The WCOID – Day 17, On Happiness and Money

0045 number 17The Writing Challenge of Indeterminate Duration – Day 17
* You know when it comes down to a decision between the job that pays well and the job that’s fun? He made the colossal mistake of picking the fun job.
* The best advice for a teen just graduating from high school.

I know what some of you must be thinking. And no, it’s not a mistake. I have, in fact, selected two different writing prompts from 642 Thing To Write About. And yes, I’ll be addressing both of them … simultaneously! As you’re reading, you might think that it doesn’t look all that hard and that maybe you should take a run at it. But please don’t. I’m a professional and I’ve trained for exactly this kind of writing scenario. It only looks easy because of my incredible skills; but make no mistake, it’s dangerous and requires absolute concentration. Once moment of distraction, and you could end up with a misspelling, incorrect punctuation, or even a sentence ending in a preposition … and I don’t want to feel responsible for anything like that happening to any of you.

So sit back and enjoy the read, and let’s all write safe out there.

Initially, I was only going to write only about the first topic and how much I disagree with it. But when I came across the second one, it hit me that there are kids out there. Kids with access to books! And even though the chances of a kid picking up a relic like a printed book are slim, the possibility still exists. And I’m sure 642 Things must be available on line or as an e-book, so the danger is real.

I began thinking about how I’d feel is some poor kid saw that topic and actually believed making money was more important than having fun. Would I be able to live with myself? I have kids in my life, and I lie to them all the time because it’s a cheap and easy way to entertain myself. It took some doing to convince my niece that her mother had never actually been a helicopter pilot and that her father wasn’t now, and had never been, a lumberjack. But it was worth it just to imagine her insisting to her pre-school teacher that it was all true.

My lies are fun and entertaining (for me, anyway … and that’s what matters), and rarely have the potential to result in serious injury. But planting a seed, however small, that could lead a child to take a joyless road to riches rather than the fulfilling path to happiness, that is beyond irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

I know there are exceptions to every rule, which is where we get the saying “there are exceptions to every rule.” Some kids know what they want to do with their lives from a very early age. And some are even fortunate enough to have a dream career that pays well. I know a kid who lived and breathed baseball and he’s now in the MLB, so he’s got happiness and money to burn.

People like him exist so those of us who aren’t willing to put in the work necessary to reach a goal, have someone to resent. And nothing is quite as effective at distracting us from our role in a situation, as resenting a person who has nothing to do with it or with us.

But most recent high school graduates aren’t laser focused on a career, and even fewer have the talent and ability to be a professional athlete. And half of us are female; which means that even if she has what it takes to be a professional athlete, she may find that going pro is somewhat less lucrative for women than it is for men.

On the bright side, women generally earn about 77% of what their males counterparts make. So even if your sports dreams don’t come true, you can still have the thrill of receiving a smaller paycheck.

I went for the batter paying job, and for years it was great. It was my first time in that field, I was learning a lot and doing new things, the people were great and appreciated what I was doing, and it was before the whole economy did a major face-plant. Companies had money, so we actually got raises. Big ones!

shinylBut then we were acquired by another company and soon we were all out of work. By that time I’d been in the position for about 13 years and I didn’t know how to do anything else … or at least nothing that paid as well. So I took a similar job at a different company. And guess what? I was absolutely miserable. And being miserable made me a lousy employee, and that made me more miserable because I’d never sucked so bad at a job. Fortunately, that economy thing was going on and people were getting laid off, so my boss jumped on the opportunity to get rid of me.

What I realized was that it hadn’t so much been the work I enjoyed, it was who I worked with and for. I liked the company, I liked the people and we had fun at work. And even when it wasn’t fun, it was still good because I wasn’t miserable. The only thing I walked away with from the second company was a profound sense of relief and the feeling I’d developed some kind of employment-related PTSD.

As far as I’m concerned, the colossal mistake is chasing a paycheck while promising yourself that it’s just a job and not a career, and that very soon you’ll find time to do what you love and what makes you happy. But it should really be done the other way around. Do whatever it is that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and find someone who’ll pay you to do it. It won’t be easy, but it beats waking up one day with the realization that you blew it, and there are no do-overs.


  1. There’s a scene from Daria, at sigh school career fair sitting the auditorium and I assume she gets asked something, her response is,”my goal is not to wake at 40 with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life on a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”



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