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! ;)


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