As a child, I was always jealous of my friends who talked about taking piano lessons or buying the latest video games for their birthdays. Those pleasures of life were never and could never become realities for me and my family back then. There was barely enough money to spend on the necessities and, as a naive child, I always wished that somehow, through some miraculous act, we could have just a little bit more.
Since then, making ends meet has become less of a burden, but the question of how to make more money remains in the back of my mind.
And now, more than ever, I think about money. I think about the astronomic law school debt I’m accruing. I think about the immense burden my siblings and I are placing on my parents for all attending school at the same time (medical school, law school, and, now, college). I think about the shaky economy and its ability to end my parents’ collective livelihood with terrifying ease. I think about illustrious positions at big name law firms with starting salaries that dwarf the amount of money my parents collectively make in a single year (together, their income will never rise above that of a big firm associate). I think about the public interest field I want to work in and how little money those attorneys make in comparison.
I think about how much life would be better – how much life would be easier – if I could just have a little bit more money.
But to what extent can we balance the need for money to pay for life’s necessities with what can turn into a dangerous addiction and desire to always wanting more? How can we balance the nebulous desire to live a satisfying life (“do what you love”) with the very real financial obstacles that can prevent some people from eating regular meals? I don’t know the answers to these questions and I’m still trying to figure out how exactly my value system and priorities fit with the very real need to have cash on hand.
By no means am I an exception. By no means is my family’s story the most devastating or tragic. In all honesty, this narrative of life revolving around finances and money is all too common in modern society and, in the future, I can’t see an end to this unrepentant feedback loop that just spirals deeper and deeper into black-hearted greed.
Perhaps this viewpoint is overly pessimistic on my part, but for me money means the ability to have more resources and possessing resources equals attaining power. Though some may espouse models of meritocracy and education as engines of rising up in society, those are only the means; there’s no question is that the end is always about the money and having things. The real question, though, is much more nuanced. Is having power equal to being successful? Is having money the same thing as being happy?
A well written piece on money. I also recommend the articles sited at the end of the post for some insightful reading.