Friday, February 18, 2011

Self worth...for what it's worth

Tonight I sat down with the tribal counsel (Nadia,Raven and Sakina) and we talked about careers. Nothing too earth shattering, but it made me start to wonder. Why can't what you want to do be what pays the bills? Let me unpack this a little. What I mean is not everyone wants to be a doctor, lawyer, businessman, or engineer. Unfortunately, today's lucrative world sort of ends with those professions. If you're not on the track to being one of those you're on the track, to being broke. Now I know some people look at this and say "You're never broke when you love what you do." or "Money doesn't buy happiness." or "I'd rather be happy than be rich." These sentiments are all nice IF you have no debt, you're from means, or you have a guaranteed path set before you and that's where the schism lies.

Many people come out of high school knowing what they want to do. They go to college to pursue that career and at some point they realize that their lofty idealistic goal bears a very sparse and low paying fruit. It may be a noble goal that you're reaching for, maybe starting a rec center for under-privileged kids or an animal shelter, but you soon find out that neither of those will pay your bills. You'll find a whole community, city, or even a state official that may commend you on your work, but they will also drive off in a car that is worth more than your salary for the year, but at least you can say you go home happy. Well, that's if you can afford a home to go to. Maybe you'll take the bus back to your one bedroom apartment on a sketchy side of town, and then once you get there you can open up a can of tuna and enjoy your days work. You can have that happy feeling of doing something. I guess that's something that can keep a person going. I just think it's unfortunate that the more you try to do the right (noble) thing, the bigger gap you find yourself facing from living comfortably. Why must a person "suffer" through a job that they hate for a number of years in order to pursue something they really "want" to do? I don't think it's right or fair that society today puts its value on things that don't allow people to truly pursue their passions. When was the last time you saw an artist go to college and come out as a well to do member of society? Who was the last trombone player you saw come out of college and win a Grammy? Who was the last teacher that you knew that was able to go to a car dealership and put down 20% on a new car? These questions are ones that America doesn't want to answer or deal with because that would then start paying people for their passions and more people would end up wealthy, but that can't be. Those in power already have their friends and they're not looking for any company at the top.

In the end, you have to choose. Do you want to be happy or to be paid? In the rare occasion you can have both. Either love what you do or be happy where you are. I don't see this problem being solved anytime soon, so I wish you well in your endeavors and many years of happiness.
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