This week it’s been all about the money, or rather lack thereof. Or rather my fear/worry/anxiety about money and exactly what I’m willing to do or sacrifice. No don’t worry this isn’t a blog about my experiments with prostitution or drug dealing, although....
Prostitution is a useful metaphor for how I view the ‘other’ jobs outside of teaching, to be honest I would, and have tried to do anything (legal). For the last year I’ve sold my soul to a market research call centre, and for a very low price I might add. I don’t mind doing this sort of thing because it’s a means to an end, yes I have days when I think ‘Six years (and counting) of University education for this?’
The idea that I’m 26 years old and still don’t have a ‘proper’ job is one problem. When I look at the careers of other people I was at School/University with I sometimes think ‘that should be me by now’ but there’s a bigger picture, I have to remind myself sometimes. It’s better since I started teaching at the University I’m studying at, for half the year at least I’m gainfully employed and at a quite reasonable rate. Being 26 and earning less that the taxable minimum is different to being 19 and living off a student loan however. Your friends, on the whole are earning real money, good money and want to do all those things they wanted to do when they ‘grew up’ like eat at nice restaurants, go on nice holidays, there is a sense of being left behind. Now on the whole I’m lucky, I have a group of friends who are understanding, who remember that not long ago they were poor too or are indeed still poor students like me! And I’m not too proud to remind them occasionally. What bothers me is when I hear people on salaries 3 times my own bemoaning that they have no money. Here’s a hint, if you earn £25,000 a year or more you’re not poor.
The reason I was thinking this for the past week is I was offered some paid work that although it seemed like a good idea financially would mean sacrificing work on my thesis. After much soul searching and debate I turned it down realising that the work I had to do on my own research was more important right now than extra money.
In doing this found myself reminded of one of my theatrical heroes and focus of part of my study-Jonathan Larson. Larson wrote the musical Rent, and I found myself listening to his other musical ‘Tick Tick Boom’ that tells the story of his life as a struggling artist. Two songs really strike a chord in this, first ‘No More’ where two friends fantasise about a life where money isn’t an issue and they live the life they’ve dreamed of:
How all of us feel at some point in time I guess but the idea of seeing all your friends pass you by is one that hits home. But then I listen to this song, from the same musical and gain some perspective:
Here Jonathan is debating whether to pursue art or commerce, to give up on dreams or keep going, this line really sums it up for me:
‘I want to write music, I want to sit down at my piano and write a song people will listen to and remember, and I want to do the same thing every morning for the rest of my life’
Now whether the dream is writing songs or writing a PhD thesis the message is the same, if it’s your passion and you’re lucky enough to have the chance to pursue it, then you need to give it your all and financial gain be damned.
Finally, while I’m quoting Larson the final song in this musical is a valuable life message I believe, and well, why not have a listen if you’ve got a few minutes to spare.