I was frantic and unsure of everything. I called my sister during my lunch hour and asked her point blank: Is this it?
It was my first job out of college, and it was not what I had expected. I thought this job was purpose-driven, focused on doing good rather than doing well, but I quickly found out it was all about the money money money.
I chose the job over others in large part because of that money. It felt good to think of myself as a high-roller, someone who could easily say, “Don’t worry, fellas, I got this round.” I wanted to be a hot shot with stocked pockets. In the meantime I forgot about what my soul wanted.
Growing up you are often told that success means making as much money as you want. Hopefully this didn’t happen to you, but for the rest of us we were bombarded with direct (“Is that really a good career for you, honey?”) and indirect cues (“Sandra’s son is so successful. He already has a two-story house!”) that dug deep into your psyche. As soon as they got into your noggin they were hard to ignore.
And maybe you do want to make loads of money. Maybe that truly is your definition of success. For the rest of us, though, it’s a value system we can accidentally buy into. We don’t choose it, but we don’t not choose it either. You get a taste of it and you like it, because it’s nice having that freedom, that control. Gold handcuffs are hard to take off.
I am slowly finding out that money is important, but only as a utility. Money is good at lessening the bad, but not increasing the good; at moving obstacles out of the way, but shitty at motivating you to thrive. Money is meant to be used, not for it to use you. When thinking of a salary, think about what you truly need (your expenses, your definitely certain plans and goals), and work to get enough money for that. Beyond that, gold is just a deadweight that will drag you into the wrong places.