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
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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.


I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.


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