I think in my post “Decision-making time,” I did not actually articulate which decision I made. I like to keep my readers in suspense, I suppose. I ended up picking Job B. And I am happy that I did. When the partner that you sent your acceptance letter to responds by saying that this is the best news he’s heard all month, and it’s the last day of the month, you know you did the right thing.
And as you know, it was not an easy decision. The other firm asked me to explain what made my other offer more attractive. In a medium-length email, I explained some of the things that I articulated in my previous post. But there is a set of information which has just become incorporated into my being and cannot be explained.
Probably about a year and a half ago, I was introduced to the world of podcasts. My collection of subscribed podcasts has grown and grown, and a few months ago, it occurred to me that I could probably listen to something more personally beneficial than just true crime stories and tales of injustice around the world. I searched for something along the lines of personal development and was introduced to Optimal Living Daily.
For anyone who doesn’t know, there are several podcasts under the Optimal Living Daily umbrella. Each of them are narrations of blog posts from various authors. One is the basic Optimal Living Daily podcast which discusses general topics of personal development. One is Optimal Health Daily which discusses exercise and diet and fitness in general. One is Optimal Finance Daily which discusses saving and investing and finances in general. There is also one based on Start-Ups and Business, but I don’t listen to that one since I don’t run my own business. Most recently, they added one regarding relationships as well which I really enjoy.
Recently, the OLD family hit some major milestones and some books were given out. I was lucky enough to win a book in a raffle and opted for “Everything That Remains” by the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Through a combination of the podcasts and reading this book, I have recalled/learned some things that are/aren’t important to me.
Something that is not important to me: Stuff. When I moved to Oregon, I put everything I wanted in the back of my car and my brother and I drove across the country. When I moved back to Michigan, I put everything I wanted in the back of my car and my dad and I drove across the country. I lived in my aunt’s house when I returned and I barely touched it. Then I moved into a camper in my parents’ driveway. Then I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend. I don’t really remember taking anything with me. He and I bought a house, and I walked away from that without a second thought. The point of all of this is that the THINGS that surrounded me were not important. They never have been. I don’t recall really asking my parents for a lot when I was a kid. I remember spending a lot of time sitting around and reading books or playing at the park with my brother. When I started working, I spent my money on experiences with my friends and drove an $800 car until it died three or four years later. I had hand-me down furniture and for a few years when I lived in Oregon I didn’t even have a bed. I have never paid much attention to my wardrobe. I wear clothes out of necessity, not because I like them. I wear the same items, for the most part, over and over again because they are comfortable, and don’t really think much about shopping and have never concerned myself with fashion. People who have commented on the fashion of others in my presence have always confused me. I hate having to organize stuff in my house and constantly clear off the counters and find places to put things that aren’t necessary for life.
Something that is important to me: People. One of the reasons I like to have money is because I like to share it with people. I am always thinking of thoughtful gifts that I wish I had money to buy. I want to contribute to causes and ease the suffering of others. One of the sources of my social anxiety has been not finding people whose love for others matches my own. I enjoy discussing ideas and books and the experiences that I could be having with others. But instead, I just sit at home and read my books and comment about them online. I also really love food, and part of what I love about it is cooking for others or taking them to restaurants to share things that I think taste good.
So yes, money is important to me, but not simply for the having of it. When I thought about having to work really hard to have more money, it did not appeal to me, because I would be stressed out all the time. I worried about having to take cases that made me feel icky inside just so I could meet my billing goals. I thought about having to stand up in court and articulate positions that made my moral compass spin out of control. There are plenty of people/lawyers out there who would be able to do that, but I really don’t think I’m one of them.
And thankfully, Justin Malik from OLD and the Minimalists helped me realize that THAT’S OKAY. I can make do with less. I can find other avenues of satisfaction than jumping into the rat race and getting a move on. If I had really wanted the “success” of a profit-driven life, I would have already been on that path. I would have gone to law school right out of undergrad. I would have researched and done everything I could to have aced the interview for the summer associate position at the huge lawfirm after my first year. I would be holed up in a law firm somewhere right now, only coming up for air in the darkness like some kind of vampire. And I would have the money that I wanted. But obviously that wasn’t what I wanted, because that wasn’t what I did. Instead, I picked opportunities that allowed me to help people. I chose opportunities that allowed me to live and work where I wanted to, instead of where I was told to go.
It probably helps that I come from a family who has also not particularly valued things. I mean, my grandparents lived with us when I was a kid. My parents always drove used cars and my dad fixed them to keep them going. We didn’t shop name brands and who knows where our clothes even came from. Food was nothing fancy but it was made at home. I knew people who had money (at least more than we had) and never saw anything that interested me about what they had going on. Dreams were not a part of life; we just did what we had to do and what we wanted to do. I think about my grandparents a lot when I think about my future. Would they have been happier as millionaires? I don’t think so. They were happy to have each other and be able to walk on the beach or go for a bike ride, or do an obstacle course race on golf carts at the campground where they stayed in Florida during the winters. They could have had more, but they had enough.
So as much as I worry about whether the money will be enough, I know that it will. I know that my happiness will be the measure of my success. And I’m already happy with my decision. I know that these lawyers will ensure that I have a successful career in the true sense of the word: that I will stick with it and do good in the world and that I won’t get burnt out by twisting my morals until I can’t recognize them anymore. I made my decision by looking into my heart, and being happy with what I saw.