Money can’t buy happiness.
Everyone knows this. We’ve heard this repeated to us from the time we were children trying to figure out what life meant. We are told that the things in life that bring happiness, success, and fulfillment aren’t the things that are bought, but rather the experiences we have, the people we choose to love, and the still, quiet moments.
And we believe all of this. Our innocent child minds think, “I don’t need money! I can go anywhere I want, do anything I want to do! I can be anything! I think I’ll be a baker for the rest of my life…or a gardener…or a dress designer…or a painter…” (Or as a few of my siblings dreamed: A farmer ballerina, Bible Man, and a mail man…) But then that innocence is no longer what dreams are built on when we grow up and learn that life isn’t all that easy. Money is something you have to have and jobs like a baker, gardener, or painter don’t usually cut it. We have to look at the big picture. Instead of fitting life into our dreams, we now have to fit our dreams into our life. And more often than not, that means we have to break those dreams down into little pieces and try to fit them in wherever we can, ending up with a fragmented image of our happiness as dependent on our job and possessions.
But what happened to money can’t buy happiness? If money isn’t more important than our dreams, why then do we need it so badly? Are we forever doomed to working jobs we hate to try and make ends meet, all the while keeping that image of what our life could have been in the far reaches of our mind? Always there to tempt us, but never attainable because of reality. And if money can’t buy happiness…then what does?
I was recently asked by someone close to me what I wanted to do with my life; what my dream job was. And I jokingly answered, “To not work at Wal-Mart my whole life.” Now, I was joking because I do have an idea of what I want to do and where I want to be in a few years. But humor aside, I realized after I said it that my words had a lot of truth in them. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working at Wal-Mart and I am really fortunate to have the job. I could be working somewhere worse or not have a job at all. But if that were my only aspiration in life I would be aiming much too low. However, it does swing the other way too. If I had said that my dream was to have a high paying job I would also be aiming at something less than what I am made for. So…what then? Am I telling everyone to pursue their dreams, regardless of the paycheck and future of their lives?
Well…yes. I am telling you that it is never too late to turn the direction of your life around. If you don’t like something about your situation or where you are heading, change it. We as humans are in a constant state of change and as such, our dreams change and develop as we get older. And that is perfectly okay. I used to want to be a makeup artist. Not that long ago actually, just last summer I still had that dream. I was sure that was the direction my life would take. And then I realized that makeup artistry wasn’t exactly my passion. And so, with the constant support of my Mom, I made the scary decision to pursue journalism at college.
I love writing. I love writing. And more than anything else in my life, I want to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be huge, but I was made to create hope and show people their strength that they never believed in. And I couldn’t do that through makeup. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance that my writing can be my version of success. My fulfillment shouldn’t be someone else’s idea of what my life should look like or what I should do. And my success certainly shouldn’t be measured on the version of success of someone who isn’t me.
Success isn’t measured in your job, or what your paycheck looks like, or the clothes you wear, or the places you have been. If that were the definition of success, I would be failing. I can’t afford to find my fulfillment in the number of likes on my Facebook, the pictures on my Instagram, the views on my blog, the amount of friends I have, the digits in my bank account, the car I drive, the job I work, the places I have traveled, the people I have met, or the “great” things I have done.
My definition of success and fulfillment, the things I base my happiness on, are the dreams I hold onto. Because if I let those go, I lose something far greater than just my idea of my future. I lose the things that make me the person I am. The things I have chosen to work hard for. The stuff I decide is important enough for me to sacrifice the greatest thing I have: my time.
Choose today to stop breaking down the dreams you have and trying to make them fit into your “life.” Your dreams are your life. Don’t let your happiness be dependent on your material things. And never try to measure your dreams up to the dreams someone else has for you. You are in charge of your life, your adventure. So live like it.
Are these just the ramblings of a naïve girl who hasn’t tasted the hardship of life fully? Quite possibly. Am I a 19 year old who is desperately trying to hang on to the shiny and bright future that I always imagined? Absolutely. Because what future would I have if I didn’t still have big dreams for myself?
Don’t ever give up on the dreams of your future. Be ridiculous, do outrageous things, dream big. Be a baker, or a painter, or a blogger, or a YouTuber. Do what makes you feel alive.
Believe you can fly, and don’t let the land dwellers tie you down with reality.