Money or Happiness?

Money or Happiness?

The struggles of the new graduate

It is no secret that student loan debt is an epidemic these days. As someone who just graduated from a doctorate-level program, my student loans are piled high and extremely overwhelming. I am sure that many fellow graduates from any type of program know and feel the same struggles. United we all stand, young, wild and maybe not so free due to the financial burden of it all.

Along with student loan debt come dreams and aspirations. I have always dreamed of traveling and working with the pediatric population post-graduation. Unfortunately I am in a situation in which travel jobs and pediatric therapy do not necessarily mix and pediatric jobs themselves are generally lower-paying and require more experience than other clinical settings. Amidst my job search, I have tried to keep my options open, this includes the option of taking a higher-paying, non-pediatric job close to home in order to get an early jump on paying back my student loans.

So I have a choice: money or happiness? This is a choice I think that many of us face, especially when looking for that first full-time job in our field of study. I have had a lot of trouble with this decision because I worry that if I don’t go travel and adventure now then I never will; life will catch up to me, I will settle down and responsibilities will build making these dreams less conceivable. I have spoken to some friends and it seems that I am not alone in my worries. At the same time, wouldn’t it be more logical to take that higher-paying job with better benefits, build up my savings and begin alleviating the heavy weight on my shoulders of debt? Then I could finally use my earnings to go travel and to have those adventures in a more carefree and relaxed manner.

But then my heart takes over the thoughts of my head and I want to go rather than stay. I want the clinic full of kiddos and to go to new places, letting my imagination and independence shine. So I guess that I have a new choice to make: head or heart? I have people in my corner no matter the decision for which I am more than grateful. They tell me that if I need to go, then go, but if I need to stay, then stay.

You may be asking "Are money and happiness necessarily mutually exclusive?" I have been asking myself the exact same thing, hoping that during my job search I stumble upon that substantially paying pediatric job that is willing to hire a new graduate with limited experience (you know since most places want you to have experience to gain experience -- yet another dilemma that we face). To those of you who somehow scored that dream job in that dream location with a beautifully substantial paycheck, cheers to you; however, for the rest of us I think it is important to remember that we are just getting started and everyone needs to start somewhere. We can achieve the dream job with the substantial paycheck, just maybe not right away.

I don’t really know what the future holds, but I think that either way I will be okay and you will be too. Just because you take that logical job right out of school doesn’t make you a sell-out, it makes you a determined person that is willing to grin and bear it until you can go on the adventure of a lifetime. At the same time, just because you take the lower-paying job and go on adventures right out of school (whatever they may be, far or local) doesn’t make you irresponsible, it just means that your heart needs what it needs and I think that to recognize that is a very responsible thing.

For those of you struggling just like me, I have no doubt that we will get there. Just promise me that you will stick to that five or ten year plan and follow those dreams whether it be now or later. There is nothing wrong with using your head, but don’t neglect that amazing heart of yours. We didn’t spend years in school to not eventually end up right where we want to be. So money or happiness? That is completely up to you. As for me, I'm going to let my heart decide.

Cover Image Credit: Coaco
Cover Image Credit: GuideOn Blog
Cover Image Credit: Linkis

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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