Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make, leaving an indelible mark on who you are as a person and carving out possible futures for you. We don’t often think of it in terms of real numbers, but your career choice can cost you a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of a lifetime. What is the cost of choosing passion over high profits and vice versa?
First let’s agree that everything has a cost. Waking up in the morning costs me $12 on average. $2 for coffee, $5 on gas, $6 on lunch and a $2.50 energy drink to get me through the afternoon slump. That’s before I even leave work, so it cost me $12 to work today. Such is life, and life without a sufficient amount of cash flow is stressful. Ask Obama’s hair.
Furthermore, we have all heard it 1,000 times, we college students, about how the humanities are “fluffy”, a waste of time, and unmarketable. We’ve also heard the counterarguments. Humanities majors can write and think critically and synthesize information. But let’s get real, most majors that involve following a passion involve a pay cut. As the education level increases, the less likely it is that it will pay off. A graduate student of philosophy, for example… need I say more?
On the flip side, having more money has a cost associated with it as well. Sometimes it costs you a passion, it will always cost more time, energy and relaxation with your significant other and friends.
I think of the progression I followed from elementary school (obsession with fame, MUST be known by everyone) to high school (huge un-channeled ambition to be a high-powered something) to the money-hungry days of my freshman year in college. I had to be rich, not filthy rich, I’d settle for something in the millions of dollars in salary a year. Not too much to ask, right?
Well, it’s not realistic for one, and even middle class wealth isn’t guaranteed anymore by attending college. A study conducted by Princeton University found that “Although income is widely assumed to be a good measure of well-being, researchers found that its role is less significant than predicted and that people with higher incomes do not necessarily spend more time in more enjoyable ways.” I think it’s fair to say that some people genuinely enjoy being workaholics, 80 hour work weeks, and pouring their purpose into their work. “Success” and $$ coexist in a 1:1 ratio for some people. What if you’re not one of them? Are you paying attention to that little voice in your head?
For me, I’ve realized that mid-level income is by no means mediocrity. There is nothing mediocre about my life. I’m surrounded by family that I love, I go to work every day to a job I enjoy, I feel accomplished when I leave, and I have spare time to hang out with friends, read a book or catch up on my favorite TV shows.
I have time to slow down when I want, time to hear my own thoughts. I smell the roses. College is a totally crappy time to slow down and think. What are the things you associate with the word college? Drinking? Stress? Being poor? It’s not a great time to slow down and think, but determining what makes you happy might be the most important thing you do in your college career.
I’m reading Life-Span Development