Last week, I asked the beautiful crowdsource what they would be doing with their lives if money weren’t a factor.
The responses I received broke my heart. The majority of you would be doing something completely different if not for those goddamn Benjamin Franklins.
Money is the most arbitrary measure of a person’s worth, a material designed by humans to generate efficiency … and impose limits. The monetary system is singularly man’s best and worst invention.
Some of us would be in the same place regardless of the paycheck. But on the other hand, so many of us would be living a whole nother life if we weren’t hemmed in by loans, debts, and credit scores. Plastic and paper.
As for my opinion? Chase dreams. You only get one life to do it. But hell, what do I know?
Here’s what you had to say*:
*I value all of your submissions. However, due to a high volume of responses, I couldn’t include all of them. For some of the submissions, I chopped/edited them down significantly. Serious thank yous to everyone who wrote in — these crowdsource posts wouldn’t be possible or interesting without you!
If it weren’t for the money, some of us would be doing something entirely different:
I’d be a photographer for nature or weddings. Completely different field that isn’t realistic to me right now because I don’t have a developed skillset or much experience taking beautiful pictures. Also it is extremely difficult if not impossible to be a professional photographer unless you are the best of the best. — Sunny, age 21, Development Associate at UC Berkeley
I would go into journalism because I love writing and reporting but there’s no money in print journalism today and the proliferation of online news sources means that wages are depressed and thus I can’t support myself even on a mid-career journalist’s salary. —K, age 23, Student/Finance Writer
I’d be a chef. Cooking is my absolute passion! But unfortunately in the real world, cooking as a profession is rarely able to pay the bills. —Mark Mullan, age 23, Recruiter
I’d be an etymologist. I love studying words and their history, but would never do it now, because of the low income and general drudgery of academia. —Ashley, age 23, Administrative Assistant for travel company
I would want to be a car salesman for a certain brand of luxury cars that I enjoy. They are amazing vehicles and I could think of nothing more fun than being able to see, drive, and admire the latest and greatest models and sharing these amazing vehicles with the public. I am a car geek, but I know that I would be only able to afford these vehicles if I make enough money. Car selling doesn’t really fall under any major, but my economics major will allow me to accumulate wealth faster. If not a salesperson, I would love to sell homes because I love architecture and pretty homes! —A, age 19, Student
I’m struggling to find a balance between passion and money, because if those are at an imbalance, feelings of anger and resentment might occur along with passion, ruining its beauty. If teachers and social workers made a salary like bankers, that would be the dream. But that’s not reality. Of course I would jump into some sector of saving the world in a heartbeat, but that would leave me financially unstable, more in debt, and sooner or later I would have to figure out how to pay it back. Sometimes, supporting your passion requires you to do something you’re not passionate about. Sometimes you can do both. It’s especially difficult if you’re not sure what that passion is. Of course, I would much rather be in Africa or Asia volunteering, helping starving kids get nutrition, but I either have to have loads in my wallet to afford that, or have a stable job that can afford me to do that. Maybe one day I can do both. If only there was a major in that. —HL, age 24, Case Manager-Genentech
There are those of us who have been streamlined into something practical, thanks to the Money Factor:
I’m currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Medical Lab Science. It’s a very stable and decently salaried career. I can tell you right away that if I didn’t have to worry about money I would be doing something else. I’m not sure exactly what it would be, but it wouldn’t be what I’m currently doing. Without the limits that people get placed on them because of financial woes, I feel like it leads people to be themselves more. I wouldn’t have to worry about having to make sure I pursue a career that’s socially acceptable for respect and/or the amount of money made. —Tony Comito, age 21, Student
If money weren’t a factor, I would like a desk job. Something simple like data entry or working on a few big projects. It’s hard to say in this time and age that I want to be a part-time mom. I want to spend as much time with my kids as possible because when I was growing up my parents were so career driven, I hardly saw them. On a positive note, it did allow me to go to school. A part of me wants that lucrative job and to stay relevant with my friends. But the other part of me wants to be a mom. I got a B.S in Biology because they said it’s a good degree to get a job. But in today’s market my only choices are medical or research. I wish I could just study sociology and people watch all day. —Anonymous, age 25, Tutor
Then there are those of us who would just get up and see the world:
If money played a nonexistent factor in my life, I would pack a bag, buy a one way ticket to Seoul and work at a hostel for a place to stay and then pick up any random jobs for living expenses and travel throughout Asia. This has nothing to do with what I majored in and would probably not be approved by any parent. Why I want to do this is because this idea of living brings a huge notion of happiness and contentment that I haven’t had since graduating. —VA, age 24, recently quit from an admin job
