months with Brandon. But eventually things came to a bit of a standstill. I was so used to the guys in college who strung you along for their enjoyment, but when it came to the point of any type of commitment they jumped ship. I hate that weird in-between time, and no one wants to have that "What are we?" talk. I call it "relationship limbo." Considering the time we spent together was solely in group activities, I started to think this was another dead end. But that is the great thing about having a roommate who is best friends with the guy you're talking to. Sometimes guys are a bit clueless or just need a hint in the right direction. Miraculously, a week later, we went on our first real date
He was still living at home at this point, so he came up on his half day and we decided to go to a restaurant within walking distance from my place. Even though we'd been talking for the better part of two months, I was still super nervous. I couldn't remember the last time I went on an actual date. Even though this was everything I wanted from him, I suddenly wanted to call and cancel. Don't worry, I didn't. He came up that afternoon. If he was nervous he never showed it. He's a pretty low key guy, which is one of the reasons I really liked him. We went to Chevy's mexican restaurant, sat in the bar, and stayed from early happy hour through closing. Despite my fears, it was so far from awkward. We talked about any and everything. The only semi uncomfortable part was getting up to leave after he paid, and the walk home. Right when we got outside he grinned at me, squeezed my hand and said, "Aw, we just had our first date!," in a silly joking voice. He still has this weird ability to sense whenever I'm nervous and put me at ease. I knew from that point that I had nothing more to be worried about. 

To round out this month, and to add one more wacky thing to my resume, Danitte and I participated in a huge flashmob at a convention downtown. Don't ask me how I come across these things, but the dance was simple to Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." Although it was slightly mortifying, and included fireworks and smoke machines while we were center stage, we got paid over $200 and had fun with it. 
I miss summer, and am finally starting to have the desire to go to concerts again. Hope you all are having a lovely, unseasonably warm February week!


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