It’s not a matter of what type of job I would have if money didn’t matter. I love my job and research is my profession of choice. I find that the real issue is what would I be doing outside of my job if money wasn’t a factor. I’ve seen only the slightest sliver of this world and I don’t have the money (and I suppose also the time) to see the whole damn thing. Why do plane tickets have to be so expensive? Can’t a girl travel without having to live in permanent debt? Because more than anything else, I want see it all for myself. —KM, age 21, Pre-Doctoral Research Associate
If money were not a factor I would be in a similar position to where I am right now, which is nowhere. I think I would want to be a travel writer if I could be anything … I’m holding out for the hope that at any point in my life I can choose to take years off and travel and write, provided I have saved money or win a grant. I don’t think it will be possible to spend my entire life doing it though, and perhaps I wouldn’t even want to. I hope to be many things: a writer, scholar, and activist among them. —KS, age 22, unemployed
If money wasn’t a factor, I would be a travel writer. I would travel all over the world and write about the amazing things I would see and experience. If I could find a job that pays well, gives me benefits, and lets me take massive amounts of leave, I’d be on a plane to Europe (I’ve visited some Asian countries already because it is waaaay cheaper). —R, age 23, Instructor
If money didn’t matter, I’d be in Europe right now. I’d get out of California. I’d just be bumming throughout all the countries in Europe, writing whatever I wanted, eating whatever I wanted, living life with no deadlines for once in my life. I love my work (which I chose despite the small paychecks) and I get bored when I don’t have a job, but I just wonder what it would be like to not have any commitments. People keep telling me I better be a free spirit while I’m still young, but I still need a paycheck, you know? —JR, age 22, Newspaper Reporter
Finally, the arts. The ever elusive arts.
If money weren’t a factor I would have attempted to go into fashion, design, or costuming for Hollywood. However, the chances of making it big are low. Conversely, if grades weren’t valued so much I would go into Business or CS because I actually like those majors but I’m bad at math —R, age 20, Student
I would definitely spend some time teaching, other times writing. Ideally, I’d love to work with the elderly! They need more TLC in general so maybe I could teach them a couple classes a week. I could also spend time writing novels, movie scripts and poetry. I would also love to get into writing for films and TV at some point. —R, age 23, Teacher
Currently, I’m an IT consultant, which I hate. I personally feel like I don’t have any “lucrative” skills so when this job (which offered training) fell into my lap, it was hard to pass up especially given my financial situation at the time. But now my life has become “Office Space.”
If money were not a factor, I’d be training in aerial/circus arts: pole, lyra (aerial hoop), silks, aerial hammock/sling, and trapeze. My primary focus is pole dancing though and I’m not talking about being a stripper. To see what I REALLY mean: look up any performance by Bendy Kate or Sergia Louise Anderson on Youtube.
Aerial arts is something I only just started doing a year ago and is something that has given me so much confidence and passion. Many people relate it to gymnastics, but it’s also about flow and expression. It’s such an empowering experience to combine strength with your own style of movement, whether it’s sensual, lyrical, theatrical, etc. Every time I nail a new move, it means I’m getting stronger, more flexible, and illustrates tangible progress towards expanding my repertoire of skills.
I’m not very good (yet!) but I would love to eventually become an instructor and help other people find that same confidence and sense of accomplishment. Also, to show the world that pole dancing is also an ART and not just for “girls with daddy issues twerking for some dollas”.
It’s such a difficult situation because in order to really excel in the aerial community, you need to train but in order to train, you need money. So to get that money, I work. And when you work a full-time job, your availability to train is limited. —Angela Gabbie, age 23, IT Consultant
However, there are a few of us who say fuck it, “do it for the love”:
I’m not job-hunting yet, but I’m still not going to sell my soul to go do something that’s going to rake in bank. Money aside, I’d still stick with poli sci/IR/conflict resolution because like Sam Smith, I do it for the love — Mikaela, age 21, Student
If money weren’t a factor, why would you even work? I’d just do whatever interested me whenever I felt like it. —Anonymous, age 25, Student
I’d want to be making strides to bring mental health education into schools, just as physical education is already. Or anything really in the field of mental health. The money doesn’t have too much effect on what I want to/aim to do, though it does mean it’s just a heck of a lot more work to give myself the chance to follow my dreams instead of feeling burdened down with debt. As for the why, I have a passion for working in mental health and helping people. I’m going to follow that no matter what, whatever obstacles/circumstances may arise. —Katie E, age 22, Education Non-Profit
I want to work towards reworking the globalized economic system that entrenches inequality and destruction of the planet. That wouldn’t change with or without money. —Maryam Al-Dabbagh, age 20, Law Student